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Event

World Rally Championship Round 11 – Rally GB

22nd October 2018 — by Steve White

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It has been some time since we have featured stage rallyING on Fueltopia and there seems no better way to address that then with a look at the pinnacle of rally, the World Rally Championship.

This blog is a little shorter than my usual contributions as I travelled to Wales with spectating, rather than photography, foremost in my mind.  Given that I snapped off a few shots though, it seemed like a wasted opportunity to not post a few words about the biggest UK rally event of the year.

Subaru Impreza GDB National Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

It has been many years since I last visited a World Rally Championship round and, having been forewarned that travel between stages during the event can be problematic, I elected to stay on one stage for the whole day.

Myherin was the most Southerly stage of the event and, at just over 18 miles in length, it offered a multitude of vantage points for those willing to put their hiking boots on. Each of the Saturday stages saw two passes from the International class – i.e. the World Rally Championship competitors – and a single pass from the National crews.

Craig Breen Citroen C3 Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

The National entry was the bigger of the two, with 80 cars entered, while the International entry comprised of 60 cars, among which were eleven of the much vaunted 2018 specification World Rally Cars. Although I am keen on rallying at all levels, it was the chance to see the 2018 cars that had convinced me to make the long trek to deepest Wales.

So was the journey worth it? Unquestionably. These latest cars are not just blistering quick, but they look loose and dynamic at speed. You hear them coming long before you see them, then they flash by in an instant, lacerating the treeline with gravel before sweeping round the next corner. I was afraid that the press and video clips had exaggerated their presence but, if anything, nothing I have seen or read has truly conveyed the spectacle of the current generation of WRCars.

Skoda Fabia R5 Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

The most numerous entries in the 60 car International field were R5 class cars competing for WRC2 honours. I have struggled to get enthusiastic about supporting classes in previous seasons, but I think the R5 category is superb and has been a huge boost to both WRC2 and National level rallying.

Although the R5 cars are far from cheap, they are as quick as all but the most modern WRCars and, in my eyes, just as entertaining to watch.

Ford Escort National Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

While the International class was populated with the latest cutting edge rally weaponry, the National class comprised a much broader spectrum of cars, from recently retired WRC machinery to rear wheel drive classics.

MG Metro 6R4 National Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

Surely the rarest car in the National field, the distinct V6 scream of a Metro 6R4 sounded fantastic echoing through the Welsh valleys. I enjoy watching Group B cars in any environment, but seeing one used on a forest rally stage seems that bit more authentic.

Jari Matti Latvala Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

The Toyota Gazoo Racing pairing of Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja held the spotlight for the first half of the rally after the duo established an early lead. Alas their run – along with their chances of a fourth consecutive victory – came to end on Saturday when an impact damaged the radiator of their Yaris.

However it was Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala who most impressed me in Wales. Throughout the last few seasons I had started to suspect that Jari-Matti might be past his prime, but he delivered a sensational drive in the closing stages of Rally GB including a jaw-dropping performance on the Sunday Power Stage.

Ford Escort National Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

Following a track day earlier this year I declared the Audi Quattro as the most influential car in rallying but, reluctant to make too many sweeping statements in one go, I held off declaring the Ford Escort as the most iconic car in the sport.

Still, it’s hard to think of a better image to represent rally through the ages than a Mk.2 Escort sideways on the loose though, isn’t it?

Roger Duckworth Subaru Impreza National Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

Although I think it’s a stretch to argue it as the most iconic rally car of all time, the early WRCar variants of the Impreza are surely the most memorable shape of modern rallying.

Racking up a number of fastest stage times Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield took the ex-Juha Kankkunen Impreza S6 WRC to third overall in the National class.

Sebastien Ogier Ford Fiesta M-Sport Rally GB 2018 WRC World Rally Championship

Recovering from a damaged gearbox in the early stages of the rally, eventual victory went to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who dropped as low as seventh before eventually seizing the lead. I read a comment online shortly after Ogier took victory, describing Sebastien as having “a knack for making mercurial performances look both undramatic and effortless”. Despite pondering the matter for the last week I’m still unable to think of a more eloquent way to summarize his talent.

The World Championship continues to be led by Theirry Neuville, but victory for Ogier has seen him close the gap while Ott Tanak, despite his Welsh woes, is still not out of the picture. The penultimate round takes place this weekend and, with a renewed sense of awe for both the drivers and the latest specification World Rally Cars, I will be glued to the TV throughout!

 

Words and pictures: Steve White

Want to see more of the World Rally Championship in Wales? Click here for a full image gallery.

Event

The Final, championships are decided

17th October 2018 — by Fueltopia Events

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As storm Callum battered the UK this weekend, the Fueltopia events teamed braved the elements at Santa Pod Raceway for the Final round of the 2018 Barrel Sprint Championship

The RWD championship was tied-up by Ryan Milton at round 5 just a few weeks ago and although after 4 consecutive top spots on the podium; It wasn’t to be a 5th win for the Zestino driver he finished 2nd giving him enough points to claim the title.

The win went to 2018 rookie Neal Beagley in his MX5 and the reign of the MX5 continued at round 6 with a battle between Spencer Peacock and Gavin Riddell in the RWD final. The top two qualifiers went into the head to head battle and with one win each, it was all down the times and overall a 0.5 second gap between them.

Round 6 went to the Riddler, Gavin’s first top spot on the podium and he couldn’t have been happier to take his place on that step.

In U1, it had been Andy Biddles season and he had the championship sewn up before round 6. That doesn’t mean the brothers don’t give it their all and when head to head in the finals its anyone’s. Andy however took the win the 2018 championship title with another win.

The AWD class was to be tied up at round 6. Jonathan Buck had taken an early lead in the championship over the first 4 rounds, leading ahead of Scoobyclinic teammate Dmitrij Sribnyj by 6 points.

After engine failure hit Jonathan’s Subaru and not wanting to miss out on any vital points, he bought his new project car to race. His new Subaru powered Mini, purchased just a few weeks before, it had not undergone any testing besides a few donuts in his yard. (You may have seen the video after it went viral on facebook).

A few runs really showed off the potential the car has, and we can’t wait to see it out on track once it has been fixed up and set up to race. Round 5 finished with Dmitrij on the top step and Bucky nabbed 8 points for 2nd.

Round 6 came around and 6 drivers signed on ready to claim those last vital championship points. 4 points separated the Scoobyclinic teammates, whilst fighting for 3rd in the championship and equal on points after 5 rounds were Andy Stevens and Michael Irwin.

Both the Scoobyclinic drivers had shipped their cars off to South Africa earlier in the week. So Bucky brought out the Mini again, whilst Sribnyj was back in his Subaru Impreza for the final.

Still with lots of work to do when it came around to qualifying Bucky finished outside of the top 4 and wouldn’t make it into the battle stages. Sribnyj qualified highest and with a minimum of 6 points it meant that he had secured the 2018 Championship for the 6th year!

In the battle of 3rd Andy Stevens qualified 2nd and Michael Irwin in 4th. Andy’s first battle was against Yordan Andreev where he took the win, after Andreev made an error n his first run resulting in a DNF. Two clean runs took Stevens into the final and a battle between Dmitrij and Michael Irwin ended with engine failure for Irwin and a place in the final for Sribynj.

The final commenced, and the first run saw a small error for Dmitrij, giving Andy Stevens a 1.1 second lead over the champion. The second run was clean for both drivers, but clearly frustrated at himself, Dmitrij pulled out the fastest run of the day at 24.593 seconds. The total tallied up and Sribnyj took the round win from Andy by just 0.4 seconds.

So, that’s it! Both race championships tied up and winners confirmed, all that’s left is for us to celebrate another great year with the Fueltopia Family at the inaugural end of season awards in November!

Thank you to all our 2018 sponsors, Ruislip Tyres, Samcosport, Icaris Timing Solutions, HPI Racing, Hel performance, Aireshelta Inflatables, Jelf Motorsport Insurance, Syclone signs and graphics and CTRL.

Reviews

KTM 790 Duke – The Wild Child

17th October 2018 — by Mark Turner

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KTM 790 Duke; In 1934 Hans Trunkenpolz founded a repair workshop in Mattighofen, Upper Austria. It became one of the largest car and motorcycle garages in Upper Austria. Iin 1953, Hans started building his own Motorcycles under the name of ‘Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen’.
Kronreif meaning motor-vehicle, Trunkenpolz was the founder and Mattighofen was the location.

KTM 790 DUKE

KTM as it came to be known, now have a rich and successful motorcycle pedigree. Countless world championships across a wide range of disciplines from Motocross to Endurance to Moto3 and much more. They have become one of the most successful motorcycle brands in history. KTM has been one of the world’s fastest-growing motorcycle manufacturers for some time now. 2016 was the company’s sixth consecutive record year and in 2018, they unleashed the 790 Duke on the world.  

KTM say they have forged the ultimate street weapon. With the agility of a 600, with the raw punch of an 800.
Small, light and fast, the KTM 790 Duke is powered by the brand new LC8c parallel twin engine. It’s the most compact power plant of its class, kicking out 105 hp at 9,000 rpm and the whole bike weighs in at just 169 kg dry.

KTM were nice enough to let me have a play on one of their 790 Dukes. I only had it for a day but what a day.
When you first swing your leg over, the Duke feels small, like a 250, narrow and short. It’s purposeful and uncomplicated. Aesthetically, the 790 is maybe not prom queen material. She’s more like that troubled girl that scares you slightly but you just know she’ll be a whole lot of fun……..and she is.

KTM 790 DUKE

Press the starter and it barks into life. The parallel twin sounds just like a V twin with a powerful and potent rumble.
Kick it into 1st gear and roll out. Immediately, you feel how agile the chassis is. It falls in to corners easily and feels so alive. The first couple of miles were taken gently and cautiously, the last thing i wanted was to have to make a call KTM to explain how i broke their bike.

Once you start increasing the pace, the 790 really starts to make sense.
It’s great at commuting, it’s noisy, torquey and very easy to maneuver, making light work of slicing through town. As you leave the 30mph confines and the road start to open up and the pace increases, the KTM loves it. The harder you push, the better it gets, It really is a little hooligan.

It’s fitted with a quickshifter as standard so going up and down through the 6 speed box is effortless, helped by a slipper clutch (PASC™). I found a couple of false neutrals on the way up through the ‘box but put it down to the bike having been a press bike that’s probably seen it’s fair share of abuse.

KTM 790 DUKE

There’s a funky ultra lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel trellis frame with bolt-on aluminum rear subframe and very cool looking die-cast aluminum open lattice swingarm and at the sharp end you’ll find 43mm upside-down WP suspension forks fitted with progressive springs. 

Out back is a WP suspension, gas-assisted, directly linked rear shock, also with progressive spring and 12-stage adjustable preload.
Front brakes are KTM branded, radial 4-piston calipers with a radial front brake master cylinder working on twin 300 mm front brake discs. TI thought the whole lot was excellent, needing little more than 2 fingers.

KTM’s 790 Duke has ride mode technology with customizable track mode as standard. This wild child is among the best equipped bikes in this arena, with ride mode technology with customizable track mode as standard. It Boasts an array of tech usually seen on bikes costing twice as much; Cornering ABS including Supermoto mode (for backing it in), lean-angle sensitive motorcycle traction control (MTC), motor slip regulation (MSR), Quickshifter+, and even launch control work seamlessly to make this a very serious weapon.

KTM 790 DUKE

The compact and neat TFT dashboard works with KTM MY RIDE which is a smartphone app that is an awesome tool, click the link to see what it can do.
There’s a simple menu switch on the left bar that is backlit. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but it’s really good at night. Lights are all LED but we didn’t get to try the headlight in the dark.

KTM have fitted Maxxis Superamaxx ST tyres which on my test ride on dry, warm roads, were great. It had a brand new rear tyre so I took a few miles to wear it in but they felt very stable, loads of grip, easily able to get a knee down without feeling it was anywhere near the limit of grip.

KTM say the goal with the 790 Duke was to create the ultimate street weapon. Ultimate is a big boast but it is really, really good.
In my opinion it was all the bike you’ll ever need. You can jump on it and pop to the shops or head off to a track day, it will easily do everything and do it bloody well.
The only issue was the complete lack of protection. It’s a naked bike so no fairing, not even a fly screen. On a commuter it’s not even slightly an issue but the 790 is fast, so you’re at mad speeds most of the time. On dual carriageways and motorway it’s tiring but…….don’t go on them!

KTM 790 DUKE

Brilliant, fast, light and more fun that any bike has a right to be. That’s how i’d sum the KTM 790 Duke. Accelerating hard, throwing gears at it with the quickshifter doing it’s job, cutting through the countryside at daft speeds. Looking for trouble, adrenaline pumping, the parallel twin barking and shouting “is that all you’ve got”.

Riding the 790 Duke was a pure, visceral experience. I keep catching myself daydreaming about it now, imagining gunning it out of a corner or flicking from side to side through a roundabout.

Thanks very much KTM. I won’t forget you….

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Reviews

Suzuki V-Strom1000XT

11th October 2018 — by Mark Turner

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Suzuki V-Strom1000XT. I would have loved to see the look on the old guys face, comfortably oblivious of his surroundings, safe in his generic eurobox, as we exited the roundabout side by side, me on the V-Strom, cranked over will a full set of luggage. ‘Round the outside, hard on the gas, then off in to the distance.
I’d like to think he would have turned to Dorris in the passenger seat and muttered, “I didn’t expect that.”

Suzuki V-Strom1000XT

Truth be told, neither did I. I’ve always been a sports bike kind of guy but am well aware of the changing market trends. Sports bike sales are generally slowing down, and the smaller 600cc bikes are on their last legs, some have disappeared from manufacturers ranges all together.
Growth is in the naked, adventure and retro style bikes.
Suzuki threw me the keys of a V-Strom1000XT recently so I thought I’d find out for myself what this adventure bike lark is all about.

The 1037cc 90 degree V twin kicks out 100 bhp and 101 Nm torque, which aren’t massive numbers, but there’s more to this bike that just the numbers.
The torque comes in from 4k rpm with peak bhp around 8k rpm. It make for a very useable bike, easy to crack the throttle and overtake safely but the low down torque means you can cruise at low revs for hours.
Stopping the V-Strom is easy thanks to radial mounted four piston monobloc Tokico brake calipers biting on to twin 310mm diameter discs on the front, and a 260mm diameter single disc with a single piston caliper on the rear.
The Bosch ABS system has what Suzuki call “Motion Track Brake System¹” which uses a 5-Axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures lean angle and front and rear wheel speeds and provides optimal ABS braking for the situation. Very clever.

Suzuki V-Strom1000XT

There’s also 2 mode traction control.
1 is the lowest level of intervention, allowing sporty riding. It allows an amount of wheel spin so you can have fun.
2 is normal which eliminates wheel spin to ensure a safe ride. Great for riding in the wet.
You can of course turn it off if you want, if you were heading off road for example.

What’s it like to live with? Well, i’m actually quite new to adventure bikes. These days, the roads are in a pretty shit state and i’m older, so i thought i’d give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. The V-Strom100XT is a big beast but so are all adventure bikes in this class. Mine had optional (and expensive) luggage too so i was a bit tentative filtering through traffic.

It’s big, very comfortable, punchy and great fun, way more fun that i expected. It turns well, handles nicely and i’d go as far as to say pretty sporty on the road. Something i particularly liked was the ability to be fast over any road surface. A few times i was riding with other guys on sports bikes on the back roads and they just couldn’t live with the Strom. It’s plush, forgiving suspension just dances over the rough, potholed roads, still giving good feedback and confidence, no doubt helped by the electronics. The guys on their sports bikes were shaken to pieces.

Suzuki V-Strom1000XT

Two up it’s no drama either. You have a knob below the seat to allow you to adjust the preload on the rear shock, so a few clicks and you’re away. You can do it sat on the bike. Still lots of fun and plenty of power when you need it. The large comfortable seat and rear pegs mean pillions are well looked after.

We even took a V-Strom on track, hooning it around Bruntingthorpe with a few other Suzuki’s. Admittedly it’s not the obvious choice as a track slag but it was surprisingly good. It moves around a little when you really push on and the pegs tend to go down, but it’s very good and very funny to see other people’s reactions. It doesn’t do anything stupid, it’ll hold a decent line and doesn’t sit up on the brakes in the corners. It’s a very civilised way to do a track day.

Suspension is great, with 43mm KYB inverted forks up front, adjustable for preload and compression/rebound damping. Bringing up the rear is a KYB shock, adjustable for preload and compression/rebound damping too.
Brakes are radial four piston Tokico monoblock calipers up front on 310mm discs and are strong with none of that wooden feeling you sometimes get with modern ABS equipped bikes.

Suzuki V-Strom1000XT

Why a V-Strom? The adventure bike sector is crammed with bikes. Everyone seems to do one or even several. BMW is the obvious choice and arguably, you can say they started it all.
Yamaha, Triumph, Honda, KTM, Ducati and more all play in this playground.
The V-Strom sits in between most of these interestingly. Generally, adventure bikes are around 1200cc or 800cc (ish). Suzuki’s V-Strom1000 sits in the middle. At 232kg It’s lighter than pretty much all of the competition, even the smallest capacity bikes like the Triumph Tiger 800.
It’s obviously down on power on the big capacity competition but at £9,999 it’s very well priced. A BMW R1200GS for example starts at £12,400 and a Honda Africa twin starts at £11,575.

I could go on and on. I haven’t mentioned  low RPM assist, which raises the engine speed when the clutch is engaged, making it harder to stall the bike, gold wire wheels, standard bashplate, handguards and more.
You really should head to your local Suzuki dealer and get one out for a test ride. I loved it. Fun, fast, practical, comfortable.

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EventPeople

That Gravel Express Subaru is back in the mud again

8th October 2018 — by JimmyDrama1

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With it’s jacked suspension and big tyres, dinged bodywork and patina paintwork, my Gravel Express Subaru is shunned at car shows and with it’s Japanese origins, HKS exhaust and more car like appearance seen as a joke at off-road meets.

Today was show time. The Gravel Express and I have had some adventures off road, but only some mild green lane routes around the green-belt country side of Buckinghamshire, UK. It did appear in a video that looped the internet a few times on Car Throttle, but It was time to give it a real push and take it to it’s limits.

Just like another car meet, the time and location were set. 1000 at a car park in Hemel Hempstead and the meet location was decided, things are looking familiar and it’s now just the Subaru I need to worry about. Pulling up, I meet up with off-road veterans and friends, Rich from Ruislip Tyres and Jack from Wheel Refurbishing, both with off road metal and some know-how under their belts in the mud game.

It’s a muddy game of chess

A convoy procession to the mud pit location and the HKS exhaust bellowed loud over the diesels in-front. Soon we pulled into an unmarked location and got ushered through a locked gate – paying £10 we signed in and were then told to go and have fun, avoid the clearly signed footpaths and the rest was dirt based adventure. As we turned to leave, we were told another ‘new’ group had to be dragged out of the holes with blown diffs, great! Is my 1995 Subaru even going to survive the next few hours of abuse.

Jack’s Defender 110, camera shy

Heading into the country and woodland, it opened up a churned up wonderland of dirt slinging awesomeness. I decided to sit in between the two regular 4×4’s just if I needed a tow at any point. That point never came, the Japanese wagon skipped and flowed behind the purpose built machines and that flat-four delivered bark and horsepower churning the BF Goodrich’s to make light of any sticky elements along the way. The peaceful woodland echo’d with stainless Steel reverberation, I’m JDM and yet feel I need to wear combats and camo like the rest of the 4×4 Nation.

500 pound car, set off decent tyres and you’re set
Would you trade drifting for mudding?

If you’d have asked me a few years ago about off-roading, I’d have thought it was for men who liked real ale, lived at home and were over 50, like knitted jumpers – I couldn’t have been further from the truth. It’s a brutal man and machine Vs Mother Nature motorsport. It’s a muddy game of chassis chess and it’s not tens of thousands of pounds to get going.

Defender 110 makes easy work of the toughest sections

I’m not saying I’m becoming exclusive to the mud club, but I’m certainly going to want to make sure I always have a puddle bashing wagon at my disposal from here on in

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