"The installation of a roll cage not only reduces the risk the driver and co-driver are at, but it also strengthens the car as a whole"
The world of international rally driving has delivered some truly magnificent drivers through the years. Colin McRae, Tommi Makinen and Walter Rohrl are just a few of the household names who have made history at the World Rally Championship over the course of their glittering careers.
However, not all rallying events require a heavy team sponsorship or even a rally license. You are simply required to modify your car to certain specifications and with some self-confidence built up, you’re good to go!
In this guide, we explore the aforementioned modifications that are necessary to make your car rally-ready, in more detail…
First things first - Safety
Unfortunately, crashing is somewhat of an inevitability when travelling at such dangerously high speeds. Therefore, taking numerous measurements to safe proof the car you are going to be driving is one of the most important processes. The installation of a roll cage not only reduces the risk the driver and co-driver are at, but it also strengthens the car as a whole. Understandably, cars are built for use on roads and designed in a way to match a particular style of moderate driving. When you take your car rallying however, you are placing it under significant stress. A properly installed roll-cage carries as much worth as a building’s foundations.
In order to install a roll-cage, the entire car must be stripped right back to the bare shell of the body. All the body sound proofing material off the floor must be pulled out, before welding any seam in the vehicle. Once this had been done, the roll-cage is good to be installed.
Fitting the correct Tyres
As with the unforgiving conditions of your average rally route, ordinary road tyres would be lucky to survive the first corner of the circuit. Between the copious number of potholes, selection of sharp rocks and stones, and uncountable collisions with curbs, it is no surprise that the tyres on a rally car need to be made of sturdier stuff. In a bid to avoid continuous punctures, manufacturers of rally tyres build them all with a thick sidewall. Some even contain added ribs on the exterior of the sidewall. They will all contain larger, thicker tread blocks, offering more grip during acceleration, braking, and cornering. Depending on the road surface, the temperature, and the length of the stage, you will also be required to pick a particular compound of tyre, either soft, medium, or hard. In addition, it’s also paramount to ensure your tyres are inflated properly and to the correct pressure. Using a car tyre pump can help with this.
Don’t forget the Drivetrain
To ensure that the drivetrain produces the sufficient amount of power required to compete in an off-road rally, significant alterations are needed as this component is responsible for transmitting power from the engine to the wheels. Most modern cars are controlled by an internal computer or membrane, which receives instruction from a chip. As standard roadworthy vehicles are configured to be fuel efficient and produce minimal emissions, much of the potential performance is restricted. With a performance chip, or tuner as it is alternatively known, vehicles can create an additional output of 100 horsepower in some instances.
At this point, you’re probably wondering how all of this works? To summarise, the replacement chip removes the restriction that has been added. In doing so, the instruction which tells the engine how much fuel should be released when the driver places his foot flat down on the accelerator no longer exists. With this comes maximum acceleration and similarly maximum throttle response, yet at the cost of fuel economy. You should also consider changing your intake manifold to one that produces low end torque. You could also replace the exhaust manifold with a header, which will enhance horsepower and the throttle response.
And finally - Aluminium skidpans
Have you ever misjudged a bump in the road and ended up grounding your car? This is something which every driver is more than likely to experience in their life, whether it was scraping the sump off the ground after gaining unintentional air or going over too steep a speed bump. Imagine when you’re in a rally car however, constantly hitting jumps — the sump of the car along with the engine casing would be destroyed within a matter of moments, causing catastrophic damage. That is why you must fit an aluminium plate, which protects the underneath of the car.
In this guide, we have covered the numerous modifications you need to make to your trusty motor before going all-out Smokey and the Bandit with it. So, touch up on some of these handy tips before considering a career as a rally driver to help steer your way to success.