“The jury’s out on ex­tra grunt in WRC cars”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - AGREE/DIS­AGREE? mn.let­ters@hay­mar­ket.com

Let’s be hon­est, gen­uine, first-hand, coal face ex­pe­ri­ence is a pretty rare thing in this col­umn.

I’ve been on the tele­phone to Tommi Maki­nen fairly reg­u­larly in the last cou­ple of months and not once has he asked me if I’d like to pop to Pu­up­pola to drive the Yaris he’s been work­ing on. Doesn’t hap­pen. Which is why last week’s email from Ban­bury was so wel­come. It came from Pro­drive’s long-stand­ing PR star Ben Sayer, who was in­quir­ing if I’d like to shake­down the Golf SCRC for them?

For those of you not fa­mil­iar with Pro­drive’s cur­rent rally pro­gramme, the Golf is con­test­ing (dom­i­nat­ing’s prob­a­bly a much bet­ter verb) the Chi­nese Rally Cham­pi­onship with Chris Atkin­son right now. The lat­est chas­sis is headed east at the end of the month and needed a roll-out af­ter be­ing bolted to­gether at Pro­drive’s shiny, new Ban­bury home. I didn’t need ask­ing twice. The full story of the car and what ex­actly a shake­down in­volves will be found on these pages in the com­ing weeks. But for now, two things struck me as I de­parted the test.

The first is the same feel­ing I get ev­ery time I drive up or down the M40: how much poorer the World Rally Cham­pi­onship is with­out Pro­drive. The sec­ond con­sid­er­a­tion cen­tred on be­ing in the pres­ence of at least 350 horses.

For the Golf’s two-litre mo­tor, 350bhp is no bother (this be­ing the same base en­gine as Mat­tias Ek­strom’s Audi S1 EKS RX ral­ly­cross car…), which gave me a glimpse into what might be­neath Se­bastien Ogier’s right foot next sea­son. Granted, there weren’t many trees, sheer drops, Armco bar­ri­ers or 50-me­tre-plus jumps on this par­tic­u­lar Ox­ford­shire air­field, but the car and the power felt per­fect to me.

The jury’s out on ne­ces­sity for ex­tra grunt at the mo­ment, but to be able to hold the Golf in a fourth-gear drift on the throt­tle for as long as I wanted was a pretty spe­cial mo­ment. Power brings majesty and spec­ta­cle and a brief taste made me won­der if those lob­by­ing for less power are be­ing a bit too health and safety.

Like I said, I had half a county to play with. My opin­ion might change on en­gag­ing stage mode at the start of Dyfi.

In the name of re­search, I’m game if you are, good peo­ple of Ban­bury...

New Golf was rolled out for the first time in Ban­bury

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