Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Choose your rubber

Selecting the right tire can be tricky. Not only are they expensive, they also don’t seem to last long on the Alba Rallysport WRX. Here is a breakdown of the tires we use for various events.

Surface – snow
Event – winter rallycross/TSD
Tire – Winterforce

A softer compound rubber than a summer or gravel tire they bite well in a straight line and under braking. For rallycross events this winter we found that we had to groove the tire a little to give a more aggressive tread for deeper snow. This tire is a compromise. It doesn’t perform fantastically well on ice nor in deep snow but for all round winter driving it can’t be beat on price. With a 205 width we’d prefer a narrower tire for deep snow so next season we plan on using a 185 wide snow tire.

Surface - tarmac

Event - autocross/track days/tarmac stage rally
Tire – Falken

These 225/45/17 monsters are incredible on dry tarmac. The intermediate tread copes with damp conditions but can be overwhelmed in heavy rain. They can withstand a lot of abrasion and perform very well in high ambient temperatures. We ran an autocross in temperatures of 30-40deg and they were slippery to say the least but we did take the STX class win on them! We are looking forward to getting out on the track with these Falkens again in the spring.

Surface – gravel
Event - rallycross/TSD/gravel stage rally
Tire – Falken & Pirelli

The RS-01D tire is unfortunately no longer available in the US. These tires have proven themselves to us in rallycross and TSD events such as POR. Although they are fantastic on loose gravel they excel in mud and wet grass and are our choice over the Pirellis for that reason. Although a softer compound rubber we prefer to keep the Pirellis for gravel roads.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Slip Sliding Away

The Detroit SCCA rallycross season opener, presented by Team Illuminata Motorsport, didn’t go quite as planned for the husband and wife Alba Rallysport team.
An overcast, snowy day didn’t dim our spirits for the first event of the season. The twisty course at Bob’s Family Raceway in Clarksville, MI was one we were familiar with, having competed there twice and won once. With that record we were confident that we could be competitive with the Sti of #177 and #77.

With 10 competitors in the PA (rally prepared AWD) class and 6 runs planned for the day, this was the largest PA field since early 2006. A quick course walk revealed hard packed snow with thick ice below the surface. Experience told us the snow wouldn’t last long and we’d soon be slip sliding away on the ice. We went into the event with high hopes of a podium position but close competition from cars #42, #17 and #23 forced us to step up the pace a little resulting in an off course excursion into a snow bank on run 3 due to ice induced driver error. For the record, my co-driver did warn me!
Luckily, several other PA competitors made the same mistake and this evened the field somewhat but meant we had to step up the pace in the afternoon yet keep the runs clean. On run 4 the stars were aligned and it felt fantastic. We were back in the running but on runs 5 and 6 we took cone penalties, which pushed us into a final position of 6th place and 4th in the Detroit SCCA rallycross championship with 10 points.
The next event is on March 17th in Fowlerville, a course we are more than familiar with. Let’s just hope the snow and ice melts and we can put the power down on some gravel!

Photos by Nate VanderVeen

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

2007 Team Dynamics Challenge

With the first event of the Detroit Region SCCA 2007 Rallycross Championship in three days it was about time to sticker up the car. As part of the championship the 2007 Team Dynamics Challenge will allow competitors in each class to rally for the chance to win a set of Team Dynamics race proven wheels at the end of the season. A win in each class can net you up to four opportunities per event. The Alba Rallysport team will be proudly sporting Team Dynamics wheels and logos during the 2007 rallycross season.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Saturday’s SVR rallycross at Crystal Speedway was a great opener to the 2007 season. As it wasn’t part of the Detroit Region Championship there was no points pressure on the Alba Rallysport team of one (the co-driver took the day off!). The goal was to test tires and suspension setup for the following event. The large site with fast sweeping turns was fantastic and the deep snow proved a challenge to many of the 2WD entries early on. With a field of 7 in the Rally Prepared class it quickly became evident that the #75 Alba Rallysport WRX was going to have a battle with the #77 & #177 WRX Sti, again.
After the second run I was already in 3rd place but the third run was flawless, 2nd fastest, and I was back up with the times run by the WRX Sti. On the forth and final run of the morning I was joined by a fellow countryman; the owner of Team Illuminata Motorsports. This didn’t prove at all helpful as I spun on turn three resulting in a time of 67.31. This would be impossible to gain back with only four runs remaining. It was clear after the morning session that a new face to the rallycross scene was one to be reckoned with; car #42.
The afternoon session again consisted of four runs. The course was run in reverse and the conditions had changed dramatically. Grass was now visible but after walking the course we all discovered that the surface was variable. Some areas were wet and soft, some areas s
heet ice. It was going to be an unpredictable afternoon. Run five was not a good start, 5th. I had to pick the pace up considerably and runs six and seven showed that. Run eight was flawless and I posted the fastest time in class for the day, 46.084 but it was just too late. With the final positions declared, The Alba Rallysport team finished in 4th place in PA class behind the #77 WRX Sti, #177 WRX Sti and #42 Impreza RS.
I walked away with lessons learnt. The goal for the 2007 season is to build on consistency and repeatability. On such short courses with only 6-8 runs in a day it’s the only way to be competitive. The car has proved that it can compete with the WRX Sti, now the driver just has to prove it!
See you at the Detroit Region SCCA season opener when the Alba Rallysport team will be two again!
Bob’s Family Raceway, Clarksville
February 17th

Welcome to Alba Rallysport!

With a motorsport history spanning the last 15 years, 2 of those in the US, this blog will follow the story of the Alba Rallysport team’s second full US rallycross season. 2006 was a successful year with the team taking 2nd place in the Rally Prepared AWD class of Detroit Region’s rallycross championship. 2007 is shaping up to be a challenging year with 10 rallycross events, 3 TSD rallies and 2 stage rallies on the calender. Stay tuned for event and technical reports.
See you on the gravel.