Homologation. Stupid word. Responsible for some of the most exciting cars ever to have turned a wheel, and yet ‘homologation.’ You can’t abbreviate it (go on, try), you can’t make it sound sexy or cool (again, have a go—maybe attempt a French accent), and it’s bloody hard to even describe to people what it is. Don’t try. Seriously, just say ‘road racer’ or ‘rally replica’ and move on, change the subject. Do not get into what I’m about to go into. That way lies nothing but social pariahdom.
Let me be your guide. And, to compound your pain, I’m going to start with a lesson. I know, back-to-school time, although here, the three Rs are ‘racing,’ ‘road cars,’ and ‘regulations.’ Now let’s do some ’rithmetic and write each at the corner of an equilateral triangle. Look, they’re in balance. Pull one corner away from the others and—argh, isosceles. What I’m getting at with my terrifyingly loose grip on education is this: Regulations exist to keep road and racing in balance. Let racing loose and costs spear upwards and—let’s introduce a fourth ‘R’ here—relevance declines.
In basic terms, this is what happens: The regulators tell the firms that in order for them to compete in whatever class, they’ll need to build X number of road cars. Now, the race/rally cars can be further modified, but certain things won’t be able to be changed—chassis, engine block, bodyshell, suspension pickup points, maybe.