Interview: Moro Details Keys to Success for New Sonic Rallycross Program
On Monday, Global Rallycross veteran and longtime rally privateer Pat Moro officially divulged the details on his brand-new Chevrolet Sonic, a long-awaited project that will make its debut this weekend at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Moro’s addition to the 15-car Charlotte field also gives GRC representation from all three major American automakers for the very first time.
Yesterday, we talked to Moro primarily about his new car. Today, we shift the focus to Moro’s observations about the rest of the GRC field, and how he thinks the brand-new Sonic will hold up:
Have you been watching all of the races this year? What have you noticed about the field? Are there any characteristics of the Sonic that you think will give it an advantage in GRC competition?
I have been watching the races, and there are definitely some different things going on. The Mini looks like it corners a little bit better than everybody else’s car. Obviously the Fords are definitely the fast cars. But watching the races, the biggest characteristic that I’ve seen is, it seems like everybody goes into the first corner and piles up, and it;’s about who can get through that first pile-up the cleanest, they usually end up winning the race. Hopefully we can get a car that gets through that first corner free of all the stuff that happens. Then we can get out and actually race, and compare ourselves against the other cars.
So much of this sport seems to be on the launch right now. A lot of it seems to be who gets out of the first corner clean, and then everybody else seems to be fighting it out. Once the mud packs into the intercooler, the intake charge tends to get hot and the car tends to fall off. So if you can get through that first corner clean, down into clean air, I think you would have a pretty good shot at being to hold everybody off. There’s no perfect world, but the mud packing into the intercooler is something that we’ve seen on TV and something that we’re going to address, so we don’t have that kind of problem.
Obviously the rest of the field has had the full season to develop their cars in race trim, and you’ll only be running your first race at Charlotte. Given that, do you have to be cautious with your expectations for this season?
We are—we’re definitely cautious. It’s been since last year at Las Vegas that we’ve actually been up against everybody. This car is so much drastically better than the car we ran last year that we can’t even use it as a measuring stick anymore. The one thing is, being away for a little bit, being away from the first seven rounds of the series, you kind of lose a little bit of what everybody has picked up.
These cars seem to be ever-evolving. When we come out, we were kind of like “what are we missing by not running with them?” But we’re also developing a new car, so there’s always a huge learning curve. We’re being optimistic about it—we want to get out there and make it to the main, and have a really good showing for our new car. We have eons and eons of testing lined up, we’ve had a pretty good testing program. Once we hop out and run against the other cars, we’ll be able to know what we have to adjust in our testing program to develop the car for 2014.
To that end, is it too early to talk about 2014, or do you have a tentative plan for next season?
We’re going to go out there and try to mix it up. We feel like this car will be competitive. So we just want to go out there and mix it up. I don’t feel that Chevrolet wants to run around with the back of the field, and I know I don’t want to run around with the back of the field. I know that everybody who’s involved with that program wants to run well, and the thing that we looked at is, we weren’t going to show up to the race until we had a really good product.
With that being said, we’re going to be there with a car that we think is going to be competitive. I strongly feel that the car is going to be competitive, but I’m cautious on that because we have been away for several races building the new car. It takes a lot to develop the new car.
It’s really outstanding that Chevrolet has been with this program. It’s not too often that you get a guy who’s a privateer, that gets a chance to work with a factory program. It really is a dream situation for me. Chipping away at the back for so long, and to have Chevrolet notice that and to take this chance on us is just a dream situation.
Images via PMR Motorsports (1, 3, 4); Photo credit: QBA/QNIGAN.com (2)