Friday, August 6, 2010

AE86 in motorsport history

AE86 drifting (levin)

During its production life, the AE86 was a popular choice for showroom stock, Group A, and Group N racing, especially in rallying and circuit races. Even after production of the car was discontinued, many privateer teams still raced the AE86, and it is still a popular choice for rallying and club races today. Part of the continued appeal of the AE86 for motorsports is its rear-drive configuration, a feature not available in most newer lightweight coupes. In Group A world rally cars (1600 cc class) the 4AGZE engine was popular. In Group A touring car races, the car either dominated the lower category where eligible or fought it out with Honda Civics or the later AE92s and AE101s whilst maintaining its competitiveness. In Ireland, where rallying is considered one of the most popular forms of motorsport, as organizing regulations are more relaxed compared to that of other countries, the AE86 was popular when new, and is still so popular that teams will purchase cars from the UK due to local shortages. The AE86 is also popular for rally use in Finland, where the cars can be competitive in the F-Cup competition for naturally aspirated 2WD cars.

The semi-factory supported Kraft team entered a spaceframe Trueno at the JGTC with a 3S-GTE engine that came from a SW20 MR-2 Turbo producing about 300 hp (224 kW) as for the GT300 regulation in 1998. Despite being popular with the racefans, the car had minor success and was abandoned from use halfway through the 2001 season in favor of a newly delivered Toyota MR-S.
The rear wheel drive configuration, combined with the AE86's light weight (approximately 2300 lb (950–970 kg) curb weight), balance and relatively powerful (and easy to tune) 4A-GEU/4A-GEC engine made it popular among the Japanese hashiriya (street racers in Japanese), many of whom raced in mountain passes (touge in Japanese) where the corners suited the AE86 best, especially on the downhill.[1] Among those who utilized this car was Japanese racing legend Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as the Dori-Kin ("Drift King" in Japanese). Tsuchiya helped popularize the sport of drifting, which involves taking a car on a set of controlled slides through corners. The AE86's FR configuration made it well suited to this kind of cornering, and currently the car is a mainstay of drift shows and competitions. The main character of the anime and manga Initial D, Takumi Fujiwara, uses his father's AE86 for racing and making his tofu deliveries.

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