Published: 31 May 2007

Pictured: HSV.

The HSV VXR has claimed a win on its motorsport debut at the NSW Dutton Rally held last weekend. The four-cylinder front-wheel drive HSV beat 160 other cars, including all-wheel drive rally cars, expensive European exotics and 450kW ‘supercars’ to claim an outright stage win, and finished fourth outright in the team handicap.

The Dutton Rally was held over three days in Queanbeyan, Goulburn and Sydney, with the $42,990 VXR competing in factory standard trim against modified road, rally and supercars, some up to 10 times the VXR’s price.

With 177kW from its turbocharged 2.0-litre 16v ECOTEC-4 engine, the VXR managed a 14.4 second quarter-mile time, lapped Wakefield Park in 1m:14.0, and Eastern Creek Raceway in 1m:55.7, where it reached over 200km/h down the main straight.

With two alternating drivers per entry, the pairing of Sydney motoring journalists Samantha Stevens and Dean Evans was impressively the highest finishing front-wheel drive team, the highest finishing HSV and the highest finishing car on street tyres.

But the weekend’s highlight for the HSV VXR was stage 26, a wet skidpan held at the Sutton Road driver training complex in Canberra. Evans managed a time that beat every car in the field - almost half of which were all-wheel drive. Testimony to the VXR’s ability in the dry or wet, the front-wheel drive HSV claimed not only the 1st place trophy; Stevens also placed 8th outright from the 161 cars on the same stage.

Evans explained his strategy: “The VXR’s torque in second gear really helped. We were on road tyres, but so were about 20 others. There was a drying line around the outside, but I chose a shorter path and used the tyres and torque to our advantage. Even with the ESP deactivated, the power was easy to control.”

Stevens was equally impressed: “I just tried to be smooth and careful. I think it showed that this much power can be fast even in the wet if you drive it properly.”

Though most of the field ran on competition-derived R-compound semi-slicks, the VXR ran Yokohama Advan Sport road tyres on the factory HSV 19-inch alloys.

Around the racetracks, the VXR was equally at home. “I saw about 203km/h at the Creek,” recalled Evans. “The stiff chassis, predictable handling and great brakes made the VXR easy to drive fast and considering it’s completely standard, I think it performed remarkably well.”

Over 36 stages from hill-climbs to airport dashes, motorkhanas and circuit sprints, the HSV VXR performed flawlessly to compete with and even beat some of the world’s fastest cars from Porsche, Nissan, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

Don’t delay – test drive a HSV VXR today and you too can experience the thrills of the hatch that has taken Europe by storm. Samantha and Dean will be back driving the blue ‘pocket rocket’ for the WA leg of the Dutton Rally in July. Stay tuned for further updates…

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