A number of major manufacturers invest considerable sums of money each year in a world rallying program. From the outside, a casual observer would question the millions of dollars spent to pursue this pastime, but the manufacturer has very real reasons for this involvement. How does this benefit you when you buy a ‘normal’ car from one of these manufacturers?
Involvement for a Reason
The model of car that you drive today owes a lot to motor sporting heritage and technology. Many of the components that are either taken for granted, or are now helping to revolutionise the driving experience, originated on the testbed of world rallying at one point: a tough development program as the world rallying scene pits drivers and cars against the toughest driving conditions around the globe.
Lighter and Cheaper
For example, you will notice that carbon fibre has been used to construct your car. It’s extremely strong and has the benefit of being lightweight. It used to be quite expensive and complex to work with, but now it can be used to great benefit in terms of strengthening your vehicle and making it cheaper to run. This originated in the cauldron of motorsport. Ford parts are just an example of such innovations.
Your vehicle will also likely benefit from systems developed to harvest energy. These systems allow the rally car to enjoy boosted power settings for competition, but commercially these systems are used to reduce fuel consumption by harvesting wasted energy from braking in road cars.
Everything to Hand
Have you noticed that there are a number of control switches on your steering wheel? This is also something that was developed in the world of competition, where the driver needed instant access to various components. Today, you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel in order to access the controls for all the major functions and this is thanks to development in the world of motorsport.
Perhaps one of the greatest developments to transfer from the rally stage to your production vehicle is in the realm of traction control. Complex electronic systems were developed on the rally stage for the last couple of decades. The versions on your car of today allow the central computer to determine when you are losing grip on a slippery road and reallocate the power to the other wheels in order to maintain as much traction and control as possible. While this would help to score special stage wins on the rally track, it’ll also keep you safe on the road today.