Published on June 28th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
RCM and the Gobstoppers – a lesson in time management
Just a few years ago, time attack was something that the motorsports community frowned upon, largely because it was so starkly different from the rule-bound, lap-after-lap, wheel-to-wheel action you see in your average race series. It was unconventional, it was unorthodox, and it simply seemed like a bunch of souped-up cars going through a glorified qualifying session. There was little respect for the heavy engineering involved, and how calculated each hot-lap stint is.
But in more recent years, the World Time Attack Championship and various other time attack competitions around the world have gained popularity, thanks to world-renowned racecar drivers taking part and piloting various machines to victory. On top of that, one could argue that the drivers themselves play a relatively equal role in the success of the team; sure, a driver must be competent enough to handle such a wild car, but it’s the engineers that put in the effort to shave those milliseconds off.
We’ve seen some incredible time attack cars over the last few years. The Nemo Mitsubishi Evo is one such example, commanding attention even 2 years after it’s brief stint in the world of Time Attack. It was such a brutal example of rule exploitation, with incredible CFD aero and a butchered chassis that channeled air straight through the middle in order to maximise downforce. The rules were revamped just to prevent something like this from happening again, and the records set by the Nemo are still just out of reach for most, even with far more power on tap.
Even though the Nemo has come and gone, over in the United Kingdom there has been one car (and team) that dominated at the races. Roger Clark Motorsport has produced some incredible Subaru time attack cars, and this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed showcased their Gobstopper II- the second coming of their original Gobstopper time attack machine. This is a team that has a special place in my heart, because their incredible 1000 hp Gobstopper was the car that first drew my attention to the time attack scene.
It was based on the Subaru GC8 platform in 22B guise, and at it’s heart was a motor that put out 780 hp- one which started it’s life as a regular old Subaru EJ20 flat-4 engine. With a dose of nitrous oxide, power outputs would be pushed up to 850 hp- a staggering figure for a lightened time attack car such as the Gobstopper. There are numerous videos of it going full on sideways during time attack runs, mesmerising as it was so unlike anything that had come before it. It took UK Time Attack Championship titles in 2008 and 2009 before quietly retiring.
RCM wasn’t done with the time attack scene, but they had to come up with something more modern and relevant- and so the Gobstopper II was born. In their effort to foster ties with Subaru and a proper motorsport development program, they chose the Version 10 chassis to use as their new time attack car. Their chassis wasn’t any Version 10 though- it was one of the last few that were developed by ProDrive for Subaru’s rally program.
The engine is the same built EJ20 motor that propelled the original Gobstopper to victory, but the main attraction is it’s heavily developed aerodynamics. While the Gobstopper may have won through sheer brutal power and the talent of it’s pilot Olly Clark, the Gobstopper II has a heavier emphasis on precision, and a more clinical approach to speed. The overfenders aren’t all too aggressive in nature, but the massive wing on the rear combined with a simple front splitter is enough to keep the car planted at high speed. The car sits lower to the ground as well, giving it some measure of ground-effect- perhaps inspired by the Nemo Evo.
And the work paid off. RCM took the UK Time Attack Championship title for 2014, and reclaimed it’s place as the quickest car on the circuit among some truly fearsome competition. The car certainly deserves to be put on stage, both a reward for the efforts of the incredible engineering team behind it, as well as a testament to the skills of Olly Clark.
What’s next for the team at RCM? They’re not a company known to wear their heart on their sleeve, but it would be interesting to see them try their hand at other forms of motorsport or develop a package for the current generation Subaru WRX STi. For now, however, it seems that they’re making the rather clever decision to stick with what the know best. But if someone were to make a road-going homage to the RCM Gobstopper II, it would be a work of wonder.