Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard and his NOS Energy Team ACP Racing will debut a new engine in the intense competition this weekend at RallyCar’s second Rallycross event in North America. The 2009 North American Rally Champion placed fifth overall at the previous event in the series in August, but did so with a blown headgasket on their Mitsubishi Evolution IX throughout the event.

The new engine, built at AMS Motorsport in Chicago and installed at race shop Rallispec near Philadelphia, uses Brian Crower internals and custom JE Pistons to the same specs ACP Racing used to take the bronze medal in this year’s X Games Rally Car event.

“We added a few tricks to this one” said Comrie-Picard, “but it’s essentially the tried and true formula that took us to the championship and through the X Games this year. We’re still going to have to search for more power, but this is a step in the right direction.”

The team will still run the engine on the 40mm intake restrictor and OEM Mitsubishi turbo that they normally use in rally competition. “We haven’t found the right turbo-tune formula to make this car run fast on the 45mm restrictor allowed by the Rallycross rules,” said crew chief Eric Vlasic, “so we’re staying on the small restrictor which is good for torque off the line. Andrew should be able to pull on the starts, but he’ll just have to deal with staying in front of the more powerful cars once they’re all up to speed.”

The top-spec Ford Fiestas of Olsbergs and the Citroen C4 of Liam Doran are all well-developed cars developed for this format of racing flown over from Europe for these events in America. All run the large restrictors and develop close to 600hp, almost twice what the main North American competitors – including ACP Racing – are typically making from their rally-derived cars.

Comrie-Picard doesn’t see this as an impediment. “We’ve got lots of game that isn’t all about the power. First off, we have the BFGoodrich rally-spec tires from their WRC and IRC efforts, which are terrific. And if it’s wet, we have other options in this range that the other guys don’t have.” Southern New Jersey was affected by flooding late Thursday night and Friday morning from heavy rains, although these are expected to taper through the weekend.

“Second, I’ve got a bit more track and short-course experience than some of the other guys, and that helped in the previous event. That advantage is small and won’t last for long, but I plan to maximize the edge” claimed Comrie-Picard.

The event will be extremely competitive, with former European Championship-winning platforms in the Ford Fiestas and the Citroen C4, and the debut of Rhys Millen to the format in an ex-WRC Hyundai Accent. Combined with the nail-biting, fan-friendly, and highly-televisable Rallycross format, the series is bound to succeed as it builds momentum into 2011.

“When you’ve got more manufacturers coming in and cars flying over from Europe for a new American racing series, you know you’re on to something,” said Comrie-Picard. “This is a series that’s getting huge.”

The NOS Energy team will return at the next scheduled Rallycross event on November 6-7 at the same venue, which will be the last of the three-event 2010 series. For next year, “watch this space,” quipped Comrie-Picard. “We’ll be busy this winter getting ready to take this series in 2011.”

Comrie-Picard will be interviewed on Road & Track Speed Radio this Saturday Oct. 2 at 1pm Pacific, 4pm Eastern. The broadcast is distributed through various local affiliates and can be streamed at www.radioamerica.org. You can read his feature article on rally driving techniques in the current issue of Grassroots Motorsports.

ABOUT THE DRIVER:
Andrew Comrie-Picard is the 2009 North American Rally Champion and in 2010 competed in X Games for a fifth time and won a bronze medal. He also drifts at the professional level for Dodge Motorsports and BFGoodrich in the FormulaD drift championship in a Viper. When he isn’t racing, Comrie-Picard works in film, television, and print media as an automotive expert; he hosts the television show Ultimate Car Build-off (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/ultimate-car-build-off/) airing on Discovery Channel. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

ABOUT RALLYCROSS:
Rallycross is a highly-exciting, fan-oriented motorsport in which 500+ horsepower cars go head-to-head on a closed-circuit dirt and tarmac course. More info can be found at www.rally-america.com

The ACP Rally program is made possible by: NOS Energy (www.drinknos.com), BFGoodrich (www.bfgoodrichtires.com), Motul (www.motulusa.com), Oakley (www.oakley.com), AMS (www.amsperformance.com), Brian Crower (www.briancrower.com), JE (www.jepistons.com), Exedy (www.exedyusa.com), Ohlins (www.ohlinsusa.com), Enkei Wheel (www.enkei.com), Albins Off Road Gears (www.albinsgear.com.au), Mishimoto (www.mishimoto.com), Recaro (www.recaro.com), Lincoln Electric (www.lincolnelectric.com), Innovate Motorsports (www.tuneyourengine.com), Works (www.worksevo.com), NGK (www.ngksparkplugs.com), Rockford Fosgate (www.rockfordfosgate.com), Piloti (www.piloti.com), K&N (www.knfilters.com), and Skull Candy (www.skullcandy.com).

For more information and video highlights, visit: www.acpracing.com and read the team’s blog at www.drinknos.com. Find us on YouTube or Twitter under ACPRacing, and at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=648360509

ACP leads into first corner at New Jersey Rallycross in August, photo by Neil McDaid

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