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The Race of Champions, Bejing Pt1: The Machinery

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On: Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 5:14PM | By: John Welch

The Race of Champions, Bejing Pt1: The Machinery

The Race of Champions has signaled the end of the racing season for many years now. Predominantly held in Europe, the RoC pits the best race drivers from around the world against each other in identical cars, on a track that crosses itself, ensuring the same distance traveled by both competitors.


This year's RoC is being held at the "Bird's Nest" Stadium in Beijing China, last used for the 2008 Summer Olympics. In our first installment of RoC coverage, AutoShopper will review the various machines to be raced in the 2009 RoC.

All of the cars used in the RoC are tuned to be as close to identical as possible. There are a few differences between this year's cars and years past, but the old standbys are ever present. The interesting mix of buggies and race-prepped cars does not include the Fiat 500 Abarth this year, which is a shame. I would have enjoyed a preview of that beauty before it makes it to our shores.

Here for your perusal, are the 2009 RoC racing machines . . .

RX 150 Buggy: New to the RoC this year is the Rage Motorsport RX150. Built by Rage Motorsport (duh), a British company based in Bedfordshire, England, the RX150 is powered by a Honda CBR900 'Fireblade' engine. This motor is a four-stroke, 16 valves pumping vigorously in its head. It measures in at 954 cc, and makes a stout 150 bhp. The transmission is a Quaife six-speed sequential job, and it is mounted directly behind the driver. With a short wheelbase and stiff double wishbone suspension, this will be an interesting vehicle to watch. I'm interested to see if it is capable of the lurid power-slides the rally drivers have demonstrated around previous RoC courses.

RoC Buggy: Designed solely for the RoC, the RoC Buggy (say 'Rock-Buggie') is one closely guarded piece of machinery. Details on this little beast are iffy at best, but here is what we know for sure. The car is powered by a motorcycle engine of indeterminate origin, making 170 bhp. Combine that with the RoCB's extremely light weight, and you see sixty from a standstill in 3.8 seconds. The transmission is sequential, though like the engine, finding info on its manufacture and other specifics is difficult. This buggy has been the one constant in the RoC; even the rally cars have gone from Citroens to Renaults to the Ford Focus. This car creates very tight racing, some of the most exciting moments from RoC's past playing out behind the wheel of an RoC Buggy.

Volkswagen Scirocco: A handsome little devil, the Scirocco is being used in the RoC for the first time. These are bone-stock cars, making 200 bhp from their 2.0 liter turbo-charged four cylinders. It's a shame VW doesn't think Americans will buy these things in any numbers; it is basically the same car as a GTi, but with a better drag coefficient. Did I mention it's a handsome little car? Now I have twice.

KTM-Xbow: Another car making things difficult for Michael Schumacher (he is contractually obligated to pilot only cars hailing from the Fiat brand, not many of which are represented here), the KTM X-bow (say 'CrossBoh') has been making waves since its introduction last year. Thrust is provided by a VW/Audi Group 2.0 liter, up 40 bhp on the nearly identical engine powering the Scirocco. This car books, and according to every report is an absolute blast to drive. Looking like a refugee from 'Tron', the X-bow should deliver some entertaining racing.

Ford Focus RS Rally-Spec: An old stalwart of the RoC, the 'rally' car selected for this year's race is the 2008 vintage Focus RS Rally Spec (seeing as 'RS' stands for 'Rally-Spec', this seems like some seriously redundant naming). Churning up 300 race-bred bhp, the Focus is a crowd favorite. In years past, the RoC has been accused of using the rally car too much, giving rally drivers an unfair advantage. This doesn't bother me, as the RoC has always been billed as a predominantly 'rally' event. This is the first year that 100% of the course is tarmac, a sign that the RoC is listening to these complaints? No matter what, there will always be a proper rally car used in the RoC, and the Ford is one of the best.

Opel Solution F Prototype Racer: And now we come to the big boy. Looking very much like an Opel Astra (or Saturn/Vauxhall/Holden Astra if you're so inclined), the Solution F is anything but! As a matter of fact it may not even be an Opel at all. After exhaustive research that took me across several French websites I've come to a conclusion; bear with me: The Solution F Opel Astra started life as a Renault Megane Cup car, a purpose-built racer for a now-defunct one-make series. I'm 98% sure this is the case; every bit of info I can find points right back to the Megane. Engine specs, then, will read like a Nissan Z-car-phile's torrid wet dream. A 3.5 liter Renault/Nissan (re: VQ+ French engine management) making right at 310 bhp is to be expected. This is one of the most sonorous engines on the planet, as anyone who has witnessed an uncorked Clio Sport in person can attest. These cars will look great on the RoC tarmac, and should provide some awesome racing when under the command of drivers like Tanner Foust, Travis Pastrana, Mikko Hirovennen, and Michael Schumacher.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



RoadKill | 8:51AM (Thu, Nov 5, 2009)

The RX 150 looks like the old honda odyssey on steroids, I'd love to give one a workout...


RoadKill | 4:46PM (Fri, Nov 6, 2009)

Love to see a story on them with some photos...Thanks

  • RoadKill

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