What has been modified on Block’s Hyundai?

The ARA has mandated some tweaks be made to Ken Block's i20 Coupe WRC for it to be legal to compete

Ken Block_Hyundai_3

As you no doubt know by now, Ken Block will be driving a former World Rally Championship Hyundai i20 in the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship; becoming the second to enter the series in the latest spec of World Rally Car after Barry McKenna’s M-Sport Ford Fiesta.

To recap, McKenna’s Fiesta WRC had many changes made to fit into ARA when it debuted on the 100 Acre Wood Rally 12 months ago. The weight was raised from 2600lbs to 2900lbs, the electronic diffs were switched out for mechanical ones and boost limits were changed.

While all of these are true of Block’s Hyundai, the M-Sport Fiesta was altered to encompass a new transmission and engine. But the Hyundai is different. So while McKenna had to switch to a manual sequential, Block has been allowed to keep the paddle shifters.

To remedy this, ARA competition director Preston Osborn worked closely with Hyundai Motorsport to nerf the car in other ways to make it preform more on the same level as the other high end cars in the series.

“Working with the Hyundai team, working with the FIA, of course we have access to all the homologation paperwork,” Osborn told DirtFish. “The way the transmission is designed, the reality is that you can’t convert it to standard style, mechanically operated shifting mechanisms.

“The hydraulics are pretty much integrated into the case and so it was not a change that was possible.

“What we determined in working with the FIA, the studies that they have done, is the paddle shift vs the manually activated shifter is about a 50ms difference. So it is a very, very small difference, but of course the less tangible factor to that is not taking your hands off the steering wheel, and obviously it’s difficult to measure any advantage that way.

“The compromise we made with Hyundai was unlike what Barry [McKenna] was able to do with his car by putting in a larger engine, or like Subaru running a two-liter engine.

“We restricted them to the homologated engine and the homologated turbo so they’re not able to make changes to, say, optimize the 34mm restrictor, or put in a larger engine to make equal power to Subaru and McKenna.

“The engine is still more advanced than say an RC2 or Rally2 car, it’s just from a power standpoint, obviously with the restrictor in play the equations are a bit different between a two-liter and a 1.6-liter, but the reality is the potential is greater with a two-liter engine.”

Osborn and the rest of the team at ARA will be watching this weekend’s stage times closely to ensure that the competition is kept balanced and fair, and will be ready to make further changes next round.

Ken Block_Hyundai_1

“The nice thing is we have a lot of metrics to measure the performance level of cars independent of the drivers,” Osborn explains. “For example, RallySafe gives us a certain amount of data for us to analyze to see the performance of the car.

“With us giving an exemption to Hyundai this is something that we’re going to be paying very close attention to, and if our initial calculations are off-base and this car is far superior from a performance standpoint based on the rest of the competition, we do always have balancing power available to us.

“Our team, we’ve done our due diligence. Once we have raw data after 100 Acre Wood, then we can reflect on that decision, and if we need to make changes to ensure that we are preserving that competition.”