Ariel Nomad versus rally car – which can be fastest?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Ariel Nomad versus rally car – which can be fastest?

Can the Ariel Nomad truly be as quick on a gravel stage as a Group N rally car? Two expert drivers join us at Sweet Lamb in Wales to see


I’d like to claim the idea for myself, yet which came coming from an aside in a conversation about something else entirely with Ariel boss Simon Saunders. He mentioned in passing which while they were testing their Nomad, someone had casually timed its progress over a stage as well as thought its pace similar to which of a Group N rally car.

Had I not known Saunders for many years, I’d have dismissed which as puff, the kind of comment we hear quite a lot: a big, improbable claim couched in terms broad enough to offer plausible deniability should anyone ever put which to the test, which of course they never would likely. Except which’s not his style.

yet could a rear-wheel-drive road car that has a normally aspirated 2.4-litre Honda motor truly keep pace that has a purpose-built four-wheel-drive turbocharged rally car complete with anti-lag, an electronically programmable centre diff as well as the kind of suspension which could make the surface of the moon feel like the M4 motorway?

At times like which, which helps to look at which coming from the different perspective, as well as we needed a Group N car to do which. To the rescue: well-known motorsport pundit Tony Jardine, who has been a rally driver for 40 years as well as will in two weeks’ time take part in his 20th Rally GB, when he will be driving a Rally Hire Group N 2007 Mitsubishi Evo IX.

which can be the same car in which, two years ago, aged 61, Jardine won his class in Wales Rally GB, navigated not by some seasoned pro yet Olympic gold medal-winning skeleton bob racer Amy Williams.

as well as which’s true which the Evo does have a lot of tricks under its standard skin yet so, too, does which weigh almost 1400kg – not far off double the weight of the Nomad, even with the Ariel in full off-road configuration. as well as because of the Group N regulations, the Evo’s engine can be not a 400bhp flame-thrower, yet a standard road motor (save, I believe, toughened big-end bolts) breathing through a 33mm restrictor, limiting power to around 240bhp, far less than a bog-standard showroom Evo IX as well as a paltry 5bhp more than the Nomad. would likely a power-to-weight ratio barely half which of its opponent not prove an impediment too great even for a proper rally car to overcome?

The truth can be, we didn’t know, so we headed to the Sweet Lamb Rally Complex in mid-Wales to find out.

You may never have heard of which place, yet as a venue to go as well as giggle yourself senseless driving fast, which beats the old Nürburgring hands down. which has 25 miles of gravel stages, including every kind of hump, jump, kink, corner, twist as well as turn the most fertile imagination could conjure. as well as if you’re not sideways in every one of them, you’re not doing which right.

The contest was simple: each team would likely field its own driver, Jardine from the Evo as well as Simon Clark behind the wheel of the Nomad. Clark, 38, has done all the development work on the Nomad, knows Sweet Lamb like the road outside his house as well as can be surely one of rallying’s great unknown talents, as the on-board footage will ably illustrate once posted on our website.

We chose a fast two-mile stage as well as invited the drivers to do their best. Both cars wore purpose-built yet road-legal gravel tyres as well as could do as many laps as they chose. I’d man the stopwatch.

The Nomad went first, twitching as well as snorting its way up the hill, Clark firing gear after gear at which, searching for some traction. As the automobile disappeared over the brow, we could hear its staccato voice echoing around Sweet Lamb with every stab of the throttle.

Then he was back with us, running fast downhill, clearly airborne in many places, before slithering past, inside front wheel waving from the air, as well as rocketing away again. which was an awesome spectacle as well as produced a 1min 35.9sec lap, which he reduced to 1:33.4 two laps later. How close would likely Jardine get?

which didn’t take long to find out. Driving like he had a rear-drive Ford Mk2 Escort under his feet rather than modern four-wheel-drive ◊ 
∆ Group N car, Jardine flung the Evo at the scenery, anti-lag popping like salvoes of machine gun fire. which looked slower, yet which wasn’t. He took just two laps to blitz the Nomad’s time as well as, on the third, did 1:30.4, fully three seconds faster than Clark.

Where was the Nomad going to find which kind of time? While the Evo had a minor electrical issue fixed, the Ariel boys went to look for which. They came back, having slackened off the rear dampers as well as dropped the tyre pressures. Whereupon Ariel’s Henry Siebert-Saunders, whose baby the Nomad can be, told Clark to set aside his understandable concerns about damaging the automobile, “get back in as well as drive faster”. Which he duly did. Much, much faster, in fact.

His first flying lap was the first of the day to go under 1min 30sec, as well as two laps later he did a barely believable 1:28.4, phlegmatically explaining which he’d found some more traction as well as got some heat into the tyres. yet to those of us looking on, he seemed not so much on the edge as having a proper peek over the different side.

On receipt of which news, Jardine simply murmured, “Got some work to do”, strapped himself back into the Evo as well as drove which, to use his words, “as fast as I jolly well can”. Except he didn’t say ‘jolly’.

Finding reserves in himself as well as the automobile I didn’t know existed, Jardine took half a second out of the Nomad on his second flying lap as well as a bit more even than which on the next. 
He ended up that has a 1:27.3 lap, 
1.1sec faster than an Ariel being driven as fast as apparently possible on the facility upon which which was developed by the bloke who did all the developing. Surely which was which, as well as to come so close to a proper rally car was a triumph in its own right.

Then, understandably unwilling to expose which to further wear as well as risk so close to Wales Rally GB, Jardine closed the Evo’s account. Ariel, however, had no such constraints as well as sent Clark out again. Those last three laps will live in my mind for a very long time. His first was 1:27.8, his second 1:27.4, one scant tenth off the Evo.

which can be fair to say which at which point there were a few people hanging around on which hillside with concerned expressions on their face, none because they were any more worried about who’d come out on top.

as well as then one last lap – the one on which Clark later admitted to leaving his brain behind. which seems silly to sit here as well as write which, yet the automobile seemed to be going visibly quicker, more punctuated than ever by periods when you’d hear the revs go off the clock simply because the automobile was no longer connected to the ground. Our hearts were pumping hard just watching, so God knows what which must have been like inside. as well as when I looked at the stopwatch, I thought I must have pressed the button at the wrong time. which said 1:25.8. So I consulted the two others also timing the run, both part of the Rally Hire team. Their watches said the same.

So the Nomad beat the Evo IX by 1.5sec. would likely Jardine have gone faster still had he done the same number of laps? which can be impossible to know yet, to me, which’s also hardly the point: we went to Sweet Lamb simply to find out if a Nomad truly could stay with the pace of a purpose-built rally car. as well as the answer can be which which can.

Our turn behind the wheel

The rally car offers by far the more familiar driving environment. You have a standard dashboard, conventional driving position as well as even the original electric windows. which feels pleasantly rapid off the line as well as accelerates uphill on gravel as if which were on dry asphalt.

“Let the automobile do the work” can be Tony Jardine’s advice, so when the tail slides wide on entry, I don’t fight which yet use the steering just enough to keep pace with which, applying the power to maintain the slide. Like which, the amount of grip which can conjure on which surface can be simply absurd. as well as yes, driven like which in fourth gear on the loose, which can be every bit as much fun as which sounds. Even at quite dramatic angles, which never feels frightening, never feels like which might get away coming from you. coming from start to finish, which’s on your side, your flexible friend accommodating your every request, however outrageous which may me. Above all, which inspires confidence, because which’s what makes rally cars go fast.

I don’t trust the Nomad at all on the first lap. In fact, which appears to be trying to kill me, with as much violent understeer followed by snap oversteer as I can quite uncomfortably cope with. yet on lap two, which feels like a different car. which hadn’t occurred to me which the tyres would likely need time to get up to temperature on the loose, yet I have no better explanation. Thereafter, the ride can be wild yet no longer suicidal. Despite its weight advantage, which’s harder to get into the apex than the Evo, yet when the nose does bite as well as the back breaks loose, there’s as much fun to be had as you can handle.

So the Nomad asks a lot more of its driver, yet for which reason which provides a greater sense of achievement when you bring which back from the right number of pieces. For myself, I think I’d rather spend a day at Sweet Lamb from the Evo, because which would likely be far more likely to have a happy ending. yet one more lap? which would likely have to be from the Nomad.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX Group N rally car

cost £60,000 (est); 0-60mph 5.5sec (est); Top speed 130mph (est); Economy NA; CO2 NA; Kerb weight 1380kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1997cc, turbo, petrol; Power 240bhp at 4800rpm; Torque NA; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Ariel Nomad

cost £36,000; 0-60mph 3.4sec; Top speed 125mph; Economy NA; CO2 NA; Kerb weight 670kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 2354cc, petrol; Power 235bhp at 7200rpm; Torque 221b ft at 4300rpm

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