Between Vienna and Linz, the fastest of the Austrian Rally gathered for the sixth round of the Austrian Rally Championship. Niederösterreich Rallye. There the main battles took place between the two crews, which chased each other throughout the season. One, then the other takes the victory, and the rest of the participants can only dream of a third position at best. Those two crews are 2016 champion Hermann Neubauer with Ford Fiesta R5 and young talent Julian Wagner with Škoda Fabia R5. Although Hermann has more victories, the unfinished opening event caused trouble for him, as he needed to chase Wagner whole season in terms of points. This Niederosterreich rally was won by Neubauer again, reducing the gap to 8 points. The Austrian champion will be revealed in the middle of November during the Rallye W4.
But we will again depart slightly from the mainstream. Amongst a bunch of very interesting cars in the Austrian Championship, the Niederösterreich Rallye had two little specimens still to be seen in the official start order. So far we have found them among the “course car’s”, but I think we will see them in the future competing in the main standings.
The first and visible in the photo is the Suzuki Swift ZMX. Next year, the Austrian Rally Federation lights up the green light for the N-Open class, which we know as the Proto class in Poland or the Baltic States, the N5 in Spain, the AP4 in Asia or the MRT in South America. So this car is being prepared for this class. The Suzuki ZMX features a two-liter Mitsubishi Evolution X engine, sequential gearbox, and Reiger suspension. In other words, another interesting cheaper alternative to the R5 factory masterpieces. This car has so far started in three events – two as a course car and one as a full participant in a regional rally. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see real speed, because of the incident on the first rally stage. But this car will still be available to see next weekend in the final round of the Austrian Championship, where Suzuki Swift ZMX will start in the overall rally standings. This car is manufactured and developed by ZM – Racing in cooperation with Suzuki Austria.
And the second exhibit, the Audi A1 R4, already an FIA approved R4 class participant. The Class R4 fills the gap between the R2 / R3 front-wheel drive and the serious R5 cars. The simple thing is – you buy the R4 kit from Oreca featuring a 1.6 turbo engine, sequential R5 gearbox with the rear differential, electronics, front and rear suspension (without dampers and springs), shafts, brake system, fuel tank with pumps. And you put all of this good in the chassis you want, plus take care of missing parts like internal safety equipment, dampers, springs, radiators, exhaust, wheels, and so on. Still, it’s not a cheap thing. Such a car is usually only 20% cheaper than the R5, but it is 40% cheaper to service.
There are currently 5 R4 models on the road:
Audi A1 R4 – debuted this year in Austria, drove in three stages as a course car.
Dacia Sandero R4 – debut also in 2019, two events in Spain and one in Belgium.
Mini Cooper R4 – the same 2019 and five starts in Finland.
Fiat MR 500X R4 – very active in collecting kilometers in France.
Toyota Etios R4 – This model already has more history. Audi, Dacia, Mini, and Fiat have only one model created, while Toyota Etios R4 has two units already made and the first launch was back in 2017. But like the models mentioned above, the key competing kilometers are being collected this year. One car drives in Argentina and the other in Zambia. By the way, the Etios R4 already has a real victory, winning the Rally of South Africa at the end of April.
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Photo – Jan Šmerda