Let’s face it, we all know the modest Toyota Rav4 can take a beating, even if it is the darling of careful soccer moms everywhere. But starting June 13th at the Idaho Rally, the quiet little car that could will get a shot at proving it’s rugged glory when BAJA 1000 winner Ryan Millen takes a run at six Rally America competitions in a modified Rav4 in the 2WD class.
Yes, you read that right. A Rav4 will compete at Rally America. You can wipe your screen off now.
The competition, based in Williston, VT, is an eight-event championship consisting of races across the United States, from Portland, OR to Newry, ME. Reminiscent of a Top Gear challenge, contestants alter their cars, which still need to be street-legal, to make them lighter and faster. The modified cars are raced over rugged terrain for hundreds of miles, looking as awesome as possible while racing to the finish line, from snow in Michigan in January, to jumps in the Californian deserts.
To successfully compete in the Rally America, in which speed is everything and shaving milliseconds off your time can mean first-place glory or last place, the Rav4 had to go on a diet. More than 500 pounds were removed from the number 99 vehicle, stripped down by removing the interior and seats, and replacing them with a single, light-weight bucket seat. The door panels, rear seat, and headliner were removed as well. A roll-cage was added, in case the Rav 4 flips while driving 100 miles per hour over uneven ground, and the 17-inch steel tires were replaced with lighter, 15-inch alloy rims with BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, according to Digital Trends.
“I’ve driven just about everything Toyota has to offer. I’ve been very impressed with the RAV4‘s tight, compact body and smooth handling. I’m looking forward to putting it through the paces this season,” Millen told Left Lane News.
Toyota hasn’t made any mechanical adjustments, and the Rav4 will compete with the original 176 horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, although the six-speed automatic transmission was altered to spin the front wheels only, to better accommodate it to the all-natural terrain.
This isn’t the first time Millen raced a Toyota. At BAJA 1000, he won the Full Size Stock class in a Tundra TRD Pro. And even though there’s speculation that he’s being paid by Toyota to compete the Rav4, that still doesn’t distract from the awesomeness of seeing the unassuming Rav4 at a Rally America race.
[Image from YouTube]