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A Peek Under The Bonnet – What Makes Rally Cars Tick?

30th Jan, 2017

With the World Rally Championship 2017 having started over the weekend, we’ve got almost a full year to enjoy watching prized manufacturers models get pushed to the very peak of their speed and durability. The manufacturers often use modified versions of their consumer vehicles to compete, so we’re lifting the hood for you on the average rally car, and taking a peek at how it differs to the ones on our roads.

Achieving The Ultimate Car Body

rally car

We see our fair share of modified scrap cars, but rarely to the point of WRC vehicles. The basic shell of the car still resembles its consumer counterpart, but for the most part the similarities stop there. Successful rallying is all about the sacrifice of weight for greater speed and power, so any components that aren’t absolutely necessary are stripped out. The hoods and tops are replaced with lighter carbon fibre or aluminium replacements, and most of the interior trim is removed, including the back seat. Any unnecessary body panels are removed, and fuel tanks are replaced for rubber fuel cells. Skid plates and similar measures are always attached to the undercarriage, to protect it from the worst effects of flying gravel and the like.

This year has seen a change in the regulations – namely, a rise in the amount of horsepower permitted, which means more freedom for the manufacturers to maximise aerodynamic performance. There’s also been a relaxation on the minimum weight for the competitors (the cars, that is, not the drivers. That would be quite personal). It’s going to mean a lot more speed and a lot more power for WRC 2017 – all very exciting stuff!

It’s What’s Inside Of The Engine That Counts

Car parts

If you’re a rally driver, you’ll find yourself scrapping your car after only a few months, rather than the years or even decades some people get from their trusty vehicles. Despite all the dramatic changes to the outside, there’s some even more interesting stuff going on in the inside. A lot of that’s due to the fundamentally different principles that apply to rally cars as opposed to regular cars.

Regular transport needs to be reliable, fuel efficient and cost-effective. None of that applies to rally cars, whose engines are designed to run at the peak of their performance all throughout their lives. Engineers estimate that this puts 10 to 20 times more wear on their components, drastically reducing their operational lifetimes. By how much, you ask? Well, WRC teams can’t use more than 3 engines per car throughout the whole year, which should tell you something about the stress they go through. Basically, the engines aren’t designed to last longer than the races. Fuel efficiency, noise, low maintenance costs and long-term reliability are definitely not factors in their construction, unlike with consumer vehicles. They’re all about pouring out the maximum amount of power possible, leaving it up to the driver as to how much he wants to make use of.

Not Designed To Last

broken car parts

Of course, all this power needs to come in moderation. That’s why it’s mandatory for all rally cars to be outfitted with roll cages and multi-point restraint systems (that’s ‘really complicated seat belts’ to you and me). A rally car can go from champion vehicle to scrap car in a matter of moments, making it crucial that its team is protected. Meanwhile, each car is maintained by a crack squad of mechanics whose skills are second to none; a typical team can change a tyre in around sixty seconds!

At Scrap Car Network, we don’t pretend to be that good. Changing tyres isn’t our speciality – but scrapping your car is. Wherever you are in Britain, the size of our network means we can guarantee that we can get you the best price with the minimum of hassle. You can click here for other excellent reasons to choose us, or if you’re already sold on the idea you can get started by entering your car reg and postcode on our website to receive an instant scrap car quote!

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