Around this time last year I brought you the story of a Group B rally replica with slightly unconventional underpinnings. Featuring a shortened wheelbase, S1 body kit and a heavily modified 20V five-cylinder engine, the Audi looked and sounded a lot like the works-bred machine that terrorized special stages during the mid 1980s; but under its skin was a driveline borrowed from a late model Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Designed, built and developed by Auckland rally workshop Force Motorsport, the S1 replica was recently sold on, giving the small team the opportunity to momentarily sink their teeth into another Frankenstein-esque build.
Over the past few months I’ve been religiously following the progress of the new project, which is this time centered on a humble, 1.3-litre front-wheel drive Mazda 2 (aka Mazda Demio).
Essentially, Force Motorsport is building the car to capitalise on a recently introduced set of new regulations that allow bespoke machines to compete in New Zealand’s national rally championship. As you might be able to tell from its wide custom-designed fenders, inspiration was drawn from the current crop of WRC cars. But it definitely doesn’t stop with looks.
Beneath the car, custom subframes have been fitted to accommodate a four-wheel drive system, while completely revised suspension turrets front and rear allow the for the extra damper travel that’s required.
Power is coming from a fully built, MoTeC-controlled engine based on the 2.3-litre four-cylinder mill from the Mazdaspeed/MPS version of the Mazda 3 and 6 (aka Axela and Atenza). Furthermore, the engine has been mounted longitudinally and is running into a six-speed dogbox. I’m really excited to see how this project turns out – especially when the Mazda’s dressed in tarmac trim and owner Andrew Hawkeswood is behind the wheel. If you’ve seen him drive, you’ll know why! That said, expect a full feature as soon as the build is completed.
@matt_marks Thank you for sharing the link Mark! We'll have to take a look.
looking at the guys comment under me. speedhunters can you guys discuss fwd platform as a race car. he says honda fwd crap. but i understand one of the major reasons you see these guys out here with modified civics is because its a cheap car to obtain. but is it that much cheaper to build? and why is there no fwd super car?
Small hatchbacks getting the wide arch 4WD treatment ALWAYS gets my vote! Hope the car gets a feature when its done.
Brad, the S1 got sold to a guy based in Australia and will be driving it at Rally Australia in just over a week. Should be great to see the car after hearing alot about it.
You coming over for the event Brad?
In real life the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta are the same car underneath. It would seem easier to just hang the Mazda sheet metal on a Fiesta rally car.
@MazdaCardiff ummm my name is Matt. Lol
@that guy The only reason companies use FWD setup is to control costs. It is cheaper to install the drivetrain in one piece, making production costs lower.
not wanting to end up with a wall of text but their are a few things that hold back a FF super car.
Torque steer. A known draw back with FF layouts but it can be managed if you have the time and money. And use of tires I see as the main reason its not done. Tires can only do so much at once before they slip if you have all the power, steering and breaking done at the front you become much more prone to under steer.
if you have a console get out your copy of Forza or Gran turismo. Take any FF say a Focus RS and crank up the power into the 700's in an otherwise stock car and try and set some times. Then do the same in a FR or AWD car you will find out why its not done.
@EvolveWRC I agree! This little rocket should at least give us some sort of vision of what could be...
@gsrwrc The modifications are being designed so they can be adapted to other similarly-sized FWD hatchbacks, so here's hoping!
@tbtstt Feature coming. I'm hoping I get a drive!
@DaveOliver I heard that, you'll be in for a treat then if the new owner drives it as hard as it was in NZ! Unfortunately I won't be over for Rally Australia, but I'm in Brisbane in a couple of weeks for the Jamboree and Sydney in October for WTAC.
@NicholasMaher Perhaps, but have you seen how much an M-Sport Fiesta costs?!
@BradLord Between the Audi Quattro S1 replica, Lancia Rallye 037 Grp B and the MG Metro 6R4, plus the other great classic cars its going to be a blast seeing the Group B cars drive.
See you down at WTAC in Oct.
@BradLord Yes the R5 model (not WRC spec though close) is around $200,000. It may cost that building this "one off'. Not that I don't applaud the effort.
@DaveOliver Damn, now I want to go!!! Definitely, I'm really looking forward to WTAC this year!
The R5 is 180k euro to buy , but the worst part is having to buy the replacement components from the likes of Msport, at the last rally in Germany, they were replacing steering racks on the R5 Fiesta every service...one competitor who hit nothing all rally and finished with no damage had a parts bill for the event of 40k euro...that's why these cars designed in NZ will work, using a combination of Subaru, Mitsubishi and even Toyota Hilux parts, with a lot of fabricated parts that are made smart and cost effective.
Well if you search a bit more the Fiesta and Mazda2 does share some parts but they are a lot differences between the two.
I low cost upgrade for the Mazda2 is to swap the 1.5l for a MZR 2.0l or 2.3l with performance parts. Cosworth makes great parts for the 2.0l 2.3l MZR, they made from 200hp-260hp at the flywheel. Imagine that in a 2,300lbs car ;)
@NicholasMaher @BradLord I was wondering if this is being built to the same R5 regulations. Developing a car from the ground up certainly is an expensive option, and far more costly than simply purchasing a bespoke racecar that would include a spares package, technical development and expertise from M-Sport. Depending on the specifics within the Appendix J for R5, it could be that the team needed to build from a Mazda unibody, otherwise it would just be a Ford Fiesta (according to homologation).