Tag Archives: Ian Davies

Doran’s Prodrive Partnership Bolsters Depth of Global Rallycross Field

Liam Doran may have been the fastest qualifier at X Games Foz do Iguacu behind the wheel of a Citroen, but the 2011 X Games gold medalist isn’t one to shy away from changing marques completely if he thinks it will help him run better.

That’s exactly the case at X Games Barcelona, as Doran switches to a MINI for the first time in Global Rallycross competition. But just as significant as the new manufacturer is the team supporting him: the famed Prodrive operation, which is competing in rallycross for the very first time this weekend.

“I feel like working with Prodrive will boost my confidence and team’s capabilities,” says Doran. “I am learning a lot from Prodrive and hope they move me forward in my career. It is also very satisfying to know that a company like Prodrive has confidence in me to win events.”

The British-based organization was established in 1984 and has since seen great successes in stage rally, sports car racing, and even Formula 1. Since 2011, they have run MINIs in the World Rally Championship, even fielding cars for current OlsbergsMSE driver Patrik Sandell in two races last season. It is from that base that Doran’s car has been constructed.

“The MINI RX project is very different to anything any of the other rallycross competitors are running,” continues Doran. “It is based around a current 2013 World Rally car, which gives it huge potential advantages over a regular rallycross car. The main difference for now is that we are running a car with less power but less weight. This should work out to be competitive on X Games-style courses, where the tracks are slippery and tight.

“The team has loads of experience with the car in WRC form so this should also help in being competitive early on in the project.”

But Doran won’t be the first driver to load up with WRC-caliber artillery; Ken Block is no stranger to having similar equipment in his section of the paddock. The Hoonigan Racing Division driver has been running with the same chassis since 2011, and enjoys the support of factory WRC team M-Sport in his #43 Ford Fiesta ST.

“The biggest advantage for me is really the chassis, all of the technology put behind the chassis, and the engineers that are so used to coming to these events and working at such a high level,” he says. “All that experience comes along with the package, especially with this particular chassis, because it’s run in the World Rally Championship. They have basic setups for the car for different types of gravel and different types of tarmac. So we’re able to use all that experience to help with some basic setups of the car. And then I work from there to make it work for me for whatever situation we’re in.”

“I think it’s good that some of the World Rally Championship teams are looking at the sport,” adds Derek Dauncey, Block’s team manager, and a WRC veteran himself with the Mitsubishi team in the early 2000s. “There’s a lot of tech knowledge and experience within Prodrive and M-Sport, and we have some fantastic support from M-Sport when we built the car. We couldn’t have asked for more support from them.

“And Prodrive getting involved in the sport with Liam, that’s good for the sport as well, and the heritage—you’ve basically got a file cabinet of knowledge, why not use it on another sport? Global Rallycross is a championship to be seen, it’s going somewhere, so it’s quite important.”

Pastrana Racing’s Ian Davies would know as well as anybody the advantages that such a powerful team can offer. He worked within WRC, particularly with M-Sport, for two decades as an engineer, and led Block’s team before switching operations this year.

“I think when a team like Prodrive comes in,” he explains, “similar to the teams like M-Sport, they’ve got a big engineering resource, and they can react quite quickly. They will learn pretty fast—they will come here for the first race, and they will react. I was talking to an engineer that I’ve known from the WRC days, and this is very much a learning curve for them to come here.

“(But) the car will suit this type of track. It’s very small, it’s got good suspension travel, it will be soft. We know they’re running the 1600cc direct injection in a lighter weight class, so I think that they could be the surprise team this weekend.”

Photo credit: Alison Merion Padron

Path To Brazil: “Sibling Rivalry” Pushes Pastrana Racing Forward

In 2013, Pastrana Racing will have a new home base at DirtFish Rally School and a new crew led by world-class mechanic Ian Davies. But the names and faces attracting the most attention will likely be the men behind the wheel themselves—X Games legend Travis Pastrana and rising star Bryce Menzies.

Pastrana needs no introduction. He won the very first X Games gold medal in rally in 2006, and for years has been one of the United States’ premier rally drivers. In five GRC starts last season, Pastrana scored a popular victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the way to a top-10 finish in series points.

“Travis is phenomenal,” raves Lee Clark, CEO of DirtFish. “He’s just down to earth and grounded, and he struck up an instant rapport with the team. We’ve got a great affinity between the technicians, the management, and the athletes themselves.”

“Travis is very exciting, Travis can win,” adds Davies. “We saw at New Hampshire last year that he’s a fighter.”

The addition of Menzies only further enforces that environment. But besides fitting in with the vibe of the team, the off-road star adds something else to the mix: a completely different perspective on driving the car.

“Bryce was brought in just being a yo

Path To Brazil: New Crew, Base of Operations Highlight Revamped Pastrana Racing

Now in its second year of Global Rallycross competition, Pastrana Racing will retain Travis Pastrana and Bryce Menzies in its two Dodge Dart vehicles in 2013. But behind the scenes, the team features a brand-new crew that includes a new home base and new lead engineer.

Pastrana Racing will operate out of DirtFish Rally School, the Snoqualmie, Washington-based rallying haven that hosted a GRC round in the series’ inaugural season in 2011.

“We’re running the two-car team for Travis and Bryce,” says Lee Clark, CEO of DirtFish. “That first started the back end of last season—Pastrana Racing were looking to develop the car in the offseason. They recognized that the Dodge Dart had enormous potential, and they wanted to look to an organization that had the capability to take the Dodge Dart further. As an organization that’s unique within the US, we were at the top of the list.

“So our responsibilities within that, as technical partner, we are responsible not only for the preparation and maintenance of the vehicles through the season, being at the races with the team, but also for the development of the vehicle in the offseason before we get to Brazil and the season starts, and the development of the cars through the season and into next year.”

“(DirtFish) is awesome,” Pastrana raves. “It’s pretty far out there, but that’s kind of cool—when you go out to watch rally, in Washington, Oregon, those places, (or) Vermont and any of those mountain areas, they’re just awesome terrain, awesome for rallying. It’s pretty cool because we can go up there and there’s dirt, there’s pavement, there’s concrete, you’ve got some areas that are inside these huge sheds—you always have something that’s dry. We had a lot of wet practice up there that we didn’t get last year.”

“I’ve been up there two times now and their facility is amazing,” continues Menzies. “We went up there for two days—it’s been raining every time we went up there—but we tested for two days straight, in which we made a lot of changes to the car and got some more seat time. I feel a lot more comfortable in it.

“I’m happy that we actually got some time to test the cars before we go to Brazil, to make the right changes and see if we can get these cars to the top of the box.”

One of the biggest advantages that working out of DirtFish affords is the opportunity for the team to do a significant amount of testing. Compared to last year, when testing time was at a premium, Pastrana and Menzies have had much more time in the Darts this year.

“We’re using their extremely nice and very customizable facility, where we can really plan out what we need to test,” says Blair Stopnik, Pastrana Racing team manager. “And there’s a piece of that property that we can fine-tune and adjust for what we need to test. So we’re able to work on the car, roll it outside, and test right there. We’re really changing the way we’re doing things this year, we’re really putting a lot of emphasis on just running the cars, and DirtFish has allowed us to do that.”

“We have a unique facility—we have almost 60 miles of configurable courses that include paved, tarmac, and gravel-based roads,” notes Clark.

At the head of the team will be Ian Davies, who had been chief mechanic for Ken Block and the Monster World Rally Team in 2012. With Davies at the helm, Block scored two top seeds and three heat wins on the way to fifth in the GRC standings.

“I talked to some of the other manufacturer people who were looking to come into the sport anew, but that was always going to be a much longer term situation,” Davies notes. “(Pastrana Racing) already had cars, they’ve got Red Bull backing and Dodge manufacturer backing, which means that when you come into the team, there was going to be some money to do something when you got there.”

“Ian is making a lot of great strides and has a lot of great ideas,” Stopnik adds, “and we’re really fortunate to have his experience.”

Menzies says, “(Ian) has a lot of knowledge, and we’re really looking forward to it. We all get along really well, we work together really well, these guys have a lot of knowledge with rally cars. So it kind of helps me out, where my background is off-road and I’m new to this sport.”

Photo credit: Michael Whelan