SX4 team happy with progress
Two second-place finishes in its debut season have placed the Shell V-Power/Automotive Art/Simpson Motors Suzuki SX4 WRC in a good position to reach the pinnacle of motorsport in Barbados and the Caribbean.
In the hands of Sean Gill and co-driver Michael “Zippy” Cummins, the Suzuki SX4 WRC opened its account with a second place overall at last year’s Rally Jamaica and a similar placing in Rally Trinidad earlier this year.
The pair finished third overall in the recently-contested Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) Summer Nights Tarmac Stages Rally.
“We’re feeling very positive about our performance,” an upbeat Gill said after the Summer Nights event.
“The car worked fantastic, even with the challenges presented, but there is much more to come, and we can’t wait for the next event.”
The Simpson Motors Rally Team is preparing for the Sun and Stars Rally next month where they aim to build on the results achieved to date, and continue the legacy of success established by the Suzuki Ignis and the Suzuki Swift over the past 25 years in rallying in Barbados and the region.
“Development plans for the car are definitely on course, as the team works diligently to ensure that the machine is up to peak performance for Gill and Cummins,” said Simon Willis, an engineer on the Simpson Motors Rally Team.
He said the Suzuki J20 engine was sent back to Britain to be refreshed and dyno tested at HKS Europe following the overheating damage sustained on the first day of Sol Rally Barbados 2011 when the water pump belt was damaged by debris at the ingress into the engine bay.
The engineer said the team worked with MML Sports to address the brake pedal inconsistency that Gill had experienced during the Sol Rally Barbados this year and previous rallies.
He added that they had also been scouring the chassis and engine data from that event and continuously working with Gill to develop his driving style to suit the 4WD turbocharged WRC car to fully utilise its massive brakes, 4WD cornering capability and huge engine torque.
Additionally, Willis said, they had carried out a pre-rally test at Vaucluse Raceway, where Gill instantly felt the benefit of the brake work and tried some different driving techniques.
“Although we have not finished in first position as yet, we have proven that Gill and the Simpson Motors-developed SX4 WRC can keenly compete with some of the more established driver and car pairings, such as Roger “The Sheriff” Skeete and his Prodrive Subaru S12B WRC, and Paul “The Surfer” Bourne and his M Sport 2008 Ford Focus WRC, he noted.
The engineer said the team had always considered this year as a development year for both car and driver, and to be on the pace on tarmac was exactly where they had targeted being at this point in the season.