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GRC Insider: What Makes A Rallycross Car Unique?

Image via Scott-Eklund Racing PR

To the untrained eye, the cars of the Global Rallycross Championship may appear to be no different than any other rally car. Newcomers to the series will be most familiar with the Ford Fiesta; not only do many of the series’ top drivers race Fords, but it’s also a car model that runs competitively in the World Rally Championship. Subaru and Citroen run WRC cars similar to their GRC counterparts as well, while fellow GRC entrant Hyundai prepared a WRC car of its own in the early 2000s.

But these rallycross cars aren’t the same as the ones that fans would see in the WRC, as Scott-Eklund Racing technical director Per Eklund explains. “On a World Rally car today, they’re restricted to 34 millimeters on the turbocharger. In rallycross, we have 45 millimeters. Also, the World Rally car has a maximum of 300 horsepower. In rallycross, we have 500 horsepower.”

The result is one of the quickest racing cars in the world. “The standing start on these cars, getting from 0-100 (kilometers per hour) in 2.2 seconds,” Eklund continues. “They’re quicker than Formula 1 cars (in getting to) 100 kph. And at Charlotte, in the finals, we had 10 cars with 600 horsepower that all started together.”

Meanwhile, one of the more surprising vehicles in the May 26 GRC round at Charlotte was the Saab 9-3. Scott-Eklund campaigned two Saabs, making it to the main event with both, and finished fourth and fifth with drivers Andy Scott and Samuel Hubinette.

Image via Scott-Eklund Racing PR

Scott has been a Ford driver in Europe, taking a Focus to second in last year’s British championship and 11th in the European championship, and says that both manufacturers offer their own advantages.

“The Ford is a high torque car, so you’re short shifting all the time. The quickest way around the circuit is to keep making it pull using all the torque that’s available. The Saab is a different animal. It has a wider power band. It’s not as strong at the bottom end, but it’s strong at the top end. It’s a different driving style for both cars.

“At the moment I have a lot more seat time with the Ford, but each time I get in the Saab I get more comfortable with it, and a little quicker. So I’m hoping that there’s still more to come through the year as we get more seat time.”

“The good thing with the Saab is the engine,” notes Eklund. “We have a very, very strong engine. It’s a steel block with a lot of horsepower. It’s a strong car. I think it’s very good for this Global Rallycross.”

The GRC race setup, with its jumps and hard landing on tarmac, proves demanding on the cars, requiring tough cars and even tougher suspensions. Between races, Eklund says that teams have to do a complete rebuild on their cars.

“We did all the preparation for the car, we rebuilt everything after the last race. Everything is ready for next weekend. So Monday or Tuesday the first car needs to leave from the workshop. We’ve been working every day, so this has been a hard week for us. But this is the game.”

– Chris Leone

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