Focus RS vs Rallycross
Focus RS, rally cars, gravel, and driving sideways. Rallycross is awesome.
If you've read my first post - The (car) Nut Behind The Wheel - you already know that I'm starting rallycross this season for the first time. I started high performance driving 7 years ago in 2011 but have never strayed away from tarmac/asphalt. Living in Canada - which rightfully earns the name 'The Great White North' - means that I had to suffer serious speed withdrawals during the track off-season; that typically lasts from the middle of October to the middle of May. But there is a treatment for people with my condition and it has been available locally for nearly 20 years.
I went to my first event this past Sunday and spoke to a few of the seasoned rallycross veterans. I was told that local speed freaks started organizing rallycross events for that very reason around 1999; to get their speed fix during the winter. It took off a few years later around the 2001-2002 winter season and nobody looked back. I found out about those local rallycross events a couple of years after I started track driving and wanted to start ever since, but it wasn't in the books (the accounting books. I was too broke). Thankfully, the accounting books finally smiled at me this season and I went out and bought a cheap car for rallycross. I'll talk more about that and my first rallycross event in a future post. For now, I figured I'll just share the first of my rallycross stories and this short clip of a Focus RS being properly driven.
It never got old seeing it and a bunch of Subaru's drifting around. But what's really impressive is that this stock Focus RS (aside from tires) came 2nd overall in a group of 37 cars, including prepped cars. The gap between it (in 2nd place) and 1st place was a mere 3 HUNDREDTH of a second. Better still, 1st place was a prepped 2002 WRX performance rally car. I'm not sure what's all done to the WRX and I imagine it's much more suited for rally sprints rather than rallycross, but it was cool to see nonetheless.
Just about everyone I have talked to about this particular Focus RS made a comment about how the owner is ruining it. I'll admit, even I thought at first that it's a bit too new to take to a rallycross. But you know what I never stop hearing? Comments about how I (and several of my friends) are ruining our cars by taking them to the track and beating on them. In fact, the speeds at rallycross are far lower. The chances of crashing - and extent of damage should there be crash - are lower than on track, in my opinion, so there is an argument to be made about rallycross being safer. Sure, the gravel is a bit of a wear catalyst that isn't on a track, but the much higher speeds and resultant forces/loads that a car experiences on a track is a different but very real wear factor as well. I say kudos to the owner for properly driving and enjoying the car. It might have a few battle scars, but when I was a kid, battle scars meant you're cool.
The 2002 WRX rally car that took 1st place honours
For now, no one will be telling me how I'm ruining my own rallycross car; a very humble 2007 VW Golf (Rabbit) 2.5 with a dinged door and a bit of rust. I'll be posting more about it soon and how my first rallycross event went, plus more pictures and videos. More importantly (if you're a high performance driving nerd like me), I'll be talking about what I had to change about my driving from the track to go faster on gravel!