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2023-06-14 19:07:34

How Compact Cars Can Jump Football Fields In Rally Races

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This is the longest jump ever made in the world rally championship 278 ft .

That's nearly the length of a football field .

That massive jump was done by this car .

A Citron C four , a simple European compact car known for its safety and reliability .

But how do you send an average economy car into orbit and safely back down again ?

You transform everything that makes it an average car .

The first important difference between rally cars and road cars is a more aerodynamic design that makes flying through the air a whole lot easier and safer .

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Let's compare a rally car like Hyundai's I 20 WRC model and the automaker's I 20 compact car that it's based on besides both being built on the same steel shell , one screw race car while the other screams new parents .

But those eye catching editions aren't just for show once the I 20 takes flight .

Its aerodynamic editions , make sure it comes back down as soon as possible .

And on its wheels , this requires creating down force the downward vertical force on a car that keeps it glued to the ground in a sport like Indycar racing that takes place on a smooth flat tarmac , creating downward force is important for simply giving racers more grip in tight corners .

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But in rallying where there's constant elevation changes on loose gravel and snow down force keeps cars from flying off the track to generate down force .

Rally cars like Hyundai's I 20 W R C are fitted with sloped carbon fiber wings throughout the body .

While most obvious is the six ft long one in the back .

There are also small wings positioned over the wheels .

These are known as dive planes , although they may be a different size and shape , their function is the same as the car drives forward at high speed .

It has to cut through air .

High pressure , air forced under the car creates an upward force on the vehicle known as lift .

The wings counteract this lift with down force , incoming air forced over the car is slowed down and pushed upward by the wings .

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The equal and opposite reaction is slower moving high pressure air now pushing the car downward .

This the down force needed to keep the car properly balanced .

This down force is especially useful for jumps in a rally car that constantly finds itself in the air .

Having plenty of down force to stay level and coming straight back down on all four wheels is especially important .

Just ask driver Peter Solberg who lost his rear wing in the 2005 rally Finland .

But even if you can send a car flying into the air level and straight down on all four wheels , it means nothing .

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If that car doesn't have a suspension that can handle the landing , that's why the suspension that ends up on a WRC rally car looks nothing like what you'll find on your typical road car , especially the dampers on a regular road car every time your car bounces over a rough surface or hits a nasty bump .

The intense energy and vibrations on your wheels are absorbed by a large coil spring .

But while those springs are great at absorbing energy , they need something in the way to keep them from bouncing back , uncontrollable like a trampoline .

That's where dampers come in positioned inside the spring .

They're made up of a long telescopic body with a piston and oil inside as the spring compresses during a heavy bump .

So does the damper and that piston slides down through the oil as the spring bounces back .

The damper is what keeps it under control .

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The oil slows down the piston's return and converts that energy into heat on a road car .

The goal of the suspension and dampers is to keep the ride as smooth and comfortable as possible .

Ideally , so you barely notice those bumps at all .

But on a WRC rally car comfort is the engineer's last concern .

There's no question .

There are bumps and bangs coming .

You've got 1.2 tons of metal crashing down heights of over three yards .

The goal is for the car to survive and keep going as fast as possible .

This calls for dampers twice as big and strong so they can handle more intense compression .

They're built thick , heavy and tuned with the intention of absorbing an enormous impact , not making sure the passengers are cozy .

A motor sport like rallying also requires an additional canister connected to the damper .

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In an especially active damper .

Oil , temperatures are reaching up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit .

This can cause your shock absorbers to overheat which leads them to compressing irregularly and the driver losing control of the vehicle .

An additional canister or remote reservoir allows you to carry more oil .

Have a place where it can cool down the most crucial feature .

Rally car dampers have though is how adjustable they are with knobs found on both the dampers and throughout the car , everything from ride height to compression speed can be adjusted for rally courses that feature more jumps .

Drivers need a car that's both higher off the ground with a suspension that they can count on bouncing back immediately .

But even if your car has the aerodynamics to soar through the air smoothly and a suspension that can handle the landing , it's going to mean nothing if your car's undercarriage isn't protected properly .

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The undercarriage has many exposed components like fuel lines that are easily penetrable by sharp rocks and race debris .

So the I 20 WRC is fitted with quarter inch thick steel plates bolted to the underside of the car known as skid plates or sump guards .

Their main objective is to protect the oil pan transmission and fuel tank from loose stones and debris skid plates help drivers against a number of major car problems .

The most dangerous being fuel and oil leaks .

While these two issues usually just result in engine failure , they have also caused a number of major fires in the W R C escape's unsolved car fire at Marches rally , Mexico is believed to have been caused by an oil leak skid plates drastically improve your chances of avoiding them .

Still , the skid plate alone can't protect you from everything .

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Just ask driver Elvin Evans who landed on nothing but his skid plate at last year's rally , Estonia and suffered two compression fractures no matter how prepared you may be .

Some rally car disasters are just unavoidable .

So while cars only take to the air in NASCAR and formula one , after something has already gone wrong in the world rally championship , it's a major part of the competition between being equipped with an aerodynamic body , heavy duty suspension and a steel plated undercarriage jumping nearly the length of a football field is something these incredible vehicles can handle day to day while they may be based on compact cars that can barely handle a pothole .

The right kind of engineering can transform them from family vehicles into high flying tanks


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