Team GTI

Rally Preparations for Project GTI

Summer 2005

Team GTI's venture into the world of rallying, at September's Rally Tennessee, requires some specialized improvements to the Golf. Remember that part of the rationale behind the project was to leave the car street legal - a requirement for rallies that use public roads as transits between high-speed special stages - but there are a number of additions still required.

One critical improvement is the addition of a 1/4" thick aluminum skid plate under the engine. While not as hard on the undercarriage as a typical gravel rally, the paved route of Rally Tennessee may still have its share of bumps and intersection crests, waiting to inflict damage on the underside of the engine.

This piece, from Joe Bedics, is an early production unit custom built for the MkIII Golf. It is actually targeted to the street performance market, where VWs are regularly lowered enough that they risk bottoming fragile oil pans and accessories.

The PhilsTireService.com team modified the mounts a bit, welding tabs to the subframe where the typical street user would simply use through-bolts - a change dictated by the need for quicker access during rally services, than would be required by most enthusiasts.

Otherwise, the piece will be raced as-delivered, as part of Bedics' product testing process.

While the lower radiator support subframe was out for the skid plate installation, we added these neat nylon bushings from 247-parts.com.

The stock soft rubber bushings that they replace support the cross member, that in turn holds up the front engine mount. Since aftermarket engine mounts are not allowed under Improved Touring rules, and the original bushings allow more motion than the engine mount, the addition of these hard pieces actually serves to locate the engine more solidly.

Tests at Virginia International Raceway indicate that the addition of the skid plate and light pod do not create any negative effects, other than limiting top speed by about 5 mph. Cooling was a concern but, even though the floor seems to be a little hotter at low speeds - due to limited air reaching the catalytic converter under those conditions - everything appears to be fine.

Revised spring rates and damper settings were also tested in preparation for Rally Tennessee. Handling was actually determined to be better with a full fuel tank and spare tire than without.

The interior gets a lot of attention as we prepare for two people in the cockpit, rather than one. A second Recaro racing seat, harness, and window net are installed, and cage padding is added to crucial areas to protect the co-driver.

This major change is possible only because the original Competition Cages rollcage design did not triangulate across the passenger side of the car.

The co-driver's seat rides on a modified stock seat frame base, that fits into the original slider rails and provides a surface on which to mount the Recaro side brackets. This approach was necessary because the Improved Touring category rules, to which the car must adhere for road racing, do not allow additional welded elements beyond the allowed 8 rollcage mounting points.

The co-driver's space is completed with the addition of a goose-neck map light and a rally computer - essentially a fancy odometer, driven by an inductive pick up the records the rotational speed of the front axle, at the inboard CV joint.

Rallying also requires that a car be more self-sufficient than is the case during a circuit race. Mandated and crew-chosen goodies mounted securely in the cockpit include a spare tire, jack, reflective triangles, tow strap, toolkit, flashlight, and personal gear bags for the crew members.

There's no such thing as a little error in a rally car.

The PhilsTireService.com team's rally debut was going great until the day after this picture was shot. More details are available and we are rebuilding instead of racing this fall.

Last updated 28 November, 2008
All photos K. Knestis unless otherwise noted

Project GTI is headquartered in Greensboro, NC


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