Patton: “I Want To Get Reliability Back”
At the conclusion of the 2013 season Mick Patton applied to CAMS for an allowance to revert the engine in his Volkswagen Polo back to a stock power plant as the Canberran driver looks to find the reliability that became the hallmark of his former privateer Subaru days.
“We asked CAMS if we could run the standard 1.8 litre, turbo-charged engine that was fitted to the Australian delivered Polo GTi,” explained Patton.
The South African developed and built Polo’s that have been campaigned in the East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship by Patton, former 4WD Champion Michael Boaden and former Australian Rally Champion Justin Dowel, came fitted with two different versions of a highly-tuned race engine.
“The car I bought had a 20-valve, 2-litre engine while the car Michael (Boaden) bought had a 20-valve, 1.6 litre engine. Both are proper race engines, they are all custom fabricated in South Africa and the supply of spare parts is extremely difficult. You can’t go to your local Volkswagen dealer and order anything that’s in either of those engines,” said Mick.
Both Patton and Boaden suffered engine failures last year, with Boaden electing to miss the final Round of the series to save funds after an engine let go at the penultimate Round at Rally Australia.
The two different engines are both normally-aspirated, while the standard engine Patton applied to run is turbo-charged. “Some people might think we’re just chasing more power, the truth is this is all about reliability. Plain and simple I was successful in the Subaru because it was reliable, we finished every rally, and that’s what I want to achieve this year with the change.”
“When I’m half a second off Eli Evans at the end of a ten kilometre stage, that’s the point I’ll start worrying about finding more power. This is about getting back to basics.”
“Apart from the engine though I’m focused on the overall package, there is still a lot of little improvements I feel we can make to the car, and certainly a lot of big improvements we can make to the driver too,” Patton laughed.
Approval for the new engine came just prior to Christmas and Patton said he’s been hard at work preparing a pair of standard engines since then, one for his Polo and one for Boaden’s.
“We started the first engine for the first time this week, which was great after pretty much four weeks of hard work to get it ready. We will run the engines fairly standard, the difference will be in how we tune them. We’re even moving away from race fuel which we had to run last year in the old engines to standard pump fuel this year, that cost saving alone will be huge!” Patton exclaimed.
“I thank CAMS for working with us and, Barry Habgood and Peter MacNeall have been tremendous. Like most things in life you’ve got to ask the questions and work with the answers.”
Patton is planning a key test session prior to the opening Round of the series to ensure the engine is running as planned. “Definitely we’ll do a two day test in the next couple of weeks, hopefully around mid-February,” he commented.
And in a final positive announcement Patton confirmed that his sponsors OEX, Penrite and Repco had recommitted for another season. “To have their continued support is incredible, and we look to reward that support this year with improved results,” Patton said.
**’Editors Note – The approval to use this engine is on the basis of a 27mm restrictor being fitted.**