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TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 3:53 p.m.

In an effort to not clog up ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 's BRZ build thread and the behest of a few others, I'm starting a thread here to talk about my experience co-driving in an Rally2 (formerly R5) FIA - spec Ford Fiesta.

For the un-initiated, an R5 car is a 1.6L turbocharged, AWD car with crazy amounts of suspension travel and near 300bhp, with Sadev diffs and transmission- a Rally WEAPON. Established by the FIA, this class includes a number of models such as the Skoda Fabia (recently seen in the USA driven by Barry McKenna in the last few ARA rounds), the VW Polo, the Hyundai i20, among others.

I have had the immense and unending privilege to be co-driving one of these cars with John Coyne in this year's US rally championship, being run by Barry McKenna's team. I pinch myself about it still... and enjoy every moment. If you have any questions about these cars, I'm happy to tell you what I know about this experience! 

The main difference between these cars and anything else running in the US is the FIA homologation, these can be used in just about every national Rally series around the world, as well as the World Rally Championship (WRC). The amount of suspension travel is MUCH higher than most cars, and the shells have had extensive modification to fit them. The braking (on gravel) is just nutty, the car pitches violently forward and plants the nose on turn in, and rears back on its haunches on acceleration. I'll see if I can post some onboard from Ojibwe, but here's some from Barry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXi2hN77pOQ

Ask away! I hope I can bring a piece of my corner of the motorsports world to everyone here. Can follow the action more semi-live on Instagram: @RallySideways 

Edit: Photo Credits to David Cossenboom over the jump, and Holden Harwood for the shadows in the trees, the rest are my own. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/2/20 3:59 p.m.

Having ridden in a number of other rally cars, what does "the real deal" feel like in comparison to a relatively standard lower budget car?

EvanB (Forum Supporter)
EvanB (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/2/20 4:00 p.m.

One question I had seeing McKenna's Skoda at SOFR. Since they have to be registered and street legal how do they get around that with a new Skoda that isn't sold in the US? Special permit for the rally?

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 4:06 p.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

It's honestly on another planet. No amount of development of one person on one car can come close to a manufacturer putting money behind a full-blown factory race car like this. Proto's come close with their long travel suspension and highly developed shell, but good luck finding a good supply of parts if you brake something.

The car moves around a lot compared to a home-built car, pitching from side to side between corners, and back and forth on off the throttle (like a miata on stock springs in a big sweeper is what I would compare it too in terms of the feeling of throttle modulation). Everything inside has a perfect place for it, and everything is in it's place.

They've found EVERY hole, and unless you ripped a hole in the floor, you're not getting dust in the cabin. Most other cars you have to do little tricks to keep the cabin pressurized and the dust out. 

All of these things are $$$, with an R5 coming in close to $250,000, and a bare bones Proto being closer to $100,000. Before the R5's came in, no one was anywhere near the factory Subaru's (6-10 MINUTES off the pace by they end), and now Barry is mixing it with Pastrana.

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 4:11 p.m.

In reply to EvanB (Forum Supporter) :

The Skoda has Hungarian plates on it, and is allowed to be here and drive here on the "Show and Display" provision within the import laws. When it competes in Mexico (Barry usually goes), it is then leaving the US for a couple weeks, which is enough to reset the 1 year limit, to my knowledge. AFAIK you can also extend the show and display by paying more money?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/2/20 4:16 p.m.

What gets done in a service stop at that level?  I know the McKenna crew is a lot more than one guy and a pickup truck.

Thanks a bunch for doing this thread, by the way!

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 4:25 p.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

You're very welcome! I'm glad to share.

A typical stop is similar to most teams, but there's usually 2 dedicated techs on each car with others pitching in if needed. With 4 cars at Ojibwe (3 R5's and a 2WD R2), I think we had... 6 or 7 techs?

If nothing is broken, the cars go up on the pin jacks, and the wheels come off. Dust and dirt gets cleaned out of the wheel wells, wheels, and the brakes, and then a few things get torque checked, then the wheels go back on. Windows get cleaned, and water gets refilled and off we go (lately the rallies have been pretty short, 25 min at SOFR, and 30 min at Ojibwe).

Ryan Booth center punched a tree on one of the loops (lightly), and they replaced the bumper, intercooler, and a few intercooler pipes, and repaired some ducting and the front structure (they did check out 2 min late from service though).

Not *too* much different from any other rally service,other than a few more hands on deck, and a huge supply of potential spares.

Recon1342
Recon1342 Dork
9/2/20 4:26 p.m.

Yeah!!! I'm in!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/2/20 4:37 p.m.

What are the codriver amenities like in one of these cars?

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 4:52 p.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

You read my mind! I was about to talk a bit about that.

It's a nice place to be. The Fiesta has a lot of headroom (I'm SUPER tall in the torso), and they have the Rally computer (Monit) mounted on the door. The ONLY time I've used a really Rally computer (rather than a phone/tablet app) in the last 2 years has been in this car.

FOOT buttons! I LOVE foot buttons, and in the R5, it's the trip reset for the Rally computer, and the windshield wiper/sprayer. I've had the horn as a foot button in a different car, and I probably abused that privilege through the spectator sections... This foot rest happens to work ok for me, but could do to be *slightly* closer. I've not had a footrest in a lot of cars, so it's not really an issue.

Everything falls to hand. The only thing I would complain about is the map light, these are designed to be mounted vertically, so having it horizontal on the door makes it hard to keep it in a place where I can see without blinding the driver. There's a second one added here... from SOFR. I think we had some intermittent issues with the original one.

I usually wrap the shoulder strap from my co-driver bag (Sparco) around the cage bar so it doesn't hit me in the face in the event of a roll, and make sure the pockets are zipped before the stage start; there's plenty of room to do that here, sometimes the cage is too close in some cars and I just end up putting the bag between my legs.

The PDM switch panel in the center I can reach while belted in, controls all the things in the car: from the road mode/ stage mode, to my codriver light and the rally lights. Turn signals, high beam, etc are on the driver's steering wheel.

I DON'T like Lexan windows. Hard to wave at spectators, and it doesn't let a lot of air in. The slidey bit is always too small, and I always have a concern about getting out of the car if there's a crash and the door is pinched and you have to go out the side window. Unlikely scenario though.

Fire bottle location is under my knees, mounted to the floor, which I think is a good location in any car. Easy access - and generally, an unused piece of space.

Overall, a really nice place to sit. Roomy, and as comfortable as a race seat in a racecar on solid mounts and sequential dogbox can be!

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 5:00 p.m.

Example of the ridiculous amount of suspension travel these things have:

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
9/2/20 5:15 p.m.

So, do you consider yourself a co-badass?

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 5:20 p.m.

In reply to Olemiss540 :

Ha I think it's BADASS that I get to do things like this as a hobby! I just have worked hard and did a lot of training, and was nice to everyone along the way. It's not hard to say yes when you get messages like "Do you want to co-drive with me in an R5?" 

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
9/2/20 5:29 p.m.

You are literally living the dream. Do you ever forget that you are when in the heat of the battle?

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
9/2/20 5:30 p.m.

What do you love the most about rally sport and what other motorsports do you enjoy a lot?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/2/20 5:37 p.m.

Ah so this is what the people who are 30 cars up for me in the start order and who I never actually see during the rally are like lol. 

it's funny you mentioned the dust thing because I have been spending a lot of time recently trying to close up every single little hole in my car (which is 35 years old so there are quite a few) and scouring every place for some better door seals. our first real impact of this was a small pinhole on the floor that when we went through extremely deep puddle muddy water sprayed up onto the inside of the windshield And we cannot reach it to wipe it off and we're driving into the sun for the whole stage lol. 

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 5:48 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Ha, I just get to ride in the fancy thing. If I built a car I'd be right there with you guys, see my crappy XR4Ti: XR4Ti Track build thread

In the R5, it looks like EVERY single little hole is covered up with a metal tape sticker (lots of little dots), BEFORE the shell is painted, so not only do you have the hole covered, you have the paint over the top to seal it in. There's a ridiculous amoint of work just put into the build up of the shell.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/2/20 5:55 p.m.
TXratti said:

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Ha, I just get to ride in the fancy thing. If I built a car I'd be right there with you guys, see my crappy XR4Ti: XR4Ti Track build thread

In the R5, it looks like EVERY single little hole is covered up with a metal tape sticker (lots of little dots), BEFORE the shell is painted, so not only do you have the hole covered, you have the paint over the top to seal it in. There's a ridiculous amoint of work just put into the build up of the shell.

that's actually exactly what I've been doing with my car currently gutted for repainting....every hole either seam-sealed or covered with alumimum tape, then painted over. And for some reason, BMW put holes EVERYWHERE inside the rocker areas (usually covered by trim). Which would be ok if my rockers weren't all bashed up so dust can get in lol 

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 5:55 p.m.
Olemiss540 said:

You are literally living the dream. Do you ever forget that you are when in the heat of the battle?

Literally.

You have to, though. In the heat of battle all you can think about is the notes and a road and how it all flows together. After the race and looking at photos is when I really get to really have an appreciation for the opportunity to be doing these events!

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 6:26 p.m.
Olemiss540 said:

What do you love the most about rally sport and what other motorsports do you enjoy a lot?

The biggest thing I love about rally is the teamwork in the car. The absolute trust the driver must place in the codriver to know what's coming up and the driver to be able to place the car. How dynamic the course is, with anything and everything possible coming at you.

That being said, I enjoy most forms of motorsport! I follow WRC, F1 (closely, this year), WEC, IndyCar, IMSA, GT World Challenge, Gridlife, etc. And am building my own car (XR4Ti, see above for link), and racing/driving my other car, a 2014 Scion FRS. I've flagged at COTA for WEC/IMSA, and in Detroit for Indy, and being pit crew for endurance racing (WRL), and ultimately I would love to become a Race Engineer as a career, but we'll see.

kodachrome
kodachrome New Reader
9/2/20 7:34 p.m.

How do you adjust to different drivers and different paces for reading? 

Will you co-drive for anyone, anywhere, or do you have any prerequisites in terms of safety, experience, etc.? You know, now that you're famous. 

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/2/20 9:19 p.m.

In reply to kodachrome :

The different pace thing is always hard. Sometimes it takes half a stage, like I hopped into the M3 with Roger Matthews at Rally CO and was Waayyyyy far ahead because I was used to the R5 pace where a 100 is just a connector to a corner like 'and' or 'into.' And then returning to the R5 was a bit rush rush on the first stage or so from my point of view on the notes. Video review helps, and a good Co-Driver evaluates as things go and feels it through the seat. I once had to do a stage completely blind (windows fogged), and that was a crash course in feeling the car!

No, I don't just hope in with anyone, I have a couple hard rules, namely halo seats in the car. I also try to gauge a driver by our conversations leading up to committing to an event. I won't sit with someone who's just going to go flat out with no sense for safety, but have no problem sitting with even a new driver if they have the right mentality.

And pssh, famous? That's not me.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/3/20 9:04 a.m.

Thanks for sharing this, it's really cool to hear your experience. Sounds like a blast!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
9/3/20 9:14 a.m.

What, in your opinion, can those of us who haven't achieved the financial success required to afford an R5 car learn from these vehicles and the support operation around them?  So far I've got:

  • Seal the interior
  • Have a spot for everything and keep the inside of the car organized
  • Foot buttons for codriver
  • There is no such thing as too much suspension travel

What else?

TXratti
TXratti Reader
9/3/20 9:45 a.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

Ha, foot buttons is just my preference, but it is nice to put the trip reset there.

All of those are good to have, I would add:

-Everything in its place for service. The same size tarp, plywood for the jack and jackstands, spares labels and know where they are. McKenna doesn't use it really but a big whiteboard to put things on like check in/out times is really useful, as well as a clock that everyone can see. 

-Find good crew people! Your buddy may know a bit about cars and is fun to hang around but when you come in with a broken transmission, is he going to know what to do to get you back on stage in the 30-45min service? Make sure you have at least 2 solid people to crew for you at the rally, that you can trust to take care of the car. You need to focus on driving, and good crew is a godsend. It may cost a bit more money (hotel, meals, possibly a bit of compensation for them), but the added expense is worth it to make sure you can focus on driving and enjoying the event.

-Have a good codriver! On a similar vein to crew, a good experienced codriver is invaluable to making the weekend go well. Not getting (too) lost on transits, keeping you out of early or late check in penalties, and notes delivery on stage. If it's your first rally, hire someone who knows what they're doing, or go get training with someone like OZ RallyPro (Alex and Rhianon Gelsomino), and you'll be faster, safer, and have a better time. 

-Be thorough in the car prep. Bolt check everything before a rally, inspect everything after a rally and replace wear items like brakes before they become a problem (I once was in a car that ran a pad down to the backing on the downhill section of Idaho's "Harris Creek" stage, a bit hairy to say the least). Reinforce suspension top points (most do this anyway but for anyone reading this and thinking about getting into rally, flat pieces of steel on the strut tops goes a long way). Have the car ready at least a week (preferably more) before the event, or don't go. Seriously. You're going to miss something or be worrying about the car and not be focused on driving, and it won't be fun. Do yourself a favor and be realistic about when it will be done, and you'll enjoy the event a lot more when you do go (make it as much of an "Arrive and drive" situation as you can).

-Set the co-driver seat and belts EARLY in the weekend. Unless you're the same driver/codriver combo rally on rally, the seat position and belt lengths are going to be adjusted some way or another. Doing this in Parc Expose is stressful and no fun. Get this done as soon as you have access to the car, and it's one less thing to worry about.

I'm sure there's more that I'm missing, that I'll add later

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