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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,


I'm looking for feedback on the current state of Group N in the SCCA ProRally championship.


1. Where are we at in regards to full compliance with FIA rules?


2. What is the perceived level competition in Group N?


3. What does the future look like, 2003 field?


I'm interested to hear what people think of the fastest growing class in prorally.


Peter :D
 

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what are you trying to stir the pot ? ok here goes. I assume you are talking about N4, as opposed to N in general.

1) Depending on who you talk to and what the political motivation is, the answer could be "we are fully compliant" or the answer could be "almost no compliance at all". The reality is somewhere in the middle.

Some teams have tried to be absolutely 100% legal, (the rules are actually more clear than say, PGT rules), and some teams have made little or no effort at all (competitor enforcement will always deliver this situation). The excuse of 'its too hard' or 'I cant find the parts' is a lame one, the only valid excuse is 'I dont understand rule xxx can someone help me', and given the structure, there actually isn't (or I should say, wasn't) anyone to ask.

A lot of people seem to be taking the 'I would rather not bother because using the ****'d part is not going to make any difference' path but when pushed on it then Group N becomes 'hard to understand and too complicated'. The fact that a lot of people influencing decisions haven't tried to interpret the rules or even read homologation papers for more than their own car makes it difficult, but I think from talking to people, those in the know DO know, and given the state of the class (and the fact that the leader is running a solid car) it doesn't matter.

I would say that at CT I saw about 3 cars that would pass any complete tear down at international level (down to the nitty gritty including details like laminated safety glass), 5-6 that were completely not legal on major issues like transmission/engines, and a futher 5 or so that had the major things on them legal and just details to sort out. It was pretty funny at the post event 'teardown on restrictors' (an SCCA first ? just kidding) to see the realities of the situation. I won't elaborate on that.

It isn't hard to comply with the rules, as more people begin to become familiar with the rules, but with any unknown set of rules at the beginning it is hard. The difficulty arises when those who have the power to affect event results are applying selective criteria to the importance of following some rules over others, as I have above (for example, I could have just stated that only 3 cars seemed legal, but the reality is, about 8 were close to fully legal).
Out of all the cars, only 1 or 2 are even close to being high spec.

2) Is that a driver calibre or car class question ? Oh well, I will try to address both.

I ran N at Cherokee, we got our asses kicked by Kulig, and that was before complete and total brake failure (to the point of not even being able to drive on the transits without pulling into the ditches to slow down). Without the failure we still would have been about 3-4 mins down (we ended up losing a lot of time, over 2.5 mins on the last ran stage, but still came 2nd). You could say it was the car, but that only goes so far. So in global terms, we are uncompetitive, on both driver calibre and cars.

In American terms, there seems to be a lot of runners and there is not (yet) a 'winner by showing up'. By my definition, that is competitive as far as US classes go (I'm not being an ass but you all know what I mean, look at PGT when I ran it in the US as well). So I would say, in American terms, "more competitive than most classes". I think there are 2-3 high spec N cars in the US.

In North American terms, the STPR winner (Canadian) has never come close to winning N in Canada before, and for example if the top Canadian runners ran in the US I would expect them to be right on top of things. (Witness Besner at Maine last year, Thompson at STPR, etc. etc.). So based on results alone I would say the runners in the class are running at a pace 'slightly reduced than in Canada', but then again maybe they knew he wasn't running the championship and let him take off with it. And I don't know what happened to Tim at STPR.

All that being said, we've seen Group N cars run in the top 5, but not from the current US Group N championship runners. So as a car class, it is competitive with Open.

3) You could probably expect the current crop of runners, as well as some new runners, and you can probably expect, given the level of performance and the state of the class, a few hotshoes to come in to see how they fare. But given the state of coverage (in most parts of the world the call N the 'production class') you might see less people, not just in N but all around. If I owned a PGT wrx I would spend the extra cost of what amounts to rims and tires and run it in N. But then again, perhaps a lot of people currently running N would quit if Lovell and Ramana and Scheible were running in N again (maybe Lovells car was never entered in N but it was an N car) ? Or maybe the number of people running it are artifacts of last year, and they are runnign in it because they wanted to compete against the Subaru guys. Or maybe next year we will see a plethora of more Open cars ? Who knows.

In Australia, they banned all but N (as the top points scoring class, you can still run what ya brung), and it is very competitive. And to accomodate the 'non-Group N' manufacturers, they effectively created an Open class, but with similar restrictor sizes and bans on electrics, so basically, their Open is on par with N, so people with works drives can compete against privateers, (obvisouly it only goes so far), and vice-versa.

In Canada, they have downgraded Open restrictors to 34mm and the top open cars are just a smidgeon quicker than the N cars. As a future class, I would say it works but the big problem is that you only have 2 manufacturers solidly in N4.

In the UK they have decided that WRC cars are the way to go for their championship (next year). As always, you can run what ya brung but you cant bring much more. In effect, it is the ultimate 'run what ya brung' class. This is what things could (de)generate to (depends which side of the fence you are on). In France it is Super1600 that is the top class. So there is no one thing that works for everyone, but the goals of the series organizers pretty much dictate what 'top' cars run (ie. in the UK they want to put on a show, in France they want to find the next Loeb/Panizzi/Delecour, in Australia they want to make a show and beat the WRC N4 runners when they come to town (they always do)). And then the rest of the field just runs what they can afford to.
 
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