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Hot Monaro ready for GT assault
HOT MONARO READY FOR GT ASSAULT
17.3.05. Allen Orchard is a man on a mission. Having campaigned a relatively stock Vauxhall Monaro in last year’s hotly contested GT Championship, his Emotional Engineering team based in Egham, Surrey, is turning up the wick with a full blown assault on Britain’s prestigious sportscar series, with a heavily reworked version of the Corvette -powered four-door saloon.
Utilising a former Australia road/rally car that had its last competitive outing on the Targa Tasmania, the team entered the car with few changes for 2004 in the British GT championship. “We needed a stating point for development,” states Orchard. The team were rewarded with an eighth place finish at the season finale at Brands Hatch – their best result of the year.
Monaro in action at Brands Hatch 2004
“Last year’s Championship turned out to be much tougher than we’d originally anticipated with more quality teams entering the fray as the season unfolded,” Orchard adds. However, we were encouraged by our end of season performance and this gave us valuable information about the car, the set up and how we could move forward to make it a more competitive package.”
Sponsors unveil the 2005 car at the Cummins Buckinghamshire facility last week
For 2005, main backers Cummins, Valvoline, and Vauxhall are continuing to support the team, plus a host of motorsport specialists have come on board. As a result, the team have been able to make some fairly drastic changes to the Monaro – which has now lost some 50kg. The car is significantly different in almost every respect. A new front spoiler and splitter, rear diffuser and wing are under development and the drivetrain in particular is now considerably lighter. “We use an Australian Hollinger six-speed sequential gearbox, which now mates to a carbon fibre propshaft, a lighter limited slip differential, lightweight driveshafts, hubs and tougher bearings for the 18x11inch wide wheels,” explains Orchard.
Under bonnet, the Monaro now packs almost 600bhp from the original LT1 5.7 litre aluminium V8 powerplant. However, under development is a stroker crankshaft package to increase capacity to a full 7.0 litres. The result will be big block Chevy performance without the drawbacks of added weight.
Drivers Mark Cole (left) and Matt Griffin, with Allen Orchard (centre)
Orchard’s team have their eyes set on a top five finish in the 2005 GT Championship and see their main rivals coming from the Ferrari 360 and Porsche RSR teams. The driver line-up includes 2004 hot shot Matt Griffin and experienced newcomer Mark Cole. Testing gets underway at the end of this month with the first round proper at Donington Park over the weekend of April 2/3rd. We’ll keep you posted of future developments.
Story: Andy Kirk
Photos: EE & Andy Kirk