The Abarth 124 rally 2019. The Spider with the scorpion badge has been revised to keep defending its leadership status in rallying
The spider with the scorpion badge has been revised, implementing the experience gained over the first two racing seasons and the continuous development work of the Abarth team.
Over 5,000 kilometres of testing were performed to improve performance, handling, and make the car even easier to tune.
Many aspects of the Abarth 124 rally 2019 have been addressed with the objective of bettering the time per kilometre in special stages. This goal was achieved by the Abarth engineers by means of targeted operations on the main mechanical components as well as the engine electronics, the transmission-gearbox and the setup.
Plenty of data was collected during the first two racing seasons of the 124 rally in addition to the practical field experience. The continuous development work carried out by the Abarth engineering team and, last but not least, the major contribution of test driver and pilot Alex Fiorio complemented the experience of the previous two years of racing. A further 5,000 kilometres of simulated tests were clocked up, in addition to the distance already travelled in actual rallies, utilising the same roads where many of the challenging special stages are run.
The goal was to provide customers with a better performing race car, which is simpler to tune and at the same time easier to drive, perfect for professional and gentleman drivers alike, who in the spider seek the typical drifting pleasure of rear-wheel drive cars in rallies, in addition to performance at its best.
The main operations concerned the following areas:
- The main job was to improve delivery by means of targeted actions to make torque curve more linear. The torque curve is today fuller at all RPMs, particularly when power from low speeds is needed, which is a typical when coming out of hairpin bends at a low rpm for instance, while making driving more effective and simpler, allowing non-professional drivers to perform at their best. The power delivery improvement is the result of a careful calibration which promotes smoothness and prompter throttle response.
- The transmission department focused on the differential, with a new locking calibration and four mappings (High/Medium/Low Grip, Wet) on the Traction Control System, which can be quickly selected by the driver on the steering wheel and which adjust engine torque delivery to maximise it according to grip conditions. In this way, the driver can intervene quickly according to their needs by changing the response of the car to the changing grip conditions, fast and precisely, on any terrain.
- The gearbox was also targeted to improve manoeuvrability and shifting speed. In particular, the pneumatic actuator was adjusted to allow faster gear engagement in acceleration and more calibrated, smoother downshifting to prevent rear axle locking.
Nevertheless, rear wheel locking, typical of rally driving, is possible by using the hand brake, which is even more effective as a result of the optimised transmission declutching and its subsequent calibrated insertion in traction for prompter take-offs.
Setup - Having a good feeling with the car and being able to adjust the setup is crucial for drivers. For this reason, Abarth worked on all components improving the grip on tarmac and providing a kit for use on gravel roads.
The antidive effect was also revised. The car now has a positive pitching effect while braking which provides better feeling to the driver and facilitates the progressive braking while improving cornering at the same time. All specific aspects were further developed to achieve an optimal overall result, which drivers can also customise to suit their own driving style and the type of course.
Gravel kit - The development work also focused on the car setup for gravel roads by creating a special kit which includes all the components needed for taking on this type of surface. A specific gravel road kit is now available which includes ground clearance increased by 40 mm, with a consequent increase in the suspension travel, needed to maintain constant contact between tyres even on the rougher terrain and for better traction and road holding. The gravel road kit also includes brake discs compatible with specific 15-inch alloy wheel (instead of 18-inch wheels used on tarmac) to reduce the unsprung weight to optimise grip on particularly rough terrain.
The tarmac and gravel tyres are the same size as required by R5 (and WRC) category regulations to be able to take advantage of the wide range of commercially available compounds.
FCA and Trade Unions Renew Labor Agreement for Italian Employees
(CCSL), which expired 31 December 2018, with the trade unions FIM-CISL, UILM-UIL, FISMIC, UGLM and AQCFR. The agreement, which is valid for the four-year period 2019-2022, applies to the 66,000 Group employees in Italy.
The agreement provides for a 2% annual increase in contractual compensation and an enhancement of the annual performance-based bonus linked to the achievement of productivity and efficiency targets forming part of the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) program.
In addition to compensation, the new agreement includes three other key elements:
enhancements to the company's benefits system, including consolidation of the flexible benefits program and strengthening of the supplementary pension and healthcare schemes
completion of the system of representation which, with the positive experience of the past four years, not only represents a reference model for dialogue with the trade unions, but has also become integral to the Group's industrial approach in Italy
definition of the simplified classification system introduced on an experimental basis with the previous contract renewal
Pietro Gorlier, Chief Operating Officer for FCA's EMEA Region, commented: "Today's agreement - together with the industrial plan for Italy which, with a great sense of responsibility, we confirmed in the past few days - represents a further commitment to all Group employees in Italy and to the country as a whole. We believe this creates the conditions necessary to best address the challenges we face over the next few years. We are confident that everyone will do their part."
2019 Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix - Qualifying - Saturday
Weather: FP3: sunny and dry, 22-24°C air, 43-46°C track; Qualifying: sunny and dry, 23°C air, 34-39°C track
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
"Overall, the qualifying was a good one. While Antonio showed a very strong performance in Q1, Kimi delivered a strong performance in Q2. Our pace has been promising so far and we are confident of our potential to have a good result in the race. The team is optimistic and collaborating well. We will push to bring home the first points of the season tomorrow."
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 02/Ferrari) Qualifying: 9th in Q3 (1:22.314 / soft (C4) tyres)
3rd practice: 17th (1:24.402 / soft (C4) tyres / 18 laps)
"Am I happy? Yes and no. I'm a bit disappointed, as I think there is more in the car and we could have ended further up, but I never really put a lap together. Now let's get through the first two corners of the race without incidents and then take it from there."
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 03/Ferrari) Qualifying: 14th in Q2 (1:22.714 / soft (C4) tyres)
3rd practice: 12th (1:23.831 / soft (C4) tyres / 16 laps)
"The qualifying was ok. I put together quite a good lap in Q1. In Q2, the warm-up lap in my last run did not go as well. A small mistake costs you quite a bit of time in such a tight midfield. We have a good car and race pace and will have the chance to fight for points in the race tomorrow. The strategy will be important as it is quite challenging to overtake on this circuit. I will do my best to have a positive result for the team."
2019 FIA Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix – Race – Sunday
Weather: sunny and dry, 23-24°C air, 37-44°C track
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG:
"For the first race of the season, it was an ok race. We had some small issues which we could not have anticipated and both drivers put up a good fight. We are returning home with 4 points, which is a positive. To start the season with one car in the top ten is a good achievement and we will push hard to score some more points at the next Grand Prix in Bahrain."
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 02/Ferrari) Result: 8th. Start on soft (C4) tyres, after 12 laps change to medium (C3) tyres
"Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there is not much you can do. It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it's still very hard to overtake. In addition, we had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that's why we had to pit earlier than planned. But as I said, the car has a lot of speed and it felt good, so I'm looking forward to the race in Bahrain."
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing C38 (Chassis 03/Ferrari) Result: 15th. Start on medium (C3) tyres, after 27 laps change to soft (C4) tyres
"It was a tough race. I picked up some damage to my car on lap 1 and after that it was challenging to stay up to speed. There were some battles and I did my best to defend my position. It was only the first race of the season, so I look forward to fighting for a stronger result in Bahrain."
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) closed February with European sales of more than 80,200 vehicles and market share increasing to 7.0%, from 5.9% in January.
Jeep posted a 35.5% year-over-year increase in sales with all models posting strong gains. Sales of the Wrangler were up 170.2% year-over-year, Cherokee +121.8%, Compass +33.4%, Grand Cherokee +30.7% and Renegade +27.2%.
The Fiat Panda maintains its leadership in the European A segment with a 17.1% share and a 21.2% year-over-year increase in sales.
Lancia repeated January's record performance posting the highest sales growth of any brand in Europe (+38.4%), while the Lancia Ypsilon posted a 47.1% year-over-year increase in sales for the first two months of the year.
FCA registered total sales of more than 80,200 vehicles in a weak market, and market share increased to 7.0%, from 5.9% in January. For the two months year-to-date, Group sales totaled more than 152,900 vehicles with market share at 6.4%.
Notable results In Spain - where Group sales were up 9.3% compared to an average decline of 9.1% for the industry - and for the Fiat Panda, which continues to be leader in the European A segment, the Jeep brand and the Lancia Ypsilon.
The Group continued its strategy, adopted several months ago, of optimizing sales with a focus on the retail, true fleet and long-term rental channels.
Results by Brand
Jeep posted a 35.5% year-over-year increase in sales to nearly 16,300 vehicles with market share 0.4 percentage points higher at 1.4%. Year-to-date, brand sales totaled nearly 28,700 vehicles (+16.5%) with market share at 1.2% (+0.2 p.p.).
The brand significantly outperformed the industry in nearly all major markets. Sales were up 37.6% in Italy, 15.0% in Germany, 10.5% in UK and 90.0% in Spain.
All brand models posted significant increases with sales up 170.2% for the Wrangler, 121.8% for the Cherokee, 33.4% for the Compass, 30.7% for the Grand Cherokee and 27.2% for the Renegade.
Alfa Romeo posted February sales of more than 4,300 vehicles and market share was 0.4%. Year-to-date, brand sales totaled 9,200 vehicles and market share was 0.4%.
In Spain, the brand posted a 23.2% increase in sales for the month.
Fiat sales in February totaled 53,300 vehicles and market share was 4.6%. Year-to-date, brand sales totaled nearly 101,600 vehicles accounting for a 4.3% share of the market.
Panda continued as leader in the European A segment with nearly 16,300 vehicles sold in February (17.1% segment share) and 34,400 vehicles sold for the year-to-date (17.1% segment share). Sales of the Panda were up 21.2% in February and 21.6% for the year-to-date. Positive result also for the 500, which was second in the A segment. Together, the Panda and 500 held a 30.3% segment share.
Lancia posted a record 38.4% increase with sales totaling more than 5,800 vehicles for the month. Market share was up 0.1 percentage points to 0.5%. Sales of the Ypsilon (leader in the Italian B segment) were up 38.7% for the month and 47.1% for the year-to-date.
Abarth wins the Auto Bild "Best Brands" competition
Abarth prevails in the "Design" category for the first time.
Abarth 595 and Abarth 695 heads the "Design" ranking in the "Mini Cars" class.
Abarth 124 spider wins the "Convertibles up to 50,000 Euro" category.
As in 2018, Abarth is among the winners of the "Best Brands" competition of the famous German automotive magazine Auto Bild. The news this year is the overall victory of Abarth in the "Design" category across all car classes. This resounding success was followed by a further two wins in the "Design" category. Once again, readers voted the Abarth 595 and Abarth 695 as best in the "Mini Car", while the Abarth 124 spider repeated last year's success in the "Convertibles up to 50,000 Euro" class. This triple victory is the best demonstration of the inimitable personality that makes the cars with the Scorpion badge immediately recognisable on every day roads.
"We are proud to have earned the favour of the readers of the Auto Bild specialist magazine once again and particularly to have won the best design title in the overall standings for the first time", declared Luca Napolitano, Head of EMEA Fiat and Abarth brands. "This important recognition joins the prizes already reaped in these first months of the year, starting from the title of 'Best Car' in the 'Imported Mini Car' category awarded to Abarth 595 by the readers of Auto Motor und Sport magazine for the fourth time in a row. These prestigious accolades make the 70th anniversary of the brand even more special. The legend of the brand with the Scorpion badge started on 31 March 1949 and is as fascinating as ever still today. We will be celebrating this milestone with the new "70th Anniversary" range on the 595 and 124 and with the recent 595 esseesse and 124 Rally Tribute that debuted in Geneva".
Now in its eighth year, the Auto Bild "Best Brands 2019" competition involved readers of the printed and online editions of the magazine, who expressed the reasons motivating their purchasing decisions in the automotive, accessories, parts and services sectors. More in detail, 38 major brands were evaluated in 14 model classes, from small cars to convertibles and SUVs, according to a number of evaluation criteria that focused on design, quality, value for money, image and service.