Famed race driver Ryan Millen has adopted a hell of a challenge for 2016! Race to win in a front-wheel-drive RAV4 SE using a bone-stock 2.5-liter four-cylinder making just 176 horsepower.
Millen and his co-pilot (fiancé Christine!) seem like the perfect ambassadors for a Rav4 racing adventure. He will man the controls as she co-drives with extremely detailed trail notes all along the way. Such limited power and traction in the 2WD-Open Class take much of the mechanical innovations out of the normal WRC race calculus. The races then become much more about driver skill, unbreakable reliability and extreme co-driver directions.
Similar to a ‘nice little saturday’ run to CostCo? A bit! Except totally sideways the whole time, covered in mud/rock/sand, and with a giant roll cage in place of Georgia peach boxes full of family-size mayo, chips and muffins.
The RAV4 Rally car won four in five of its competitions in 2015 — hot on the heels of Millen’s baja glory in 2014 with the Tundra PRD Pro.
2016 Toyota RAV4 SE Preview
2016 Toyota RAV4 RALLY CAR
Rally RAV4 Racing Program Poised to Win
CHICAGO (Feb. 11, 2016) — The Toyota RAV4 that Ryan Millen piloted last year to four out of five Western U.S. victories is about to take an even bigger stage.
This year Toyota and Millen of the famed Millen family of racing legends will take their rally racing all over the U.S., from California to New York to Michigan just to name a few stops along the action-packed race schedule.
Millen and Toyota will chase both the Atlantic Rally Cup and the Pacific Rally Cup in NASA’s Rally Sport series. The team will also be vying for the National Championship.
Just last month, Ryan netted a solid second place finish in Rally America’s Sno*Drift Rally, a great lead-up to the upcoming season. Speaking of Rally America (RA), the team will also compete in other select RA races for 2016.
“Last year was an amazing opportunity for me with Toyota,” said Millen. “This year is truly like a dream come true, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show what the RAV4 and I are really made of.”
Interestingly, Ryan’s navigator, Christine Fate, is also his fiancé. Trust is one of the most important things a driver can ask for in a navigator, so having Christine back this season should prove to be a real asset.
This year, Millen and Fate will campaign a RAV4 SE, new for the 2016 model year. The vehicle also receives revised livery highlighting new partners Toyota Certified Used Vehicles and JBL. Millen’s refreshed vehicle was unveiled today at the Chicago Auto Show.
Toyota has not made any powertrain modifications, as the rally car is powered by a stock RAV4 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 176 horsepower and 172 pounds-feet of torque. The crossover was built to compete in the 2WD-Open Class so it is fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission that spins the front wheels only.
Most modifications are safety, communications, and convenience related. They include such items as a stout roll cage, driver/navigator comm. system, and air vents and helmet boxes.
Prior to driving the Rally RAV4 last year, Millen won his class in the 2014 Baja 1000 in a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.
“This year we are stepping up our racing as well as our marketing efforts to expose a whole new audience to rally racing and the RAV4,” explained Kibo Kitahama, national manager, vehicle marketing and communications. “It’s going to be a wild ride, but we’re thrilled to see our RAV4 SE take on all the twists, turns, and terrain that Ryan and life can throw at it.”
The team’s first NASA Rally Sport race of the season will take place on March 5 in Cheraw, South Carolina at the Sandblast Rally where over 60 cars and nearly 40 motorcycles are entered.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
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