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Culina Palletforce Racing Prepares To Tackle Tarmac

While the MSA British Rally Championship has switched to Tarmac for this weekend’s second round at the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders, the Culina Palletforce Racing team has also been switching things around to prepare for the event.

The team’s first rally of the 2013 campaign was on gravel where the Citroen DS3s were faced with rough forest tracks through Kielder Forest. But, as we now head to the closed public roads around Kelso and Duns, the cars will look decidedly different and more like their road-going counterparts.

Culina Palletforce Racing team manager Martin Wilkinson

Tackle Tarmac 1

For CA1 Sport, the preparation experts behind the Culina Palletforce Racing team, it means a raft of changes to get their pair of DS3 rally cars into Tarmac specification.

"The main thing people will notice is that the cars have more traditional wheels and tyres rather than the chunky gravel tyres we use for the forests," explains team manager Martin Wilkinson.
"We've changed from 15 inch gravel wheels and tyres to 17 Tarmac versions. The tread pattern of the tyre is also much different as it doesn't have to cope with gravel. On the rally we will use a slick tyre for dry conditions and an intermediate tyre in case of rain. "

And because we have bigger wheels, we can use bigger brakes. We've changed the front discs and that gives us better braking performance.
The other visual feature is a Tarmac car sits much lower. Within the suspension we've changed the dampers, springs and anti-roll bars. The dampers have less travel and are stiffer as they don't need to deal with the rough conditions in a forest. A lower car allows us to drop the centre of gravity which makes the car more stable and generates increased traction.
Generally you want a Tarmac car more precise as drivers adopt more of a circuit racing driving style and need the car to respond and react immediately to any input.


Driving Style

Driving style on sealed surfaces also changes. Where a driver can slide the car around corners on gravel, they usually try to keep it as straight as possible on Tarmac as any sideways movement usually scrubs off all-important speed. And that’s what team driver John MacCrone will be aiming to do when the Jim Clark roars into action on Friday evening.

"Tarmac is my preferred surface and it's what I grew up with on the Isle of Mull," said MacCrone. "The roads on the Jim Clark are much different, however, with lots of junctions and fast sections. It's important to carry speed through the slow corners so you get the maximum drive up the following straight."

In contrast to gravel driving style, you really need to keep the car straight on Tarmac you don't want it moving at all as that's when you're losing time. Braking is always in a straight line and you think more about the racing line through a corner and try to be more precise.

Culina Palletforce Racing driver John MacCrone

Tackle Tarmac 2

My pace-notes don't change much as they have a Tarmac base style but I've been concentrating more on getting my slow corners right as it's too easy to be aggressive and drop time in the low speed sections.
The Jim Clark Rally kicks off at 7pm on Friday evening with crews taking on a total of six stages on Friday and a further 10 on Saturday before finishing back in Kelso at 5pm.

Report courtesy of Culina Palletforce

Culina Palletforce

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