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Old 03-04-2006   #1
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Post Super 2000 grande Punto debuts!

Super 2000 Fiat a match for Group N cars


The Fiat Grande Punto has made crushing debut in motorsport, with the Super2000 variant of Fiat’s new small car dominating the weekend’s (18-19 March 2006) round of the Italian Rally Championship in the hands of Paolo Andreucci and Anna Andreussi, clearly demonstrating not just the potential of the new Fiat, but also the excitement and thrills that are set to be provided by rally’s newest competitor class.

In front of thousands of spectators on the Rally del Ciocco the Fiat Grande Punto set a string of fastest stage times on day one, leaving Paolo Andreucci and Anna Andreussi with the task on day two of simply bringing the Super2000 car home safely through the final four timed tests. They did this with relative ease, setting a second, third and two sixth fastest times, to retain his half-minute cushion and finish with a 34.6 advantage over Gianfranco Cunico in his Mitsubishi EVO XI.

Fiat team mate Andrea Navarra this morning climbed up the rally leaderboard from his overnight 7th place, to finish 5th overall this afternoon, 53.4 seconds adrift of the rally winner. After a very solid day's performance yesterday, Navarra posted the fastest time on this morning's opening stage (SS11), was second quickest on (SS13), and third best on the final stage (SS14).

Italians rally fans turned out in their thousands today and yesterday to see the birth of a new era of rally cars, the 'low-cost' Super2000 machines, with their normally aspirated 275bhp 2.0-litre engines, limited electronics, and mandatory four-wheel-drive transmissions supplied by an FIA-officially designated company, and development budget of 150,000 euros. How would the brand-new N.Technology-developed Grande Punto Abarth Rally contender compare to the latest-generation of GpN machines from Subaru and Mitsubishi, with more than 300 bhp, was the question on everyone's lips before the event - round one of the 2006 Italian Rally Championship - kicked off this weekend?

By the end of Saturday, after Andreucci had torn up the stages of Ciocco, there were no doubts remaining: these cars were pretty quick and could hold their own in the GpN/4 class where they had been homologated by the FIA.

The two new Fiat rally cars do lack the huge dollops of torque required to really spin the big WRC tyres they are shod with, and this lack of top-end torque was also noticeable as the cars were slightly slower on Friday evening's spectator super-special stage as well as on Saturday's two TV stages, as these three tests were laid out on the Ciocco hill and they were completely uphill with very sharp sloped straight lines, characteristics that allowed the superior torque of Subaru Impreza STi and Mitsubishi Evo IX cars to make a difference.

On the rest of the rally's stages though, where a light weight and superior handling capability were at a premium, the unfolding events showed that the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Rally and the basic idea of Super2000 looks to be a pretty solid one. The N.Technology-developed Fiats appeared to have been very well sorted and to be highly agile packages, with their suspension and handling set-ups seeming to be almost on a par with the bigger, more dramatic WRC machines.

Andreucci's vast knowledge and 'ownership' of the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth Rally project, as well as his long experience of top-level Italian rallying, made a real difference too, and while he stole the show at the front of the event, his team-mate Andrea Navarra turned in a very respectable mid top ten performance. After his engine failure in pre-event testing last weekend there was much speculation on the stages that Navarra was running a slightly 'detuned' engine, around 7-10bhp down on the lead car, to allow him to get used to his new mount - his objective for the event - and to complete the rally without any problems intervening.
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Old 03-04-2006   #2
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Re: Super 2000 grande Punto debuts!

Quote Originally Posted by J333EVO
...normally aspirated 275bhp 2.0-litre engines...
Sounds nice!
Shame Fiat aren't likely to do anything to sell more road cars based on this, like Peugeot never made anything out of their WRC championship wins.
We need more road cars that look like rally cars on the roads. (Except Imprezas as they've been done to death)
H
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