There is no excuse for not knowing anything about the lovely little Toyota Corolla GT AE86 and her rallying adventures in the hands of drifter-turned-rally driver Josip Žagar Zax. If you need a bit of introduction, follow this link, but if you’re familiar with the story, continue reading. As you probably recall, Hachi suffered some injuries in her last rally outing back in May, so in order to fix the damage and make sure Corolla will be ready for the next challenge, Zax kissed his wife and kid goodbye, took a good long look at the sun and the sky before venturing in to the darkness of the garage. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and before this cheesy phrase was complete it was autumn, time for another Rally Show Santa Domenica in Croatia. Unique event held on the gravel surface with very exciting layout and huge following. Massive thing for an event which started as a small project led by few enthusiasts only to evolve into a fully decked rally show with over 120 entries this year.
So, what was Zax up to during his absence? Why don’t I let him do the talking and pictures do the… whatever it is they do.
Zax, the stage is yours.
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The time has come for another edition of Rally Show Santa Domenica. The only full gravel event in Croatia and the main, in fact the real reason why I decided to start rallying. Similar to last year, I wanted to test the car on gravel before the event, especially after Corolla received significant upgrades since its last outing. Main focus of my interest was the new suspension. I’ve spent many hours studying the Toyota Racing Development Bible and various other resources on setting up the MkI and MkII Escorts, seeing how the two share the almost identical concept. This led me to some conclusions on what I would like to get from the new suspension.
Old Koni shocks were replaced with the new Bilstein units. In the rear I decided to install shock absorbers from the Corolla TE71 rally car, featuring longer stroke and the damping force set to 230/105 kg. Standard 1.6 kg/mm / 1.8 kg/mm springs were replaced with longer and stiffer ones (2.6 kg/mm) both in front and in the rear. This also helped with increasing the ride height of the car.
The test session went very well. We were particularly interested in the jumps and I am very happy with how the car behaves now. Upon landing the suspension “absorbs” the impact and calms the car down instantly, so we can focus on following the optimal lines through the corners even in the bumpy and rough terrain. You can feel the big bumps and potholes in the corners, but the car stays in line. Safe to say, the research payed off!
Another major upgrade is the new Quaife steering column/rack with 2.5 turns lock-to-lock. It turns parking into a very tedious operation, but who cares, it works wonders at speed and on the stages. It did not take long to adapt to the more direct steering. With less time needed to spin the wheel in corners I will be able to focus more on the gears and the handbrake.
I hope we won’t forget to add some wiper fluid before the event. Apart from that, we’re ready to rally!
Finally, I’m very happy to say there are 20-ish RWD cars entered among over 120 competitors – top numbers for the RWD category. I can’t wait! Sunday, 8.30 AM, go!