Spanish Report: More Fuel for the WRC Fire

An article published yesterday on spanish website as.com claims that Saab will be joining the WRC for the 2013 season. Now before you all attack me for posting silly conjecture from around the internet tubes, I thought I’d at least diffuse this story before it got around. A rough English translation:

“A good time for poetry. After crossing the desert in the World Rally Championship, we can glimpse light at the end of the tunnel [and it looks like brighter times are ahead]. Even now there are only two brands, Citroen and Ford, Mini is one step of his debut in May in Sardinia and Volkswagen will announce its entry into the next week in Portugal. To complete the party, Saab will also be involved in the spectacular sport with its future compact model, to be called 9-2 or 9-1.

The Swedish brand has been acquired by Dutch sports car maker Spyker, in turn owned by Russian tycoon Vladimir Antonov, a lover of rallies to just buy the company that owns the television rights of the championship, North One’s next step is the introduction of Saab in the World Cup, scheduled for 2013, but could even get ahead of the next season.

The Swedish firm is not new in the sections, and with four wins in the Rally of Sweden, in 1973, 1977 and 1979 by Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund in 1976. For the moment and have started their bids to different specialty engineers, and have fellow Russian Evgeny Novikov to be ready to pilot the car for the challenge.”

Now before you start salivating (“but Jeff, they even know the driver’s name, it must be true!”) remember the 9-1 isn’t even in the business plan yet. For it to even come to fruition by 2013, when the new 9-3 launches, would be a minor miracle. Undoubtedly work and plans are being hatched behind the scenes in Trollhättan while they decide what partners would make sense for such a model, but until there is an official indication that Saab is closer to a deal, this report is pie in the sky conjecture. I’m not saying I necessarily don’t believe it could happen, just that I’m weary of the source and certainly wondering about their own sources. Hopefully they prove right.

That said this is as good a time as ever to throw the idea out there, if a small Saab is green lighted, do you think it’s a good idea for Saab to immediately get involved with the World Rally Championship? What priority would you place on it, and why? Sound off in comments.

 

Thanks for the tip Marco!

ivo 71
Guest
ivo 71
5 years 6 months ago

Well, you could start trying to get confirmation or denial by asking Vladimir Antonov himself about his WRC plans and a possible connection with Saab. VA has commented here a few times in the recent past and his avatar signature contains a UK email address coming back to his racing interests.

Ivo

Mahmood A.R.
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Well this is very interesting, to hear that the rally master will be in the game once again, and it will be a good hit against the major car manufacturers.

I think that Saab would enter the rally world with a whole new idea of a “Green WRC car” i know it sounds crazy but think of it for an instance (4*4 car powered by bio-ethanol).

It’s like the old saying: hitting two birds with one stone.

Mr T
Guest
Mr T
5 years 6 months ago

Most probably it would be based on the NG 9-3 phoenix platform if it would be ready by then. I would love to see a bio ethanol hybrid in WRC.

Hogge
Guest
Hogge
5 years 6 months ago

I think that Saab should make a Sonett based rally car, reminiscent to the Lancia Stratos and Toyota’s 4WD rally Celicas.
Tiny 4WD car with two seats and a short wheelbase. And of course, versions will be sold to the public.

Joachim Delfortrie
Guest
Joachim Delfortrie
5 years 6 months ago
Yeah, I agree very conjecture. Sure, I think Saab should go into Rally in the future if they manage to make profit first or at least break-even. Step by step. Rally is excellent marketing for a niche brand like Saab with xwd credentials. Here in Brazil, Mitsubishi sold well because of their “Paris-Dakar” history and that many Brazilians are off-road fans (well the roads here are crap so you have no choice .. haha). Obviously, the brazilian market is getting more and more established so easy-marketing techniques are becoming less and less effective. Still, for name recognition for Saab down… Read more »
saabyurk
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Well, there is at least some good recognition of the old Saab 96 in Brazil. Check out the comments under this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOTeF4MiXRY
I know the old 96 is rallied by some Brazilians, but I can’t find a link at the moment. They talk about the “sting of the bee” (a 2-cycle reference I think). 🙂

Hans H
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Hans H
5 years 6 months ago

The recent WRC cars are really, really small. Is the proposed 9-1/9-2 that small?

Anyway, if Saab should go that route, I would like to see the Phoenix structure with electric four-wheel-drive in a short, cocky Saab 9-1. Black, like the SUHRT 99 Turbo. Driven by someone that calls attention, Mattias Ekström comes to mind.

Hogge
Guest
Hogge
5 years 6 months ago

Magnus Samuelsson has started to Rally. Or Mikael Persbrandt!

Hans H
Guest
Hans H
5 years 6 months ago

…and while we are dreaming – why not get Kimi Räikkönen and Robert Kubica.
That’s gonna get the world take notice… 🙂

Hogge
Guest
Hogge
5 years 6 months ago

Why do you find those two unlikely? The Saab team could consist of one driver whose a celebrity (Samuelson for example) and the other could be an actually good rally driver. Those two combined: a really big name and another guy who actually gets good times would be the ultimate PR!

Hans H
Guest
Hans H
5 years 6 months ago

I’m sorry if you got that impression. I was not trying to put you down, I was just dreaming. 🙂

Your idea is not bad at all.

theSandySaab
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theSandySaab
5 years 6 months ago

Two reasons why I like this;
1. Saabs rally history and previous successes
2. I dont really care for F1 and the like, but rallye is a proof of sound design and reliable construction and solid build. It translates directly and indirectly into production cars and build brand image and awareness.
Saab and WRC – I say GO!

lala
Guest
lala
5 years 6 months ago

…is a proof of sound design and reliable construction and solid build. It translates directly and indirectly into production cars and build brand image and awareness.

Same goes for F1 and Le Mans Series (in which Spyker has been successful) etc.

theSandySaab
Guest
theSandySaab
5 years 6 months ago

Le Mans, yes, but my personal opinion is that F1 is way to extreme to really give anything substancial to normal motorists and vehicles. However, there seem to be forces within F1 to make it less extreme in terms overly expensive and exotic tech and even moving to “limited resources”, ie limit the amount of fuel, tires etc, over a race, displacement to smaller engines, even fuel and propulsion. This could (maybe) make me more interested….
Again, just IMHO…

Henrik
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Henrik
5 years 6 months ago

And hybrid systems, my guess is that the reintroduction of KERS in F1 will make hybrid systems develop 10 times faster than they´d normally would.

Romac
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Romac
5 years 6 months ago

I’ve found the perfect engine for a SAAB WRC car:
http://www.lotuscars.com/engineering/en/omnivore-research-engine

TP
Guest
TP
5 years 6 months ago

Does SAAB actually need to have a roadgoing version to make a WRC rally car? Sorry my possible ignorance here, but I thought the top end cars only have looks in common with production models and that they effectively are small series prototypes. The PhoeniX concept would make a good looking rally car, allthough the drivetrain will need to fit with the WRC spec to be competitive.

Henrik
Guest
Henrik
5 years 6 months ago

Yes, they have to be produced in certain numbers, I did also dream about the Phoenix beeing the “Stratos” of today.

erik3000
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erik3000
5 years 6 months ago

I think they should go in with the current 9-3. It wouldmaybe loose a lot compared to the current small cars, but the old subaru imprea was about 4400 mm, saab 9-3 is 4600.

I don’t think you should use a swedish driver, the saab rally will get enough attention in sweden anyway. Maybe a russian, german, or english combination driver/co-driver would be the best.

GerritN
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GerritN
5 years 6 months ago

US driver?
We could do with some nice PR here.

ivo 71
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ivo 71
5 years 6 months ago

A driver from India or China then if that’s what counts? These are today’s two biggest automotive markets. And, alas, the same markets where Saab sells zilch. Nothing. At all. And won’t in the foreseeable future, at least where India is concerned. VM said so himself.

I guess the Indians or the Chinese would go absolutely crazy should one of them place first in the world rally championship. A salesman’s paradise is the next stage.

Ivo

Red J
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

What about a talented driver.

But anyhow the current 9-3 would look like a pre-historical monster side by side with the DS3, Fiesta, Countryman or maybe the Polo next year.

Toby
Guest
Toby
5 years 6 months ago

It should be a recognisavble translation of the highest seller so probably 9-3 type car-to maximise recognition and possible sales-always good to have a Swede behind the wheel to emphasise the roots of the brand.

kenthebeardman
Guest
kenthebeardman
5 years 6 months ago
Hmmm…….”green lighted” could eventually be interpreted in different ways: a) signed off, and approved for production; b) emission “friendly”, meeting or aiming to meet, stringent coming EU regulations. Nevertheless, none of the adorable F1 teams are running on E85 or “biodiesel”. The rationale IMHU for a WRC participation is twofold – mechanical endurance testing, and a HUGE PR thing. SAAB has a remarkable past track record in rally victories, and let’s be supportive and openminded enough to let SAAB participate in “serious” events for product testing / development. In terms of “emissions”, the same amount of “poison” would be spewed… Read more »
Doctor Donk
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Doctor Donk
5 years 6 months ago

Rally is cool. Driver should be Scandinavian on Russian.
Also rally is great thing for testing body structure, xwd system, gearbox, engine and any other parts. Much closer to real life driving than F1 type of races.

SaabAero
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SaabAero
5 years 6 months ago

If you see the competition like the volvo c30 polestar WRC
its alsmost to good to be true to see a Saab challenge that kind of power..
but its good commercial if you get high up in the ranks so it all depends on how good
they do it.

Curvin O'Rielly
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Curvin O'Rielly
5 years 6 months ago
In the good old days of NASCAR racing in the U.S., the good old days being a time when the cars on the track resembled cars available in dealerships, manufacturers always said “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” When I think about Saab’s racing heritage – Eric Carlsson’s rallye wins, along with all the SCCA trophies won by various drivers – I think of production cars. Carlsson drove 92s, 93s, 96s and the Sonnett. They looked like production cars. Were they tweaked? Probably. Just as the 900 Turbo that won the 1979 SCCA Showroom Stock “A” Championship, beating such cars… Read more »
GerritN
Guest
GerritN
5 years 6 months ago

High priority, but only when a short wheelbase vehicle becomes available. A long wheelbase car will quickly be destroyed in the current WRC, too many jumps, etc.
Even a boring Subaru can become a hotcake seller because of the WRC, the PR of new Saabs rallying cannot be overestimated.

smoke_jaguar4
Guest
smoke_jaguar4
5 years 6 months ago
Pertinent comment from “Bolleta” from the original article: I don’t know where you’ve gotten this information, since Saab has not made this announcement, and the 9-2 or 9-1 are not in Saab’s future model portfolio, since, per Victor Mullen, the company’s owner, there is no money for their development, although these are projects that are on the table… I’d really like to see Saab return to rallies, since they are an iconic brand which are crossing a commerical desert right now, and I think this is an orginal brand with its own ideas, it should suvive within a global manufacturer…… Read more »
marc
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

When we did an interview with VM (Saabclub Holland’s magazine Saabberichten) ofcourse we couldn’t resist this question. VM told us (tongue in cheek) that he had shot every interviewer so far who asked that question. It would just be to costly. Then we rephrased the question and asked if Saab would take part in World Rallying if Saab would make a profit again. The answer was: “Yes, Saab belongs there.” Fingers crossed!!

Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
Guest
Jörgen Trued - SUHRT
5 years 6 months ago
SUHRT are following every that touches rallying or racing of course. Just to clarify some issues. Bowler is not a big operation with a big engineering department it is quite as small business with a tiny building and the cars coming out are not two alike. To be in WRC one has to make 25000 cars according to FIA. You must be able to prove in some way You will be selling that quantity. Saab made 200 cylinderheads for the 70ies 99 EMS for rally homologation at the end the only made aprox. 30 complete engines…. SUHRT are about to… Read more »
Mattea
Guest
Mattea
5 years 6 months ago

Nice line up, ther was to fue Saabs last year 😉
God luck

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