ATL Automotive Racing today officially unveiled its first locally engineered motor racing car; a 1995 Honda Civic hatchback described by Chief Engineer Raj Jadusingh as the most technically advanced of its kind ever built in Jamaica for the MP1 (Modified Production Class One) category.
A beaming motor racing driver Natasha “Chiney Dolly” Chang watched as the cover was removed from her new car inside the ATL Automotive Showroom on Hagley Park Road in Kingston, days before the much anticipated Independence of Speed race meet at Dover. It was the culmination of months of modification by a technical team appointed by lead sponsor ATL Automotive Limited. With much of the modification focusing on lightening the weight of the car, it is now in a state to produce quicker lap times.
However, Mr. Jadusingh says the MP1 is the smallest engine displacement at Dover so there is less power. As such the modification was mainly focused on the chassis, aerodynamics and brakes so the lap times will come from the handling and the ability to corner and brake very well. “Lightening makes the car accelerate faster, stop faster, turn easier and more reliable; putting less stress on the drive line components of the car. The car responds much quicker with relatively small touching of the gas pedal and movement of the steering wheel makes the car respond quicker. All control inputs of the car are amplified when it’s lighter,” he explained.
He noted that the car was stripped to the bare minimum required to make it functional. “We focused primarily on reducing the weight of the car by removing existing original material and replacing it with alternate materials like high carbon content steel, aluminum, fibre glass and carbon fibre. We have also removed as several unnecessary components like the power steering wheel,” he pointed out.
He added that the weight distribution has been shifted in terms of how much is concentrated at the front and rear. Much of the weight is now concentrate between the wheel base. The roof and back replaced with fibre glass as well as the floor replaced with aluminum and steel.
Natasha says she is looking forward to the Independence of Speed Meet this weekend and will be focusing on cutting braking distance to improve her lap time by two seconds. “I’m excited because this is my first campaign with a full time circuit car which is a change from my rally experience. I will be relying on my go karting background to help me readjust. It would be great if I improved my track time from 1:31 to 1:29 seconds in this car,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer, Adam Stewart says this is another investment underscoring the company’s commitment to the growth of the automotive and motor racing industries. He said the company believes the introduction of the Audi TT DTM to Dover driven by Doug Gore last year raised the bar by increasing the level of competitiveness and generating more interest in the sport.
Mr. Stewart pointed out that the company is sponsoring Natasha because she is a member of the ATL family in her capacity as Marketing Coordinator who happens to be a skilled motor racing driver. “With minor modifications done to the car in time for the last Dover meet, Natasha drove brilliantly to register one second place and two third places, exceeding expectations. Those are encouraging signs for a sponsor and we believe this young driver is one to watch,” he added.
“Every time a meet is held at Dover there seems to be more Hondas added to the track – it has become ‘Honda Country’. Not only has Honda just been voted Britain’s most reliable brand and America’s most trusted, but its reliability is also evident on the race track where small displacement engines are able to produce amazing horsepower and race all day long without a single failure. Honda’s technology is simply unmatched in the Japanese Automotive arena and that’s what makes us so proud to represent this brand, The Power of Dreams lives on in Jamaica and at Dover,” he said.
The Chief Engineer says work will continue on the Honda Civic following this Sunday’s meet with more structural work and other unplanned modifications based on the car’s performance.
Mr Jadusingh says the car is also eligible for the Bracket and TS1 (Thunder Sport Class One) categories. “This Car is unlike what is usually built locally. There are mainly two types of cars in Jamaica’s Motor Racing industry. The majority of local vehicle engineers simply add parts to a regular road car to transform it for track meets. There is also the purpose built race car, manufactured specifically for racing and these are usually imported. This Honda Civic is one of few being built locally with an attempt to meet purpose built race car standards,” he explained.