Competition improves the breed, they always say.. and although we didn’t specifically set out to make a range of race-ready wheels, it looks like our continual pursuit of quality and cutting-edge production methods may have inadvertently created one. Guest blogger Paul Cowland picks up the tale…
Which red-blooded enthusiast doesn’t want to go motor racing? Endless bouts of Gran Turismo may satisfy the itch for a short while, and for the more mature readers, you could always fetch the Scalextric out of the loft – but in reality, if your budget can stretch to it, little beats piling into the first corner of a ‘wheel-to-wheel’ race, amongst 30-or-so of your friends and competitors – and wondering if you’re all going to fit.
I decided to follow my boyhood dreams of being a racing driver about 5 years ago. Keen to keep things sensible and achievable, budget wise, I migrated towards low-cost, high-thrills series like the Project 8 racing Saloons, Civic Cup and more latterly, the Mk2 Golf GTi Championship. As its name suggests, the last one of these three caters for race-prepped examples of Wolfsburg’s iconic hatch in GTI trim, and you can take it from me, it’s an absolute hoot.
Like any form of motorsport, the opportunity is there, should you wish, to spend ruinous amount of money prepping a car to almost BTCC-esque levels of refinement and finish, but tight regs and limited scope on mods also mean that plenty of home-brewed superstars can also shine through in cars they have prepped and fabbed themselves on budgets that are far more realistic. In short, it’s a superb mix of ages, talents, budgets and abilities.
One of the mods that is allowed however, is the choice of wheels. As long as they are no bigger than 7×15” and roughly equivalent to factory offset, you can pretty much run any one-piece design you like. Many plump for super-expensive race wheels from well-known outlets. The key to this decision usually is weight. Both race and road cars drive and respond much more positively if you can reduce the rotating mass of the spinning wheel. Not only does it reduce the overall weight of the car, but a lighter wheel also has a better steering response.
Three seasons ago I bought a set of the Calibre Motion 2 wheels. I looked the look of them. I liked the weight of them, too! And, while nobody ever promised me that they were designed to be ‘competition spec’ rims, the quality of the castings, heat treatment and quality paint finish suggested that they might be more than up to the job. Three years, 50 races and thousands of kerb-crunches later, you would have to say that they undoubtedly were!
My most recent race at Donington Park last weekend saw them dragged out of the shed to receive the new series Dunlop control tyres. Still wearing their factory paint, even after all that crazy competition brake pad dust, they still looked pretty smart. And, as we fitted the tyres and balanced them all up, each one revealed itself to be perfectly true, despite the kind of abuse that would make a touring car wince.
So, have the Calibre boys changed their tack? Are they calling them ‘Motorsport’ wheels yet? Doesn’t look like it. As far as they’re concerned, they’re just ‘road wheel’ quality and approved and sold as such. But take it from me, and the many tracks around the UK that have tried to break them – and failed, these are seriously strong rims. And, if they ever bring a ‘true’ race rim out, you can expect me to be first in the queue!
Author: Paul Cowland
Photography: Rich Sams Photography
Source: Wheelwright Blog