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Author Topic: Preparing a Fulvia for racing  (Read 4020 times)
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Jai Sharma
Posts: 408

« on: 03 June, 2010, 07:10:41 PM »

I was recently asked by a couple of people, including one from Australia (shows the forum is read!) about an article I wrote a long time ago (with some help from Louise Kennedy) about prepping a Fulvia. It occurs to me that it might be worth posting so here it is-

Thinking of racing a Lancia?
Some Technical considerations
By Jai Sharma

This article is based on my own experience of racing a Fulvia 1600 in the HSCC 70’s Roadsports series.  Hopefully this article may be of some use or encouragement if you are considering doing something similar on the track with a Lancia of your own.

My comments on car preparation relate to the 70’s Roadsports regulations and although many of the items are common obviously, you should make your own checks if you are planning to race elsewhere (indeed these comments are from memory only).

Roll cage, trim and seat
For the 70’s Roadsports, you need a roll cage, ignition cutout, harnesses and a proper racing seat.  The cage, seat and harnesses need to be approved (again check in the MSA Bluebook) and in the case of the seat and harnesses at least, are “lifed”.  For the Fulvia, it was best to fit the cage first, naturally it is only going to be as good as the metal it is mounted on, so make sure the car is strong.  In some cases it is possible to get a rear half-cage only but I don’t think this is wise.  I am told that fitting a cage like this is something of a “Chinese puzzle” as it needs to fit snugly.  It mounts on the rear wheel arches (by the rear seat), and near the A & B posts.  On my car, the mounting on the A post was on the inner sill.  In order to put the nuts on the end of the bolt (or put in place a captive nut plate, I can’t remember which), you need to cut a small hole in the side of the inner sill to slide in the bolts/plate and weld it back up afterwards.  A door bar needs to be fitted on at least the drivers side.  It did take a few months for my rollcage to arrive, so you should ensure delivery will not delay your project.  The rest of the items are not specific to Fulvias so are readily available.

The seat then needs to be fitted, and bolted securely to the floor.  Since it won’t be adjustable in any way, it is naturally important to locate it correctly so a good driving position is obtained.  A more practical difficulty is fixing it properly, when buying the seat make sure you buy brackets which will allow fitment to your particular car.  You will need to cut off the existing runners.  Once this is in, the harness can go in, again making sure that strong places are found to mount it.  I chose a six point harness and all the safety gear was in black to hide the inevitable oil stains.

Basic Preparation
The ignition cut out is a relatively straightforward device, but something to check is that it does cut the engine while it is running.  A common pitfall, and one that certainly got me, was that it would prevent the car starting, but if it was already running it would continue running because, I believe, of the charge being output by the alternator.  So the moral is to check it at home before the scrutineers do so.

You will need to fit a fire extinguisher, either a hand-held one securely mounted, or a plumbed in system.  Again they need to comply with the rules so check the Bluebook.  You also need a rear foglight, which I mounted centrally on the rear valence, this is for use in races where there is poor visibility and there are rules as to where it can be mounted.

Also in the Bluebook is a requirement for a second throttle return spring.  In theory, a Fulvia has two sets of these anyway, but to avoid debate and the possibility of missing a race, I fitted another anyhow.  It was also a requirement to drill a couple of small holes through the sump flange and a couple of head bolts so that they could be wired and sealed if the car was to be subject to a compliance check.   Again, a small job, but one not to be overlooked.  If you are a novice with less than ten signatures on your race licence you also need to put a yellow and black novices cross on the back of your car.

Brakes and steering
I am presuming at this stage that your car is in generally good health with good structure, brakes, suspension, steering and engine as racing will quickly show up any weaknesses.  Incidentally, structural stiffening is not allowed in the 70’s Roadsports, although of course normal repairs are.  It is important to bear in mind that at the novice stage you want above all a reliable car so you get lots of track mileage, and realistically it will be the drivers limitations, not the cars, that are the main performance constraint at this stage.

So far as the brakes are concerned, my callipers were already rebuilt and the discs seemed fine, so I simply put in DOT 5 fluid and changed the pads to EBC Green Stuff, which don’t seem to fade but do seem to wear quite rapidly.  It is possible to buy EBC red stuff pads which are designed for still harder use but as yet I haven’t needed them.  It is worth having braided brake hoses and my car already had copper brake lines.  Beware that the master cylinder seals on a Fulvia can fail, often due to master cylinder corrosion tearing the seals, with total brake failure.  I did have problems with the car not braking straight on the circuit, although it was fine on the road, I believe that this was due to the small brake cylinders on the front callipers sticking slightly.

Steering-wise, my car seemed fine except that the steering idler had worn.  This can be difficult to detect in use, so careful inspection would be worthwhile.  Rebuilding it is not too difficult I understand but removal is a different story.

Suspension, tyres and wheel bearings
My dampers were already quite new Konis so they were fine.  In the HSCC you are limited as to what you can do, although you can change the bushing material you cannot use rose joints.  Some people have got nylatron bushes, which give a very precise control but a firm ride.  I kept my rubber bushes, many of which were probably 30 years old, and they seemed to work well although I recently changed them for polyurethane at the front.  You can change the anti-rollbars front and rear.  A 2000 HF front anti-roll bar is a little thicker than a Fulvia one and bolts straight on, if you can find one or alternatively you can get one made.

You can also lower the suspension provided the car passes over a block with pre-defined dimensions and of a height of at least 10cm.  This can be achieved by cutting down the rubber blocks on the upper wishbones, which are usually in a collapsed state anyway.  I left the rear suspension alone, generally all it seems to do is wave one wheel in the air which although theoretically may not be good, seems to work quite well.

There is an approved list of tyres and yours must come from that list and have enough tread to be road legal and there are regulations covering the size and profile.  The most popular ones are Dunlop D01 and Yokhama 032R.  In practice, most people seem to use fairly worn tyres and keep a couple of spare wheels with newer tyres on in the event of a wet race or wear making their tyres illegal to drive home on.  I am not aware of anyone “shaving” new tyres, which would be a bit extreme in my opinion.  You should be aware that these tyres generate much more grip than the car could have been designed for, so careful checking of components is wise to ensure that they are not in the process of failing.  The Yokohamas seem to cost about £80 per corner.

Although I have not changed mine, wheel bearings could be a source of some power being lost if they are not free-running.

Engine and exhaust
The crank and conrods must remain standard, as must the basic carburettors and inlet manifold.  If you wish, you can make no mods, other than reliability related ones.  The ones I have in mind particularly are an oil cooler, which in my view is a must, and sump baffling.  Originally, I only changed the cams, although an engine failure allowed me to incorporate some mods on a rebuild.  You can fit a modern oil cooler if you wish, although I had an original one, and I have located this beside the radiator.  I recall that there are guidelines in the Bluebook as to where you can locate an oil cooler.

So far as sump baffling is concerned, I had noticed that the pressure gauge dropped during a long corner.  It did seem that due to the extra grip oil surge was a problem, and Dave Edwards kindly gave me details of a sump baffle design that was easily made from sheet alloy and riveted in place.  This seems to work well though as yet I haven’t tried it in anger.  A few Fulvias did have slightly deeper sumps and a correspondingly deeper pickup and these parts are worth having in an ideal world if you can find them.  Needless to say a top quality fully synthetic oil is essential; I use Castrol RS (the 10/60 grade, 0/40 in my view being too thin).  Incidentally, a catch tank must be fitted, especially as the engine seems to throw a bit of oil out of the breather due to the high cornering forces.

You can change the pistons for high-compression ones, but I chose not to as they are quite expensive and although they increase power they may lead to unreliability.  You are permitted to balance the engine although Lancia did a very good job on that anyway so improvements are likely to be modest.  Incidentally, since the big end bearings wear quite quickly on a 1600 engine being raced it is worth taking the sump off every six races or so to check them.  Try to use only Vandervell or Clevite bearings.

Since you cannot change the inlet manifold or the carbs (though rejetting is permitted), getting increased gasflow is potentially going to be restricted by these items.  It is permitted to change the camshaft profiles, and this, together with a bit of head polishing (the cars, not yours) and matching the inlet and exhaust manifolds to the head is probably worthwhile once the driver is confident he can make use of the extra power as it can give a few bhp extra particularly in conjunction with a replacement performance exhaust manifold.

You can remove the air filter system although the best idea seems to be to remove the pipe off the front part and make a big inlet pipe to take cold air in from outside.  Changing the carburettor trumpets is also permitted and may improve things a little.  Naturally, removing the filter itself makes it sound fast, a very throaty roar being the result!

The rest of the exhaust system is relatively free, although there is a 105db noise limit at most race circuits and beware that at many track days the noise limit is lower.  If your car is above these, they won’t let you run at all (and your ears will be ringing by the time you get to the track).

You can also remove some weight from the car, although this is limited by the fact that the HSCC want the cars to look like road cars and therefore wholesale removal of items is not allowed.   Nevertheless, you may remove the passenger seat and seat belt, and you can also change the glass for Perspex except for the windscreen.  However, beware that one unfortunate soul changed the door windows for Perspex only to find that they sucked away from the seals at speed and let water in when it rained.  Carpets, on the whole, should remain except for the drivers side front carpet.  Any trim that would have to be damaged for fitment of safety gear can be removed.

It is surprising how much weight can be saved from a car just by removing lots of little things, although mine is still way over the minimum weight.  This is also obviously a cheaper way of enhancing performance than any other method.  Caution needs to be exercised not to over-lighten the car as there are minimum weights specified for each car, 916 kg in the case of the Fulvia, although the safety gear adds somewhat to the weight of the car.  Ballast is not permitted.

Although this is probably one of the most cost-effective ways of going racing, and offers a lot of fun for your money please be in no doubt that racing is expensive, so be sure you have planned a budget for your fun!  This budget relates to time as well as money, as there are seemingly endless things you can do to your car.

I’d also like to record my heartfelt thanks to the numerous people and companies who have helped me greatly with parts, advice and practical assistance.  They are too numerous to mention, but without their help my car would still probably be in pieces.
« Reply #1 on: 03 June, 2010, 10:47:52 PM »

Nice one Jai. Interesting read.
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