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RE: nz rally (minimal audi content) - long

well, it depends upon your starting point.  group "n" is near production
spec, and of little interest.

the intent of group "a" was to allow manufacturers to race, but only if they
could produce (homologate) an appropriate number of the same vehicles
(1,500).  the race vehicles were allowed a very carefully defined number of
departures from the public cars, in the areas of engines, anti-lag systems,
gearboxes, brakes, wheels, tyres and suspensions.  however, some of these
allowances are quite restrictive, for example, that the suspension pickup
points cannot move more then 25mm from their homologated (public) locations.

what group "a" doesn't solve is the requirement for an awd, turbo donor car.
obviously some manufacturers don't have this.  it also commits the
manufacturer to the considerable expense of tooling a factory to produce
1,500 versions of the rally car which must be sold to the public.  having
said that, both mitsubishi and to a greater extent subaru (until recently)
have used the group "a" regulations to greatly boost the image of their
run-of-the-mill road cars.  (as audi did with the ur-quattro).  both have
sold many more than the 1,500 required for each year of competition (as audi
did also with the group "b" quattro producing thousands of cars, where only
400 were needed).  subaru also expertly used the "colin mcrae w/wrx" effect
to make the wrx the most sort after hi-po car in many countries (including
nz).  obviously now, with the advent of the subaru wrx "wrc" car and the
demise of the group "a" car, the focus of the automotive media has shifted
to the mitsubishi lancer, until recently very much the poor cousin in the
"gotta-have-one" stakes.

the "world rally car" (wrc) regulations are designed to solve this problem
and allow a manufacturer to add a turbo *and* awd system to an existing
vehicle (mostly fwd non-turbo) of the range, without the requirement to
produce 1,500 examples for the public (as in group "a").  in addition, the
wrc regulations significantly ease up on areas such as suspensions, and
allow the manufacturers much more latitude than the group "a" regulations.
btw, another area is in aerodynamics and cooling where the freedom of the
wrc specifications is a major benefit (witness the ridiculous appendages of
the "public" lancer or read jeremy clarkson's chagrin at being laughed at on
the motorway when driving one).  the effect of the wrc regulations has been
threefold: (1) to double the number of manufacturers in the top league from
4 (ford, toyota, subaru and mitsubishi) to 8 (including seat, skoda, peugeot
and hyundai) (2) to move a number of f2 manufacturers to the wrc (peugeot,
seat, hyundai, skoda) (3) to move most of the old group "a" manufacturers
(toyota, ford and subaru) from group "a" to "wrc".

however, and this is the case in the mitsubishi (and until recently with
subaru), provided that the manufacturer has been careful about the design of
the homologated group "a" car, there is little difference to the two formula
in areas like suspensions.  if the homologated car has got this wrong, then
wrc is the way to go.  for ford which now occupies the "state of the art"
slot, (and for toyota, peugeot, seat and next year hyundai), wrc was the
only option due to (1) their absence of a turbo awd donor car and (2) their
decisions about particularly the rear suspension design (struts).  for
subaru, who went the group "a" route with mitsubishi, they were happy with
what group "a" could give them until this year when they chose the "wrc"
route.  hence no more "rally special" subaru wrx sti's being available to
the public, and the much different look to this years car.  mitsubishi is
still sticking with group "a", but is expected to change for next year, to
wrc regs.  the upside of the mitsubishi group "a" car is that i can purchase
the mitsubishi lancer evo 6 new in nz for just over 1/2 the price of a new
s4!  the pity is that they do not have an "essex boy delete option" to get
rid of the wings...

my original point about the speeds of the relative classes, was really just
for historical perspective.  the group "a" cars which debuted in '86 to
universal disappointment were faster over special stages than the old group
"b" cars by 1900.  speeds have improved continually, and the wrc cars are
now moving the game on further.  imo i would expect the top flight cars next
year to come from peugeot and ford, based on the performance of their cars
this year.  mitsibushi cannot be discounted, of course.  with toyota's
decision to abandon rallying, the 2nd tier "wrc" manufacturers will need to
lift their game...

'95 rs2
'90 ur-q
'88 mb 2.3-16

-----Original Message-----

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 12:31:35 -0500 (cdt)
From: Virtual Bob <hey9811@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: nz rally (minimal audi content)

> > ...  the "wrc" cars are night and day from the old group "a" cars

> > the state of the art is now with ford clearly, although the
> > mitsubishi is very close.

> > ... they are so much quicker than the group "a" cars ...

> AFAIK Mitsubishis are still "group A" cars so the difference between a
> good "group A" car and a "WRC car" is not necessarily all that big...

So what is the difference between Group A, N, and WRC cars?