Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RS Revival: Getting a Grip!

It's been proven.  On paper, on websites, on YouTube, on the road.  It doesn't matter if you've got power on all wheels or on just one if you don't have the right grip.  And to put that grip to the surface, you need the right tire.

In the case of my project car, a 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS Coupe, it needs to grip on the dirty stuff for Rallycross.  As both the car and the driver have made improvements, there's always a drive to get better times and a big key to that is GRIP.  However, the tires I've been using to get grip are old and heavy, so when I set my sights on the next improvement for my rallycross build, I may have missed the mark initially.

My original plan for improvement for the next stage of my RS was Stage 2.  A ECU from Delicious Tuning was supposed to tie together my Gorilla Top-Mount Cold Air Intake, Stromung Catback Exhaust, and tuned headers to make more power to spin those big heavy rally wheels faster.  Clawing my way out of corners with my current tires had proven to be a cumbersome task for the stock 2.5 liter SOHC Boxer 4 in my RS, so my focus was on making more power to make up for those heavy stage rally puncture-proof Michelin Gravel Competition Tires.

I may still go with tuning for the Stage 2 setup that I have, but I've learned through this summer that, if I can lighten the load and maximize grip for the grassy dirt clod that the NRSCCA uses for rallycross events each year, I don't need to really go that route.  What I need are lighter tires with grip designed for these kinds of conditions.  Thankfully, I've found one.

These are Indy Sport SG Rallycross tires.  They're designed for conditions that often arise at the rallycross site here in Nebraska.  These are dedicated rallycross tires that excel in wet and loose conditions. Whether it's grass, mud, or loose gravel, this tire ensures grip from the start thanks to a soft compound.

I ordered these tires from Rally.Build based out of Colorado.  The tires themselves are from Germany and are being shipped in.  They should be here in the next week or so.  These will replace the Michelin Gravel Tires and be mounted on my Speedline Corse Type 2118s.  These will hopefully arrive and be mounted in time for the last two events of the 2015 NRSCCA Rallycross season.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Start Right in Rallycross

When I first started doing rallycross with my '00 Subaru Impreza RS Coupe, I found it much easier to get into thanks to support of fellow drivers that were there.  The guys and gals there were eager to answer my questions and help out with things and it was a very inviting atmosphere.  Combine that with the rush of adrenaline felt in the first event and I was hooked.  As I continued to attend events, I found that the help extended beyond driving advice and tips.  They were co-driving with me, helping from the passenger seat to get a better idea of how to go through the course.  They were lending a hand with tire changes and on-site repairs if needed.  They were making me want to come back again and again.

I know others that are new to this sport could use that kind of support, so I'm spearheading something to help promote our local rallycross program with the NRSCCA with fellow Subaru owners.  For the next two events (October 18th & November 1st) members of the Nebraska Subaru Owners Club (NSOC) will take rallycross veterans and newbies alike together to finish out the 2015 schedule strong.  The plan is to help make things easier for newer participants with necessary advice, tools, and equipment.  By cruising to the location together, new drivers will be more familiar with where to go and park and set up.

  • Meet up at Fantasy's Food N Fuel (7828 S 123rd Plaza La Vista, NE 68128) at 8:30am
  • Drive together to I-80 Speedway (13909 238th St, Greenwood, NE 68366) at approx 9:00am
  • Prepare vehicles - change tires, check fluid levels, make necessary adjustments
  • Walk the Course - veterans will help new drivers familiarize themselves with the course
  • Co-Driving Opportunities - new drivers can ride along with seasoned veterans to gain advice and experience
  • Mid-Day Evaluation - At the lunchbreak, new drivers can assess their progress and pick up more tips to improve on their times before the second half of the event
  • Teardown Assistance - gather up cones and flags, help swap tires back and load gear back up before departure.
Most of these sort of things already happen, but most people that are new to rallycross don't know what to expect.  I think more people would participate knowing that there will be support and assistance to make the day great.  Technically, it's what we already do, but by promoting this event and spreading the word about what we do and going through what they can expect, it's much more inviting to new drivers.

The aim is to get more drivers to attend and help grow the program, but we can't do that without retaining participants.  I think that by providing a supportive environment to everyone that we can get more people to return event after event for rallycross.

Friday, September 11, 2015

'16 Crosstrek Changes

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!  David Bowie lyrics or not, it's time for the refresh for the Subaru Crosstrek.  The changes start right there: the name.  Subaru has dropped the "XV" name for the 2016 model, which seems a bit odd to me since this vehicle has been advertised internationally as simply the "XV" anyways. Still, the Crosstrek's changes are abundant.

All 2016 Crosstrek models feature a new front fascia and grille, with redesigned headlights and chrome fog light accent trim. 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, and 2.0i Limited Crosstrek models also feature new machine finish 17" alloy wheels, while the Crosstrek Hybrid and Hybrid Touring trim levels now include a gloss-black painted front grille.  The lines in general are very similar to the 2013-2015 models but take some cues from the new front end seen on the 2015 Impreza.

The interior for the previous 2015 year had an infotainment upgrade but there's an aesthetic facelift inside, too.
"Interiors of all models, except the base Crosstrek 2.0i, receive orange stitching on the seats, door armrests, center console, shift lever handles as well as the redesigned steering wheel. For 2.0i Premium models, both the steering wheel and the shift lever handles are now leather-wrapped. Ivory interiors add visual excitement by updating the monotone interior color to a "high contrast" design with a more modern and dynamic-looking ivory and black color combination. The 2.0i Limited and Hybrid Touring models add gloss black and silver dash trim for a more upscale feel. On models equipped with Keyless Access with Push Button start, PIN code access is also now available."
2016 also adds Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard equipment on 2.0i Limited and Hybrid Touring models. These features are included with optional EyeSight on 2.0i Premium models. Additionally, SUBARU STARLINK™ Safety and Security packages make their way onto 2016 models on the Crosstrek 2.0i Limited, Hybrid Touring, and on 2.0i Premium models equipped with Eyesight.

At the end of the day, the changes only add $100 to the sticker price on these.  Below is running footage of the new exterior changes made.  The footage also reveals one of two new colors for the 2016 models: Hyper Blue!  This is an exclusive color for the BRZ and WRX STI for 2016 that is only available in limited numbers for those models, but it is a standard color available for the Crosstrek.  Jasmine Green (from the Impreza and Forester) also gets added to the lineup which replaces the Plasma Green Pearl.
Check out interior, exterior, and optional equipment photos in the Crosstrek Digital Brochure!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

STI Invasion!! Focus on the US Market

Subaru Rally Team USA is ready with new liveries for their four rally and rallycross drivers that are headed to Red Bull GRC Los Angeles presented by Subaru Tecnica International on September 12th and 13th. The new liveries (with the exception of Pastrana's) feature large "STI" logos on the drivers and passenger sides in their traditional Cherry Blossom Red colors.  Their drivers, Bucky Lasek, Sverre Isachsen, David Higgins and Travis Pastrana with support from Vermont SportsCar and Subaru Tecnica International will take on the LA double-header event to be held this month.  This will represent the biggest lineup Subaru has ever had at a racing event in the US.  Tuner cars, show cars, and everything in-between, Subaru is sure to put on a great show at the Port of San Pedro!    

With Subaru Tecnica International presenting the event and a large showing for the company in general, perhaps this is the beginning of the direction Subaru intends to go with promoting STI in the United States.  You'll remember that, at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Subaru of America President and COO Tom Doll along with STI President Yoshio Hirakawa stated that the US will be STI's Top Priority Market.  In the Press Conference, Hirakawa stated that "Going forward, we intend to bring complete cars to the US as well." The conference focused on how STI fits into Subaru's new "Prominence 2020" vision as one of 3 areas of emphasis for future growth.  

With that in mind, the GRC event in Los Angeles is more than just Subaru showing off their cars.  This is a clear step forward in promoting Subaru as a performance brand in the US spearheaded by STI.  The rallycross event will likely be one of many more promotions with STI to propel that third pillar of the Prominence 2020 brand further along.  As a business, Subaru Tecnica International is setting up a great way to reach the fans they already have and make their intentions known to the rest of the racing community by entering four of their best prepared rallycross machines at this GRC event.  Stacked deck?  Sure is!  Ready to make an impression and get more people thinking Subaru?  You bet!  It's an excellent strategy and a great way to continue to promote STI and Subaru.