Diahatsu Bathurst preview

Diahatsu Bathurst preview
Oct 3, 2001, 11:45 PM

Daihatsu, the name that dominated Australian rallying in the& ...

Daihatsu, the name that dominated Australian rallying in the‘ 90s with the legendary Charade, will be looking to build on its“ giant-killer” reputation at this weekend’s GT Production round at Bathurst.

All eyes will be on Rick Bates’ Sirion GTvi– Daihatsu’s latest hot hatch which owes much of its sporting heritage to the Charade’s unprecedented six Australian Rally Championship manufacturers titles.

Daihatsu factory driver Bates experiences the extremes of Bathurst performance this weekend, racing both the least powerful and most powerful sedans at Mount Panorama.

On Saturday, he will drive the 75kW 1.3-litre Daihatsu Sirion GTvi in the two-hour GT Production car Showroom Showdown, before switching to a 450kW 5.0-litre V8 Supercar in Sunday’s big 1000-kilometre race.

Bates expects his Sirion GTvi to exceed 200km/h on Conrod Straight during Saturday’s GT Production race. By comparison, the V8 Supercar he will co-drive with Cameron McConville on Sunday will reach maximum speeds of around 300km/h.

Bates has never competed at Bathurst in the Daihatsu, but is expecting to lap Mount Panorama at just under three minutes per lap during the GT Production event. Astoundingly, this is faster than the pole position time posted by a Falcon GT at the 1967 Gallagher 500.

“ It’s going to be a very big contrast from a driver’s point of view,” Bates concedes.“ I’m pretty confident I’ll be using a lot more full throttle in the Sirion each lap than I will in the V8 Supercar!”

“ We can’t expect to stay with the bigger cars on the long straights, but the GTvi will be very quick across the top and down the mountain, because it has great handling, balance and excellent brakes”.

“ If there’s one thing we’ve proved to all the other GT Production competitors this year it is Daihatsu’s reliability.

“ The car is very strong, and we’ll drive it absolutely flat-out, pushing the other guys as hard as we can for the class win. It’s Bathurst, so anything can happen.”

Daihatsu’s Sirion GTvi is the smallest-capacity car in the GT Production car category, for which only standard road cars are eligible.

Its 1.3-litre engine is the most powerful naturally-aspirated engine available in Australia. It is considerably smaller than the 1.8-litre and 2.2-litre engines of its Class E competitors and tiny when compared to the 5.7-litre capacity cars in the outright class.

Bates, who will share the Sirion with co-driver Geoff Forshaw in the two-hour‘ mini-enduro’, is confident that what his GTvi lacks in brute horsepower against the outright class cars, will be more than compensated by agile, high-speed handling, Daihatsu’s proven reliability and frugal economy.

Mount Panorama’s daunting 6.213-kilometre track - located 830 metres above sea level - is not what you would call an ideal circuit for small cars.

It climbs over 200 metres from its lowest point on Pit Straight to its highest point at Skyline, with a 1-in-6 gradient at its steepest section - The Cutting.

The uphill climb on Mountain Straight is just over one kilometre in length. The famous Conrod Straight - so named because of its reputation for destroying engines -stretches for nearly two kilometres including the high-speed‘ Chase’ section.

The Sirion GTvi’s K3-VE2 engine is a 1.3-litre (1298cc) four cylinder, twin-cam, DVVT (Dynamic Variable Valve Timing), 16-valve engine that produces 75 kilowatts at 7000rpm and 120 Newton metres of torque at 4400rpm.

The production vehicle, currently available at driveaway prices from $16,990 (manual), is available with either five-speed manual transmission (as used on the GT-P car) or optional four-speed automatic with Daihatsu’s Formula One-inspired“ Steer-Shift”; which allows semi-automatic gear changes via shift buttons mounted on the steering wheel.

Sirion GTvi’s sporty performance is enhanced with ABS and EDB (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) as standard equipment.


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Series Supercars
Drivers Cameron McConville , Rick Bates