Abarth 124 Rally makes a comeback with the Spider

Article by Andrew Christian, on March 7, 2016

It was forty years ago, during the Monte Carlo Rally in 1976, that the Abarth 124 Rally participated in what had been its last official race. For 2016, the Abarth 124 Rally is making a comeback with the same goal in mind, which is to examine the technical solutions of road cars when undergoing extreme situations, whether it is an icy road or a sunburnt tarmac.

There is also the objective of providing customers a road car that is reliable and delivers amazing performance. This newest version is therefore a mix of performance and technology resulting from the Abarth Racing Team’s experience in bringing the Scorpion back.

Overall, the new Abarth 124 Rally is for those who carry the racing world values of the brand and its sense of challenge.

In order for the new 124 Rally to be competitive, engineers at Abarth Racing Team made sure to reduce the weight and provide an overall balance.

This is the reason why a fixed composite hard top was used instead of a soft top and light materials were chosen as materials for the engine compartment and cockpit. With regards to the balance, the team mounted the engine just behind its front axle. Because of these different features, the weight has been distributed just a little bit to the rear axle giving it maximum traction even when under low grip conditions.

To improve the balance, its center of gravity was moved lower unlike that of the road car. The advantage of this was it offers road grip in addition to performance. The Abarth 124 Spider was made to be agile and light with the rally version being improved for competitions. In order to ensure that the Spider is certified under the FIA R-GT category, structural reinforcements had to be added. This allowed greater stress resistance as well as giving the crew the highest of safety standards.

In addition, a safety roll cage was also placed in the body. In fact when looking at the additions, it is clear that the goal was to have maximum ergonomics and optimum efficiency to allow both the driver and the co-driver to have superior performance. Important attention to even the smallest of details was made, such as with the space in the cockpit and how the interior controls are arranged. It is a well-known fact that rally cars suffer from extreme stress.

To solve this particular issue, the mechanical layout of the production car was developed even more despite the fact that it was already an outstanding one. For example, its multi-link rear suspension and the high front-end double wishbone suspension have certain kinematic features that allow for sufficient control when cornering. It also has metal joints that enable maximum steering precision. Finally, it even provides greater excursion for handling regardless of the road surface.

Outstanding grip is assured despite of the condition due to the adjustable dampers settings. For this particular project, the team used the code SE139 which traces its history as far back as Karl Abarth. The S stands for "Sports" while the E is for "Esperimental", referring to the technical upgrade and value of craftsmanship by Abarth.

The 139 in the code meanwhile refers to the fact that for 67 years, Abarth has made an average of two racing projects on an annual basis. This is a feat that only a few automakers can proudly claim. For this project as well, the team chose the best sponsors, and more importantly, the right technical partners.

One of these is Petronas Selenia which is the leader when it comes to high performance and technologically advanced lubricants. Petronas Selenia also helped in developing the engine. Other partners include Adler Pelzer Group which was responsible for making the composite components and Michelin which is its partner for tires development. This Abarth 124 Rally project is likewise a good way to showcase different Italian companies that have been part of racing history.

Take Sabelt for example. This is a brand that is recognized for safety equipment like seatbelts and bucket-belts. Kappa is another partner which is a sportwear brand whose products are worn by the "Abarth Squadra Corse". When it comes to the car mechanics, that task falls to LM Gianetti. Started around 40 years ago, LM Gianetti was present when the first-ever Abarth 124 Rally was manufactured and it has continued to work with the technical team in order to reengineer the suspensions and the bodywork.

EXT SHOX meanwhile helped with its knowledge on 4-way adjustable dampers, a first for a rally car. Continuing with the list of partners, BMC helped the team with the air-intake system, an important component as it ensures a reliable and constant engine performance. The wheels were developed and made by OZ, which are not only light but robust as well. On the interior, the road-going version uses Alcantara from its dashboard up to its seat trimming.

The technology used in the interior is 100% "Made in Italy" and helps in lowering the sun reflection thereby making sure that that the vision of the driver is not impeded. It also helps improve the grip on the steering wheel. This technology also saves on weight. When the team revamped the Abarth 124 Rally, they wanted to ensure that it would not only be for professional drivers but that it would be enjoyable to the public too.

People can line up and see this rear wheel drive transmission vehicle powerslide, a rare sight these days. In addition to using the best technologies in the world today, the 124 Rally also brings back memories of rallies especially in the 1970s when such races were not only more appealing but also attracted much larger crowds.

Powertrain

When looking under its bonnet, one can see that powering this excellent vehicle is the turbocharged "bialbero" 1.8-liter direct injection engine. As a result of various selectable mappings, the engine can deliver a maximum 300 HP of power at 6,500 rpm. It also offers optimum torque curve which is important when steering.

Another remarkable detail is that it offers acceleration balance when oversteering. The performance it gives is indeed amazing as its acceleration is accompanied by a full and captivating sound.

The project was done to make sure performance and reliability are present regardless of the conditions that rallies often encounter like dirt, dust, heat, ice, and even water.

Coupled with the engine in the 6-speed sequential gearbox with the shift paddles and the traction that is due to the mechanical limited slip differential.

For the Abarth, racing is not just about adrenaline but also a way to experiment and test different solutions with the aim of giving excitement and performance.

Press Release

The New Abarth 124 rally

- The world première in Geneva for the prototype developed by the Abarth Racing Team.
- Under the bonnet a powerful 1800 direct injection turbo engine delivering 300 HP.
- Rear-wheel drive with self-locking differential for second to none performance.
- Refined technical solutions to make the new Abarth protagonist of the rally.
- Dedicated to all those who together with the brand share the racing world's values.

"Left 4 cut, 30 caution jump, right 5 left 3 close, 100, right 2 don't cut..."

This is the route to challenge yourself, to beat the laws of physics, to write a story made of courage and passion....

Along with the Abarth 124 spider, the first prototype of the 124 rally also has a surprise début. For the first time, the road car and the racing car have been developed and unveiled together.

The new Abarth 124 rally is a combination of pure technology and performance born from the experience of the Abarth Racing Team to bring back the Scorpion to the most glorious and demanding rally tracks, from the sticky sunburnt tarmac to the more slippery ice surfaces.

Forty years after its last official race, the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally, the Abarth 124 Rally is back with the same mission: to test road cars' technical solutions under extreme conditions and to guarantee all Abarth customers excellent performance and maximum reliability.

It is dedicated to all those who share the brand's sense of challenge and racing world values.

Under the bonnet, it fits the 1800 cm3 "bialbero" turbocharged direct injection engine. Thanks to the different selectable mappings, it provides power up to 300 HP at 6500 rpm and optimum torque curve, a key element to allow the driver steering and acceleration balance while oversteering. Performance is breath-taking; acceleration is scorching and marked with full, riveting sound. The project was developed to ensure reliability and performance, even in the extreme conditions typical of rallies: ice, dirt, dust, water, heat.

Even the transmission was designed to enhance performance: the engine is coupled to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox with shift paddles and traction is assured by the mechanical limited slip differential.

Racing, for Abarth, is not only adrenaline, but also testing grounds to experiment with solutions that guarantee performance and excitement. To enhance the 124 rally's competitiveness, the Abarth Racing Team's engineers have worked with precise objectives: first of all, weight reduction and overall balance. For this reason, the engine is mounted behind the front axle; for the cockpit and the engine compartment, light, resistant materials were used, while the soft top was replaced by a fixed composite hard top. With these features, weight distribution leans slightly towards the rear axle, ensuring maximum traction even in low grip conditions. The centre of gravity was further lowered as compared to the road car to the advantage of road grip and straightforward performance.

The new Abarth 124 spider was born light and agile, and the rally edition was further refined to star in competitions. Homologation in the FIA R-GT category has required structural reinforcements to guarantee even greater stress resistance and the highest safety standards for the crew, and the body now has a safety roll cage. The whole design has been engineered for maximum efficiency and ergonomics, to ensure driver and co-driver not only superior performance, but also attention to every minute detail, such as the arrangement of interior controls and available space in the cockpit.

Rally cars undergo extreme stress; this is why the superb mechanical layout of the standard production car has been further developed: the high front-end double wishbone suspension and multi-link rear suspension have specific kinematic features with metal joints for maximum steering precision, ample control on corners, greater excursion for handling different road surfaces and adjustable dampers settings guarantee always superior grip in every situation.

In conclusion the project code, SE139, has a great deal of history that goes back directly to Karl Abarth. The SE stands for "Sports" and "Esperimental", a direct link to the Abarth values of craftsmanship and Technical Upgrade. While the 139 progressive number exemplifies that in 67 years of history, Abarth has managed to develop an average of two racing projects per year. A great accomplishment that only a few other car manufactures can be proud of.

A great team to bring back Abarth on the rally stage

Team Abarth has worked very hard to select best in class technical partners and sponsors.

Among these, Petronas Selenia that has always been at the forefront in developing technologically advanced and high performance lubricants and it has contributed in the engine development. While Adler Pelzer Group was greatly involved in making crafting composite components for the car and Michelin is the technical partner for tires development.

The Abarth 124 rally project is also a great showcase for a number of Italian companies which have been involved in racing for many years. As is the case for Sabelt, one of the most well-known brand in motorsport, which contributes with its bucket-seats, seatbelts and other safety equipment, and also for Kappa, the leading sportswear brand worn by the entire "Abarth Squadra Corse". For what concerns the mechanics of the car, LM Gianetti, a company born some 40 years ago and witnessed the development of the first Abarth 124 Rally, has closely worked with Abarth's Technical Team to reengineer completely the bodywork and the suspensions scheme. Whilst, EXT SHOX has contributed with its specific know-how in the development of 4-way adjustable dampers used for the first time in a Rally car.

BMC has supported the team in developing the air-intake system of the car, which it is crucial to allow constant and reliable engine performance. The lightweight, but at the same time robust racing wheels, have been developed and crafted by OZ, the legend in motorsport.

In conclusion, as for the road-going model, Alcantara® has completely revamped the interior of the car starting from the dashboard to the seats trimming, with 100% "Made in Italy" technology contributing to saving weight and reduce sun reflections towards the interior of the car, allowing no interferences for the driver enhancing the driver grip on the steering wheel.

The team has worked with great passion to revamp a rally icon as the Abarth 124 rally, a rear wheel drive transmission is synonym of great fun for the drivers, but also for the public. Surely, people will queue up to see pass by the new 124 Abarth rally and see it powerslide, which have become very rare today.

The new 124 rally developed with the best of technology available today, contributes to bring back sweet memories from the past of rallying in the 70's were competitions were more engaging and gathering massive crowds.

After the Geneva Motor Show unveiling, Abarth opens the pre-booking phase to prepare your début in the 2017 rally season.

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