Ian Walling, aka ‘driveforward’ is a well known member of various SEAT and VW forums in the UK, thanks, in part to his exploits in his SEAT Arosa Track day car.
If you have read Speedhunters from the beginning, then you may remember our post on Paul Bindley's similar VW Lupo.
As part of Volkswagen Group, the Arosa and Lupo shared most parts, the car being built in one of SEAT's factories during the 90's. Both cars have become quite popular in the aftermarket community, with the Arosa being the rarer of the two. Arosa Sports are even fewer and far between than their Lupo counterparts, making this trackday version quite unique.
Ian has owned a number of SEATs and modded each one to various degrees and was an early member of SEATCupra.net, the biggest SEAT enthusiasts forum. He bought this, then stock Arosa 1.4 16v Sport, back in December 2007 and set about turning this car into a track day special, with one objective in mind. Tackling the infamous Nurburgring Nordshleife. After three months of intensive modifying, the car was ready for the 2008 season at the 'ring.
Although the car may only have a 1.4 litre 16v engine it still produces 116bhp (up from the stock 100bhp), however the key here is the handing and minimum weight to ensure maximum momentum can be carried through the twists, crests and complexes that make up the Green Hell. This combination has lead to the car receiving great attention, not least because it can lap in the region of 8minutes 50 seconds!!!
Having the catalyst removed and straight through exhaust helps, but fitting the 4-2-1 manifold released the most power from the engine. Handling has been transformed with KW Variant-1 coilovers and rear Jabbasport anti-roll bar.
The Brembo front discs tucked behind Team Dynamic Pro Race 1.2 wheels wrapped in grippy Toyo R888 tyres help cement the handling package.
Externally, Ian has added bespoke front and rear bumpers, Aerocatch bonnet/hood pins (now essential for Touristenfaherten at the 'ring) and some aggressive black vinyl touches. Brake ducts have also been integrated into the bumper, helping to maintain the performance of the brakes.
All non-essential interior trim and components were removed and heavy stock doors have been replaced by Aluminium parts from the Lupo GTi.
Internally, a custom OMP roll cage has been fitted along with Sparco race seats and the usual 6 point harness. The Arosa has been on a big weight saving diet and only the essentials remain. Electric windows and stereo remain- some practicalities are required for driving the car across Europe.
Despite the 'luxuries', even with the rollcage fitted, the car weights in at 980kg.
At least there is room for the important stuff in the back….
Although the car has been seen various track days in the UK, its main job is to thunder around the Nurburgring where it completed 128 laps in 2008, and had already clocked up 115 laps in 2009, and is only May!
In total, Ian has racked up over 275 laps at the circuit now, setting his record of 67 laps in one weekend in April!
The car gets lots of coverage on the forums, including SEATCupra.net and Club GTi as people are impressed how quick this car can take corners – especially the famous Karrussel.
‘Ringing isn’t always this much fun though.
Back in 2008, like so many regulars have experienced, an incident resulted in radiator and bodywork damage meaning the car had to be recovered from the track. The Arosa was shipped back to the UK for a rebuild, and returned to the ‘ring to resume lapping only one month later. When you attend regularly, you have to be prepared for such eventualities – it is the most dangerous circuit on Earth after all.
For 2009, the car gained the black bonnet/hood stripes to match the front grille and the black roof along with oil pressure, temperature and volt gauges. Great to see cars like this driven hard, and that is certainly the case with this Arosa!
Following the fitment of fresh brakes and tyres at the halfway point in the year, Ian will be back at the ring in June to resume the years lapping.
Images: Ian Walling, Lorna Phelps, John Cass