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Rally News Round-up, March 2


Toyota's first S2000 rally car debuts at Melbourne Motor Show, and NZ Rally Championship gets a new naming-rights sponsor.

First S2000 Corolla revealed

March 2, 2007, 11pm. Toyota’s Australian works rally team revealed its new Corolla rally car at the Melbourne International Motor Show today.

The new car is the world's first new model Corolla homologated to the FIA's Super 2000 (S2000) specifications.

The S2000 category was developed by the FIA to allow manufacturers to build relatively inexpensive rally cars using a common, controlled formula.

S2000's introduction will see the end of Toyota's Group N Prototype Corolla rally car - the vehicle that delivered the manufacturer first and second in the 2006 NEC Australian Rally Championship, as well as the manufacturers' championship.

The common elements to S2000 include engines, gearboxes and weight restrictions.

The TRD team is developing the 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally-aspirated 3SGE engine for the new car.

Providing about 190kW of power and 240Nm of torque, the engine revs to 8500rpm.

The car's pace is enhanced by its low specified weight of 1150 kilograms, about 200kg lighter than current generation Subaru and Mitsubishi Group N cars.

The SADEV six-speed sequential gearbox is another controlled element of the S2000 specification.

TRD-specific components on the new car include MCA shock absorbers built by Murray Coote, and an AP Racing brake package with four spot callipers front and rear, with 300mm rotors.

"I'm a big fan of the Super 2000 category," said Australian TRD team boss Neal Bates.

"The dynamics are a lot better than our old car because it is so much lighter and it will provide us with the opportunity to compete on the world stage in the Asia-Pacific rounds of the World Rally Championship.

"The S2000 category will also allow for the development of controlled parts for all manufacturers which will ultimately provide lower costs.

"We have been very encouraged by our first tests in the development car - the Group N (P) car had reached a plateau in terms of development, but it is exciting for us to try and make this new one as fast as possible."

Toyota works driver, 2006 Australian Rally Champion Simon Evans says there is still a lot of development to go to have it right for the Rally of Canberra. “But our test times have been competitive.

"I think S2000 has all the ingredients to appeal to both manufacturers and motorsport fans - particularly when they hear the cars howling through the forest."

Simon and Sue Evans will drive the current shape Group N (P) Corolla at the first two rounds of the Australian Rally Championship in Queensland and Western Australia.

Neal Bates and Coral Taylor will run these events in a current shape S2000 development car, converted from an Australian Group N (P) Corolla.

It is expected that two brand-new Corolla S2000 rally cars will be debuted during Round 3 of the championship in Canberra.


Vantage backs NZ Rally Series

March 2, 2007, 11pm. The New Zealand Rally Championship has announced a new naming rights sponsor with Vantage Aluminium Joinery increasing its support of the sport.

The 2007 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship will be contested over six rounds starting with the Rally of Otago on April 14-15.

Having supported many rally campaigns in the past, general manager Craig Vincent says the opportunity to put the business name to the rally series came at an opportune time.

``We see this sponsorship as the obvious next step up from our previous sponsorship involvement with Possum Bourne and our current support of rally driver Emma Gilmour.

``We have a heritage going back many years in New Zealand rallying. The NZ Rally Championship is now a major brand on the motorsport circuit and we felt it fitted in well with our Vantage brand of aluminium windows and doors which is the leading joinery brand in the country.''

Contested over six rounds, the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship also includes the Asia Pacific Rally Championship round and Rally New Zealand.

Starting in Otago in mid-April, the championship crown will be awarded at the season finale in Nelson come late September.




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