Along with Jaguar’s new F-Type ‘Chequered Flag’ limited edition run, Jaguar has also been busy turning 2 of their F-Types into rally cars and THEGAYUK were fortunate enough to be invited to have a play with the road going cars and trying this special build rally car.
The F-Type isn’t really a suitable rally car, and why have Jaguar done this?
Firstly it’s all about putting some fun into the celebration of 70 years of sports cars at Jaguar that all started in 1948 with the XK120. The XK120 spawned a number of victorious wins and being an open-top racer, it answers the second question. And that is, why the hell not! It’s a nice homage to the open top winners.
So what has been done to the road going sportster to make it a rally car? A number of things had been changed or altered and all in accordance with FIA approval. Instead of the usual 19” alloys, 16” rims with a more rugged 205/55 16 gravel tyre are fitted. 2” suspension lift with 60N/mm Eibach springs and three-way adjustable competition dampers.
Usual things have been added like a 5mm aluminium belly pan, hydraulic handbrake and the removal of luxury items. No side windows, no roof, no fancy door trims. Instead, the inside it plain, basic and filled with an FIA approved roll cage and full 6 point harness. Weight wise, the removal of such items has been matched by the race-spec items added so it’s pretty much the same as a road going car.
So what is it like to drive?
As you can imagine, it’s an open car so you are very much at one with your surroundings in as much as mud gets kicked around and that mud gets you and the interior. There is most certainly no need to wear your Sunday best for this Jaguar. Just climbing in leaves you covered in mud.
Engine and transmission are the same 300PS at 5500rpm delivering 295Ib.ft of torque from 1500rpm 2 litre Ingenium power unit mated to the standard automatic gearbox. The only difference is the final drive has been adjusted for a better 0-60 time and putting down the power to the limited slip differential at the back. You never get to top speed, but top speed isn’t what this F-Type is about.
No, indeed it is not. It is about swinging it around the dirt and going sideways. Thankfully we were not driving solo. Instead, we had 2 rally experts with us. Finland’s 9 times winning rally driver, Minna Sillankorva as co-pilot, offering advice (she taught me the perfect handbrake turn) and the UK’s own Jade Paveley in the pits.
This was the first rallying I have ever tried and to be honest, it isn’t as easy at it looks. I also wasn’t going hell for leather but instead, as Jaguar had said, I had fun in celebrating this 70th year with Jaguar.
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