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This Is Irish Rallying 2016

This Is Irish Rallying 2016


Things happen in Ireland happen every day of the week that we never hear of. Events slip by without a single sliver of coverage, yet enjoyed immensely by those involved. It’s an Irish thing, and any bit of driving around the country you’ll find plenty of signs and posters for a plethora of oddball gatherings. But how is it that there are events going on nearly every weekend, all over the Island, attracting thousands of enthusiastic followers and competitors willing to rack up huge costs in expensive cars solely in search of excitement, yet most have never heard of it?? Welcome to Irish Rallying!

The year, for me at least, kicked off in Galway in mid-February. The traditional season opener for the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship (ITRC), the country’s premier series, Galway is renowned for being the first sighting moment for all manner of new cars and crews. This year was different!! Not only did we see the start of a new season, but also the start of a new Era in Irish Rallying. Over the winter, Motorsport Ireland had decreed that 2016 would see the rise of the R5, the chosen top line category for the championship moving forward.

 

Until now, WRC’s had ruled the roost in Irish rallying for the past 15 years. Looking back over previous title winners, the roll call of Subaru Impreza’s and Ford Focus WRC’s victories was stunning, but it was becoming too much. Expensive to run, both the older 2L cars and more modern 1.6L equivalents, and scarcer at big events, the powers that be decreed that the latest R5 spec cars were to become the shining beacons.

 

An R5 car is, in all regards, a very serious piece of kit. Based on road cars, rules stipulate a 1.6 Turbo Charged engine pushing upwards of 280BHP, Four Wheel Drive, massively uprated suspension and much more. The difference, when parked next to a WRC car, is not inherently noticeable, but it’s the part sourcing, and cost saving where the true difference lies. Rather than having a car packed full of very expensive, very bespoke parts, R5’s use a lot more off the shelf components and as such running costs are lowered. But would the gamble work?? Absolutely. For the first time in years, we saw a true battle for the title across nearly a dozen top drivers, which ultimately went down to the final round. Added to that, it was brand new cars out there pushing hard on the stages such as Ford Fiesta’s, Citroen DS3’s and a few Skoda Fabia R5’s.

 

But back to Galway. I still feel wet thinking back to that weekend. Saturday was like a battle scene. Car after car wheeled off on the back of trailers each in a worse state of destruction. We had leaders in ditches, hard chargers ending up on their roof and all manner of slipping and sliding in between.

And then Sunday brought the deluge. I don’t remember ever being out in such conditions. Access roads began to flood, yet the rally went on regardless. And who better to send out in such awful conditions then the Juniors. A separate section on nearly every rally, and something I’ll be looking into more deeply soon, the Juniors is a shortened rally designed to get younger competitors involved in the sport. Cars are capped at 1.6L, driver’s age at 26, and basically, everything else goes. It has slowly become a parade of fast charging Honda Civics of late, although we’ve seen some noticeable exceptions.

Next up was the traditional Paddy’s Weekend trip to Clonakilty for the West Cork Rally. Ever a crowd favorite, and a recent addition to the Tarmac championship, the West Cork is just a string of some of the most iconic stages and locations in Irish rallying. Ring Village, Ballinglanna, Ardfield etc. While the World Cars may have been excluded from scoring points in the championship, it didn’t stop their owners from competing. For a record breaking third time in-a-row, it would be Donagh Kelly tasting champagne aboard the Double Decker bus in Clonakilty come Sunday evening.

Over in the National Championship, though, the WRC car still reigned supreme. A series of one day, smaller events, the National championship has blossomed of late with massive entry lists and fantastic stages. One of those mounting a serious early charge on the National was the ever flamboyant Gary Jennings in his distinctive Subaru Impreza S12 WRC.

By the time May came about, Killarney was awash with the sunshine, and my clothes and camera were peppered with dust and stones. Rally of The Lakes is a name that resonates across car scenes, and although perhaps we don’t all trudge South solely for the rally, it’s hard to match the buzz around the town for the weekend.

For those standing out though, there’s always a certain vehicle that both creates smiles and scratches heads almost everywhere you go. The Ford Escort MK2. Once a venerable grocery getter designed by Ford as an everyday car in the 1970’s, the Escort has become a staple of the rally scene, none more so than here in Ireland. One of more extravagant exponents of the sideways style adored by fans is Liam Howlett. You don’t get a Hitler Subtitle video or a song dedicated to you by being quiet behind the wheel. This year would see Liam never mind finish the Lakes (there were commemorative t-shirts to mark this fact) but steer Big Red to third overall in the Modified section. He promptly returned to form and crashed soon after, and again, and again!!

But Killarney had been a lot damper only a few weeks previously when we old school rally geeks got an Easter treat. I’ve grown up fascinated by tales of the Circuit of Ireland. A distantly related event bearing the same name ran as part of the ’16 ITRC, but it was the true ‘Circuit’ from the 70’s and 80’s that has me up at all hours watching grainy videos on YouTube. Back then, the circuit was not merely a title but a description. The event ran for 5 days, often with little rest, and saw crews tackle stages right around the country. And it was massive!! International superstars became legends as they tackled Irish lanes. As a chance to look back at the glory days, Circuit déjà vu brought together a plethora of rallying’s legendary names and cars for one hell of a special day.

It’s not every day you stroll into a coffee shop in rural Kerry with a priceless Porsche Carrera sitting at the door. As you make your way in, you have to excuse yourself as you brush past Paul Nagle, Citroen Works Co-Driver for Kris Meeke, discussing the Monte Carlo Rally with none other than 1964 winner Paddy Hopkirk.

As you queue for a coffee, it’s becoming almost surreal as standing right in front is none other than 5-times British Rally champion, and father of the late Colin, Jimmy McRae.

And then to cap it off the only spare seat in the house is at a table with Billy Coleman who’s just given a display in sideways driving in his ’74 British Championship winning Escort up Molls Gap less than an hour beforehand. A man that could have taken on the world yet chose to farm instead.

Returning from Dreamland, and the events continued to roll by thick and fast. As the ITRC completed its northern loop of events, Donegal, The Circuit of Ireland & The Ulster, I was out closer to home. The Imokilly club in East Cork has grown enormously over the last while. Evolving from hosting a RallySprint in the Cork Mart a few years ago, they now play host to one of the more competitive Mini-Stages events in the country. A non-championship event, these rallies are a chance for the clubmen to really go out and enjoy their local stages without the pressure of the big guns at the head of the field. Its club man level events like this that provide the lifeblood to Irish rallying, and are a real proving ground for anyone with aspirations of moving up the ranks.

An added bonus for this event was their ability to attract two of possibly the country’s crowd favorites, Frank Kelly & Declan Gallagher, to give their co-driver seats up for charity to raise funds for a very worthy local charity. This certainly wasn’t just a fun run though as the Milkman (Gallagher) came home 2nd overall with rookie co-driver Shane O’Mahony.

The main championship came down to a final battle royal around the stages of Cork as 4 drivers came to the ’20 with hopes of walking away with the Tarmac crown. First to wilt was Alistair Fisher. Coming in as point’s leader, Fisher lost control on the last loop on Saturday seeing both his Fiesta and title ambitions turned upside down.

Another pair of contenders would be the Moffett brothers Sam & Josh. Each pushed right to the very last, aided by both sibling rivalry and determination to grab the title. Josh ended up taking the rally victory, but results elsewhere just didn’t fall right for his title charge. As a reward for his hard charging all year, Josh Moffett took home the Billy Coleman award for Young Rally Driver of the year.

But alas, it was the quiet man from Ballylickey that ended the year as Irish Tarmac Champion. Keith Cronin had a mixed year with some stunning championship victories peppered with crushing lows as the title lay in the balance. Seeing his main rival Fisher drop out on Saturday, the 3-Times BRC champion had the required cool head to get his DS3 R5 home safely and secure the tarmac crown.

With the two main titles secured, Roy White taking the National crown in his Fiesta WRC, the Donegal Harvest rally was a chance for the local RWD crews to have some fun. Although every rally sees its fair share of spectacular Modified action, its seems to be Monaghan and Donegal that really ramp this up to the last. The Modified’s are home to the wild side of Irish Rallying. Race engines push once humble every day cars to unbelievable speeds. Engine sizes are capped at a maximum of 25% larger than original, so the 2.5L Class 14 is the zenith. Builds regularly top €80,000, while every last inch of performance is squeezed out with all manner of upgrades allowed.

Twin Cam Corolla’s, normally associated with marking cross roads at events like Killarney or Donegal International, really have a warm place in Northern Rallying. I’m sure I lost count at about 9 or 10 of the Toyota coupe’s out talking the Harvest Stages, although it was the McGettigan brothers who were really on a charge all day, both on road and occasionally when taking flight.

The Harvest also gave me, in particular, the first glimpse of John Mullholland’s incredible 1.3L BDA engine Escort. When people call things a screamer, it can generally be debated. But an Escort coming down a country lane at nearly 10,000 rpm is something that still gives me a fizz.

The last event for me anyway in 2016 was actually the first event of 2017’s championship bizarrely. Aimed solely as Ireland’s only Historic rally, Killarney plays host in early December to a dazzling array of older rally cars. Split into two distinct parts, the first cars you get to enjoy are the true Historic spec cars, built to the same spec as in their heydays of the late 70’s, complete with screaming BDA’s.

The other side of the event is a chance for some of the country’s fastest Modified rally cars to really come out and play. The Modifieds is where you’ll find Escorts that in the right conditions could outrun World cars, Millington engines, cutting-edge technology all wrapped up in 30-year-old bodies. It’s truly glorious.

Add in the beauty of having Irelands only night stage and Killarney Historic is a special way to end the year. It’s an absolute nightmare to photograph, but by god its one hell of a cool sight to witness.

So that’s my little look back at the 2016 rallying year. The next 12 months has plenty instore and I’m looking forward to another year hanging off ditches and hopefully, I’ll give ye an insight into the mad world of Irish Rallying.

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Eric Calnan And The Giant Killing Peugeot 106

Eric Calnan And The Giant Killing Peugeot 106

Us Irish love a good underdog story. It’s in our nature that we just adore the thought of David sticking it to Goliath. Tales of heroics live long in the memory and are often recounted with a wistful smile and a stirring pump of a fist. A call of ‘Go on ya Boyo’ is never far away in these instances. Irish motorsport is a venerable treasure chest of people sticking it to the man. For years, Eddie Jordan took on the might of F1 paddock, and occasionally won. In 1974, a Cork farmer by the name of Billy Coleman beat the might of the works teams to become British Champion, in a car run from a rented terrace house and a band of friends as crew. Frank Meagher became a household name in the 80’s and 90’s as he topped lead boards in his ratty old MK2 Escort. Those were the glory days, but the have-a-go heroes are still out there,Eric Calnan is one of them heroes.

 

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106Junior rallying, as the title suggests, is an avenue designed to attract younger drivers into the sport. Conceived in the early 00’s, the idea was to limit the cars to 1.6L, driver age to 26 and provide a shorter route to keep costs down. And it has been a success. Countless drivers have come through the ranks and gone onto bigger things in the sport, while the competitive nature of the championship has seen some incredibly close battles down the years. But competitiveness comes at a cost. It’s a natural thing, winning becomes everything!

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

The loose nature of regulations left the door open for things to spiral. To remain competitive, builds and components became more expensive. The humble Honda Civic is the de-facto Junior Rally weapon of choice. We all see decent Civic track and road builds on a daily basis, but the rally boys are on another level. Trusty B16 engines are hitting dizzying VTEC assisted levels of 200+ BHP. Sequential gearboxes have become normal, as have fully adjustable suspension and all manner of trick bits. Builds topping €40000 are not uncommon. But surely nobody can compete with that??

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

The rise of Eric Calnan in 2016 was like a breath of fresh air in Junior rallying. Here was a tatty looking 106, built in a shed at home, with an outlandish spoiler coming to upset the status quo. Built for about a quarter of the price of some of its competitors, the 106 and Calnan really began to rattle some feathers. Fastest through Ballaghbeama at the Lakes was a warning shot, but things were only starting. Victory at Imokilly Mini Stages was backed up weeks later with a stunning last grasp snatch and grab at the Cork20 Junior Rally. 12 seconds down sitting on the start line of the final stage, the diminutive Peugeot scorched to a 1.6 sec victory. Internet flame wars erupted as people scratched their head at just how Eric pulled the time out that day. It was these sort of heroics that began grabbing attention. A dominating display on the Fastnet rally really cemented a fantastic season, taking a massive 26 second lead on the 1st stage and controlling the rally to chalk up yet another victory . A Billy Coleman Award nomination followed, while Motorsport.ie’s recently published list ranking 2016’s top Irish rally drivers ranked Calnan at No.6 among some very illustrious company.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

But what is it about this car and driver pair that make them so quick? Calnan naturally lays all the success on co-driver Aileen Kelly. Cousins, the pair only began sitting together his year and things have really paid off. Watching any on-board’s, Eric’s mad man nature is balanced by Aileen’s calm and steady delivery of the notes at all manner of kamikaze speeds. Rallying is very much a team sport, with the driver leaning massively on the Navi to describe the road ahead and keep on top of necessary paperwork and time cards, but having an all-out, maximum attack driving style and distinct lack of fear certainly is an added bonus. But every hero spec warrior needs a chariot.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Approaching the silver 106 GTI up close, the battered exterior is a sign of a car that’s had a tough campaign. It’s not a neglected car, but it just goes against the shiny, polished nature of those around it. Straight panels, or even wing mirrors in this case, make no difference when it comes to launching yourself down a rally stage. It almost seems like a ruse to put people off, perhaps guide them away from the potency that lies beneath. It’s perhaps a reflection of the man himself, that the desire to find that extra tenth is far greater than looking good on the start line. Small marks here and there act almost as war paint, carried as a warning to others. A scrape from a chicane here, and dent from a tire wall there, it’s all part of the appeal.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Under the bonnet is where things really get interesting. A Citroen JP4 engine sits proudly in the middle of the bay. Hand built by Calnan over the winter, his engineers touches are seen all over. Clever little tips and trick are seen in the desire to wring as much power from the 16 valve lump, from a redesigned head to a custom manifold. Anything non-essential has been removed in the quest to save weight, but it is the set of GSXR throttle bodies sitting nearly flush with the firewall that certainly grab attention. In typical Calnan fashion, checking even basic things like having room for a wiper motor were secondary to performance, but thankfully finding a LHD unit sorted that issue. Pumping out slightly more than 160 BHP, this is a very quick 106, yet it still gives roughly 40/50 BHP of an advantage to the opposition.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Power is delivered to the front wheels through a 5 speed box and limited slip differential, again built by Calnan in his shed. Bilstein suspension helps to deal with the rough and tumble of a bumpy rally stage, while the solid Torsion Bar rear end is helped greatly with Team Dynamic shock absorbers. Braking, if ever relied upon, is taken care of with Carbone Lorraine pads and Brembo disks front and rear. For true maximum attack, a Hydraulic handbrake is on hand and is clearly not there for show as becomes obvious watching Calnan flying around the Watergrasshill track.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Plastered both front and back is the battling cry #anythingbutacivic. An obvious tongue in cheek gesture towards the opposition, it’s a message that’s resonated around Irish rallying, and one spotted on a growing number of other cars. As with any sort of race car though, having other names plastered on the side of the car helps massively in getting a budget together to go out and compete. Colin Byrne (CB Tool Hire) and Donal O’Brien (Donalobriencars.ie) have backed Eric from the start, along with a number of other local business, and without support like that many would get nowhere in motorsport.  

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Inside is typical rally car, where function takes priority over form. A pair of beefy OMP seats keep the crew held in place snugly, while a custom weld in roll cage keeps safety in check. Everything here is dictated by FIA regulations to help protect the crew if anything was to ever go wrong.

Eric Calnan & The Giant Killing 106

Plans for 2017 are still undecided for Calnan and the 106. A crack at the Tarmac Junior Championship is a very real option, although it includes a couple of long treks up the country to Donegal and the Ulster rallies. The ’17 season see’s M-Sport launching its own entry level championship in Ireland, the R2 National, which is aimed as a first dip into the world of factory built International level machinery for those with aspirations of going down that avenue. A promising development for younger drivers, it unfortunately remains out of reach financially for a large number of drivers, Calnan included. Money and rallying will always go hand in hand, and to get anywhere you need a lot of it. But Eric Calnan is a reminder that the underdog is still alive, sticking two fingers up to the big boys and having a damn good time and enjoying rallying!

Full Spec List:

Engine:

Citroen TU5 JP4

1600cc 16v

P&P Head (Homemade)

K1 GSXR1000 Throttle Bodies

Custom inlet manifold ported to match head (Homemade)

Hayabusa/GSXR Injectors

RamAir air filter

106 Cup Car Cams

Custom Stainless Exhaust manifold (Homemade)

Pugsport 2” stainless exhaust

 

Gearbox:

Standard Peugeot MA Gearbox with uprated bearings.

Gripper LSD

S1 Rallye Final Drive

Custom Gearkit

Paddle Clutch

 

Suspension:

Front:

Bilstein B8 Shocks

AST Adjustable camber top mounts

Interchangeable spring rates/lengths

Rear:

Team Dynamic 2-way adjustable shocks

 

Brakes:

Front:

CL RC6+ pads and brembo discs

Rear:

CL RC5 pads and brembo max grooved discs

Hydraulic handbrake & Bias Valve

 

Chassis:

Full weld in cage with extra bars

Strut top strengthener plates & Strut brace

LHD Wiper conversion

Lightweight shell (prepped by Eric)

Walbro Intank High Pressure Fuel Pump

6mm aluminium sump guard (Homemade)

Seats/Harnesses/Extinguishers to comply with FIA international regs.

 

With Thanks to:

Jonathon Trill (TM Valeting),

Shane Fitzgerald (EVOSigns),

Denis O Connell (extremely patient man that helps Eric make good looking stuff).

Welcome Cian Donnellan To FreshFix

Welcome Cian Donnellan To FreshFix

My name is Cian Donnellan…………and I’m addicted to cars!! God that was a relief to get out there, but then again making that admission on a site like this is like saying there’s sand in the Sahara. I suffer from the most extreme of afflictions, namely petrol in the blood. Diagnosed since birth, the parents recall times when I was 2 or 3 years of age happily sitting on their laps during journeys (remember when that was safe and socially accepted!!) naming every car as they whizzed past. Right through primary school, ask me what I wanted to become and the answer was always to be Colin McRae.

S13 Nissan FreshFix

Having a parent from Donegal, rallying was always going to have a massive role in shaping my automotive passion. Growing up, every Christmas would see the WRC review annual land onto the kitchen table, while being allowed up late once a week for RPM on UTV was a rare treat. But it took ages for me to experience rallying in real life. In Cork City, the closest we got to the action was the Cork 20 Finish Ramp each year. My parents were busy at weekends, and besides they had better things to do than stand in a ditch.

Rally Ford FreshFix

Once I got my license, there was no stopping me. I’d wreck manager’s heads by constantly wheeling and dealing hours here and there to get Sunday free to drive the country to take in some action. For those that have never been out on the stages, it’s an experience unlike anything else imaginable. It’s a proper rural day out, chasing around backroads trying to decipher maps before the usual rigmarole of hopping fences and gates, but once you experience the buzz of a car at full chat barely meters from your face then you can only be convinced!!

Bmw Drifting FreshFix

As a natural progression from the stages, drifting emerged onto my radar in the mid-00’s, but then again it was people like Declan Munnelly in the green MK2 Escort that got me hooked. Here was the sideways action of the stages, nicely packaged into a compact format. Suddenly places like Rosegreen, Ennis and Mondello were added to the list of ‘Where’s Cian off to This Week’. Having been at Prodrift Europe in ’08 and been in amazement at the first ever 500+ BHP car on the island (Bon Bon’s Chaser), I’ve become less enthused about competitive drifting in recent years. The thought of a screaming 16v Corolla appeals more, but that’s just me being old skool. Perhaps 2017 is the year or me to fall back in love with pro drifting?

R8 Freshfix

As you may have copped, motorsport in general just does it for me. No matter what the level or the discipline, from bikes to trucks (go and watch them boys race in the flesh. Holy Moly!!) I’ll be interested. I’m also an absolute nerd for racing history, so may YouTube history at times is like a VHS collection of 90’s Touring Car Racing or 80’s Rallying. When I went to Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years back, at one point I stood with a Tyrrell F1 car on overrun in one ear and a BDA Escort in the other. I may have wept!

Vw FreshFix

The modified car scene that I’ve always been aware of from growing up in Cork. The roads were, at times during the good years, a venerable car spotters dream. As a Gran Turismo Era child, all manner of JDM monsters became visible, and among my group of friends we began messing about here and there working on our own cars. Although the show scene died out massively during the recession, events like VAGE become an annual staple of my calendar. Although I’d happily admit that I’m not the biggest fan, the build levels and details really sucked me into that world. Although I still doubt I’d ever have the patience to build a nice VAG car, I began to notice more and more each year. How do you cure this growing interest, era a year out of Ireland should do the trick? Where to go I asked? Ah Klagenfurt in Austria should do. Quiet, sleepy, picturesque, no discernible car scene……..bar for one month of the year, when it’s at the heart of Worthersee Treffen, the world’s biggest VAG show. I swore to the parents it was a coincidence, although study was abandoned for 3 weeks to go and sit in a petrol station. I’ll put together a lookback in a few weeks!!

E30 M3 Ford Seirra FreshFix

Going from being into cars to actually photographing cars was a complete fluke. I’d carried a small pocket camera to events the odd time for a few years, but had no real mass on the pics taken. Then in 2011, I went off one day with a month’s pay in my pocket to buy a gaming racing wheel. The shop was sold out, so I bought a Nikon DSLR instead, as you do. What an expensive mistake that was!! Since then, I took more and more interest in photographing cars, studying techniques, trying out things. I’d never even shot a car alone until last year my friend Maurice Malone from CompleteCar roped me into his new feature series.

Toyota FreshFix

So being into cars has to mean being into driving cars right?? I was 19 when I Ianded home with my own wheels for the first time. 2 lessons completed, full license in hand and a few bob saved, I went all out. Siting outside the house was a bit of a dream car of mine, an AE92 Toyota Corolla Gti. A fantastic car, but of course I’d never even once thought of insurance or that lark. Turns out, having something that includes the words Twincam, 16 Valve and GTi in the title isn’t the most insurance friendly when your 19!! After 4 months sitting in the shed, the time was night for my 4AGE dreams to begin, but I treated the car like a baby. I think I brought it to 4000 RPM once, I spent silly amounts of money on it over my 2 years ( Looking back, a €345 bill from Toyota just to replace Bolts, Washers, Clips and Hoses was a bit extreme) and ultimately ended up upside down in a ditch.

106 Rallie FreshFix

Between going abroad for a year and everything that entails, it was nearly 14 months before the next proper car arrived. The Puglet was found feeling sorry for itself down the very back of a dealer’s yard, covered in dirt and its paint flat as a pancake. Over the past 15 months it evolved bit by bit, pats coming from all manner of second hand sources. Bumpers from crashed rally cars, interior from crashed road cars. At the height of things, I was driving just shy of 450 miles a week in a 21 year old city car, with a straight through exhaust, hardened race suspension and sitting about 3 inches off the ground. I was almost thankful to be at work some days, but give it a back road and my face would light up. I grew bored (read: weary, dishevelled or defeated) of the daily grind in the Pug, so I’ve gone against my hard-core, old skool mentality and now waft around in the luxury of an E46 318CI. It’s just so nice, I don’t even want to do silly stuff to it.

I look forward to the new era of FreshFix and I hope you enjoy what I’ll be sharing on the site. Look forward to plenty of Rally action from around Ireland, grassroots drifting, various shows and the best of Munster’s modified cars. I have a few large events abroad that I’m planning to get to this year as well, so make sure to stay tuned for that. Here to 2017 and a new era of FreshFix. I

Marty has issues…..

Marty has issues…..

Hi, I’m Marty and I’m the founder and owner of Freshfix. It’s not unknown between my friends and family that I change my cars more than my boxers! Writing this post makes me realize that they may be right about that. Let’s go back to 2007 when I had just turned 17 and passed my driving test and it was time to buy my first car. I had spent years dreaming of my first car being a Jap import or something fast. I was lucky enough to have friends who were older than me and would own these very cars – I just wanted my own. Well, lets just say that didn’t really go to plan. To cut a long story short I was roped into buying a 2003 Ford Fiesta 1.4 TDCI….even typing this has sent shivers down my spine. 

Glanza Saxo FreshFix

Toyota Glanza

That car lasted 3 days, yes 3 days! I absolutely hated it and went straight to the bank and took out a €4,000 loan to go get a car I really wanted, or thought I wanted! A close friend was selling his Glanza non-turbo, but for me it was still €2,500 for insurance. You can see the only picture I have above, I loved the car, it was clean, loud and I felt like one of the LADZ, that was until one morning before school I used the remote start to warm it up before getting out of bed. A massive bang followed by the alarm going off which revealed the car was left in gear the night before and had crashed into the front of the house! I had to replace the bonnet and front bumper and got a massive bollocking off my folks! 

Marty has issuesAt a time when the scene was massive and if it wasn’t a SIR or Type R, well people just didn’t think it was cool or good enough. I always liked the Honda Ek Civic but sadly couldn’t afford a SIR or TYPE R and never mind the insurance. The closest I could get was the 1.5 engined EK3 – a fresh import too! This was the first car I spent a crazy about of money on changing it around and trying to get it up to the EK9 standard without actually changing the engine. I had it for about a year and a half and sold it on to a guy who eventually stuck the Type R heart into it. I came across it recently on the Honda Page on facebook before a track day only to be told it was written off on the way to the track day.

Pulsar Vzr FreshFixQue the sticker bomb era and yes I did go with it. I picked up my first car with VVTI. This was a fun car with the two stages but trying to feed this car the petrol it required was tough so it didn’t hang around too long.

Golf TDI FreshFix
One of my favorite cars to date was my Mk4 TDi which was remapped and produced roughly 300Ft-lbs of torque, it did everything I needed at the time and had the heated leather Recaro’s from the Anniversary model. I used to contact the guy I sold it to from time to time, asking to buy it back but he never would sell it! When I sold my Mk5 golf in 2016 the buyer actually owned this car and he still wouldn’t sell it!!

Mk2 Jetta Stance FreshFixThis is one of my spur of the moment ‘lets buy this’ cars. It was a 1.6D with a k24 turbo strapped onto it. It ran like a pig but was funny and just turned heads. Again I didn’t keep it for too long. Check out this video of it on the dyno! SMOKE AHOY!

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw6sjCrzQKE[/embedyt]

Ae86 Twincam Booter FreshFixMy first ever RWD car and the car which caused me to capture that dam track day virus! I bought this while in college for €5750 I think from Darren Mc Namara (Dmac) in Cork. it had no interior whatsoever and a roll cage and was in good need of some TLC in the engine bay and interior. The good thing about the Ae85 at the time was I could get it under classic insurance. We agreed to do the deal based on the fact it would go through the NCT. Months passed and I had finally got the text to say the car was ready for collection. I didn’t spend much on making it look pretty more just drove it and even learned how to do a few skids with the help of the Dealtwidth crew.

Audi A3 BBS Jom Coilovers FreshFixI used this car while in college along with the Ae86. This was the sensible car for roughly two years and brought me around Ireland meeting people while doing work for FreshFix. Nothing fancy at all with this car, a set of JOM coilovers and fake BBS wheels. This ended up getting stolen from the new owner only weeks after getting it from me.

Clio 197 Trackday FreshFixAt the point, I started working in the motor trade and had some spare cash built up. I would never have dreamed of owning a French car but this grabbed my attention and was extremely fun to drive. It has really short ratios and stuck to the road like glue. It was so much fun I went left out the gate to Mondello one morning instead of work and just called in sick. It was strange showing up to the track day in a suit and tie.

Clio 197 FreshFixI loved these so much I bought two! Well, one came up in the trade for very cheap so I couldn’t say no. I later sold both of them to recoup some cash as the Motorsport bug had bitten.

Evo 7 Trackday FreshFix
 Talk about drinking fuel! My Evo 7 was the first proper performance car. It was remapped to 350bhp and was mighty fun to slide around in the wet. I still see this around coming home from work.

Honda Integra Type R Bugeye FreshFixI saw this online for sale and called the insurance to see what the story was. I was able to get insured and bought it that day. The guy actually selling it worked in the same motor group as me funnily enough. This was a mega car and my first real bite at the V-Tec cherry, it ended up going to Spain in the end.

Fiesta Championship Mondello FreshFixI caught the Motorsport bug and found myself competing in the Mondello Park Fiesta championship in 2015, I bought this car ready to race and spent little or nothing on it all year. I would go on to learn the in’s and out’s of Motorsport pretty quickly but also take home the rookie championship. It was also the start of a serious Motorsport addiction!

mk5 Gti Golf FreshFixStill working in the motor trade at this point I needed something with power but also not drawing too much attention from the po-po. It was a nice car but too many things rattled and bugged me with it. Still, wouldn’t stop me owning one again. The guy who bought this off me owned my Mk4 still.

Micksgarage.com Future Classics KAST FreshFixIt was like going back in time with the Ek3. This time I built it from the ground up myself to compete in the Future Classic Racing Series. I had a good start to the season in 2016 but ended up with only doing 5 out of the 10 rounds. I sold this to the guys at Trackdays.ie and bought ……

 

ITCC Honda Civic Ek Race Car FreshFixYup, another civic but this time with a bit more bhp. This came up after my good friend David Cassidy was borrowing it to finish off his ITCC season. A lot went on with the car so to save me typing it all out you can visit the VLOG to see what went on. I still own this car.

Bmw 320D Stance Retro Estate FreshFixI traveled to Cork twice for this car, I also had IDC driver Mike Fitz check the car out for me before I made the trip down – goes to show how much people will go out of the way to help you – Thanks, Mike!  I first went down and agreed on a price, I was left standing at the petrol station with no response or anything from the seller after he had to go “home” for the logbook. Long story short a friend had to buy the car for me. I got a towbar fitted and this brings me and my race car everywhere, it’s also good to sleep two people, the perfect all-rounder in my eyes. I still own this car and decided that when it breaks down majorly I will change it….its just clocked 178k miles and still no signs of that going to happen.
Believe it or not, I left out a good few cars that were more of a run about than something I truly enjoyed….

See you next week doc for the next session?

Top 5 Cars of 2017 To Look Out For

Top 5 Cars of 2017 To Look Out For

There’s an absolute ton of new cars launching in 2017, the majority aren’t ones we’re even remotely interested in unfortunately but amongst the plethora of boring euroboxes and softroaders there are a handful that we can’t wait to see in the metal – or carbon as the case may be.

So let’s cut right to it – In no particular order:

Ford Focus RS500

If the current Focus RS is anything to go by the RS500 is set to be an absolute cracker. It certainly looks the part anyway. Power should be up from the RS’s 345bhp and weight should be down with a more stripped out interior. Production numbers will be extremely limited if past versions are anything to go onTop 5 Cars of 2017Top 5 Cars of 2017

Alpine

By summer 2017 the Alpine name will be back in Renault showrooms after a 20 year break. The Alpine will apparently feature a mid-mounted 4 pot turbo driving the rear wheels. It will have about 250bhp and weigh in at around 1100kg’s making it extremely light by modern standards. Competitors are likely to be the Porsche Cayman and the Alfa 4c, so it’ll need to be really good if it has any chance of success!

Top 5 Cars of 2017

DMACS1

This is a bit of a curveball as the vast majority won’t have a clue what this car is at all as it’s a one-off drift car being built by local man Darren Mcnamara. From what I can gather it’s kind of an homage to one of my favorite cars ever – the Audi S1 Sport Quattro which dominated rallying in the group B era.

Top 5 Cars of 2017

The Shell is a long wheel base ur Quattro which has been converted to rear wheel drive. It has a 2.7 litre, 5 cylinder turbo motor, 6 speed sequential box and loads of custom fabrication to make the thing work properly as a drift car. So the car should look and sound more or less like the old school rally cars and I for one can’t wait to see it finished!

Top 5 Cars of 2017

Toyota Supra / BMW Z5

Ok so this is possibly going to be the biggest let-down in terms of concept vs reality as the F1 concept Toyota released was simply spectacular. 

Top 5 Cars of 2017

However, the reality will still be a new front engined, rear drive sports car so whatever it ends up looking like we’re going to be pretty happy to be honest. The platform is being shared with BMW and the Z5 will replace the Z4.  The BMW version is rumored to be a drop-top and the Toyota a hard top coupe body style. You’d have to expect a straight 6 to be on the cards as well with the BMW tie up.

F1 2017

Another car you can’t buy but F1 in 2017 has finally taken a step in the right direction, in terms of visual appearance if nothing else. Year after year F1 cars have got uglier and uglier due to regulation changes that only consider function over form. To be honest they still don’t look great but the new fat rear tyres and wide, low rear wings are a huge improvement. Now if they can just make the racing exciting enough so that I can stay awake through a full race we’ll be laughing!

Top 5 Cars of 2017

Feature : The Kouki Monster Nissan S14

Feature : The Kouki Monster Nissan S14

It’s a cold Sunday afternoon in December, I’m three hours from home, incredibly hungover and standing in the middle of an abandoned Industrial Estate. I say estate, but this is nothing more than a road to nowhere – All in all a fairly a fairly depressing scenario! But then I hear a familiar rumble in the distance. The unmistakable sound of an SR20DET which would warm any petrolheads heart  – All of a sudden the  mood lifts as the Nissan S14 comes towards us! 

 

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFixWhen the global phenomena that is Drifting hit Ireland in the early noughties, the initial thought was that the ideal weapon of choice would be the E30 BMW or the Ford Sierra, and that’s exactly what ruled Rosegreen. But then, as if through a grand awakening, the Irish discovered Japanese goodies like a caveman finding Fire. With the Celtic Tiger in full swing, JDM metal became ten a penny on our roads. But in hindsight, now that we’ve come through a veritable famine of nice cars, it’s right now that we’re really starting to see the cream of the crop when it comes to Irish builds. In this case, it’s Andy Harkin of Zero7Four who masterminded this build originally before passing it onto its current owner.

 

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFix

Finished in Gloss Black, this Kouki S14 Silvia just screams for attention but in a very stealthy fashion. Quickly walking around the car, there’s soo many touches here and there that require a second or third inspection before you notice them. The widened hips, here a set of 50mm overfenders, seem almost natural, only given away by the recessed petrol cap.

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFixThe bodywork is polished to the last and the distinct shimmer comes through the paintwork all over including the aggressive Vertex body kit, encompassing the front and rear bumpers mated with a pair of Bomex skirts to give an incredibly sharp look. Vented wings upfront add to the widened style, while rolled arches help to accommodate the wheels. A DMax roof spoiler and Kouki spoiler really add to the overall look

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFixThe wheels are 18 Inch 5Zeigen RS1’s, 10J all round, and they really fill the arches with ease. Hidden behind the bronze alloys lie a set of golden Brembo brakes, the fronts coming from a 350Z, while the rears remain Silvia standard issue.

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFixStep inside and it’s a feast of JDM goodies, although the hydraulic handbrake immediately grabs your attention. Elsewhere, a Blitz turbo timer sits neatly on the side of the centre console, while Apexi dials adorn both the dash and pillar. As a bit of a Jap nerd, I’m utterly fascinated by the wonderful checkerboard mats. The driver is well looked after with a deep dish OMP steering wheel and the pair of Recaro Confetti SR2’s make this quite a nice place for a drive.

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFixUnder the bonnet is where the fun and games really start. Although visibly underwhelming, it’s almost used as a distraction to steer you away from the list of mods that runs nearly the length of my arm. Sitting at the heart is the venerable Black-Top SR20. Forced induction is taken care of through a Garrett T28 turbocharger, mated to a menacing front mount Intercooler poking through the front bumper. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an Exedy clutch and lightened ACT flywheel, while a Horeshams Stage 2 Tune keeps everything happy and suitable for day to day driving.

Kouki S14 Nissan FreshFix

That distinctive rumble, the almost quintessential sound of the emergence in the early 00’s of Drifting and JDM culture, is broadcast for all to hear through a stainless 4 branch manifold running into a stainless HKS HI Power exhaust system.

On the move, the Apexi Coilovers, which help give the Silvia its distinctive aggressive stance, really come into their own. Riding almost flat, the Koukimonster glides effortlessly around our location, although the smooth ride is definitely noted buy its relaxed owner, something generally at odds with the perceived backbreaking nature of something running this low.

Kouki Nissan S14 FreshFixAll in all, this car just screams ‘Look At Me’, but exudes a sense of ‘I’d take you mate’. Its that threatening beauty that makes this such a special Silvia. As the turbo spools up and it heads for home, all I can do is smile. That was one hell of a cool Nissan S14!

Full Spec List

Engine

  • Sr20det
  • Front mount Intercooler
  • Alloy rad
  • K&N Cone filter
  • GTR Fuel Pump
  • S15 T28 Ball Bearing Turbo
  • 4 branch tubular manifold
  • Horshams dev stage 2
  • Exedy 3 puk clutch
  • Lightweight ACT Flywheel
  • Stainless turbo elbow and downpipe & decat
  • HKS HI Power silent exhaust
  • Kazz 2way Diff

 

Exterior

  • Front and Rear Strut Braces
  • 350z front Brembo brakes
  • Adjustable arms
  • Apexi Gen 2 coilovers
  • Polybushed
  • Tinted S14a Headlights
  • Kouki rear lights
  • Full vertex kit
  • Bomex side skirts
  • Genuine Kouki spoiler with custom lip
  • Custom front splitter (not installed for pictures)
  • Front Bumper quick release
  • 50mm Rear quarters 30mm Vented wings
  • Dmax roof spoiler
  • Jap pressed plates
  • 5Zigen RS1 wheels 18×10 et 25.
  • 20mm and 25mm spacers
  • Dewipered rear

 

Interior

  • Manual Boost Controller
  • K-Sport Hydro
  • Recaro Confettis SR2
  • OMP Suede Wheel
  • Trust gearknob
  • Blitz turbo timer
  • Blitz boost gauge in Greddy mount
  • JDM Checkered Mats