Nerd's Eye View: K-PAX Racing Volvo S60
Some people, especially MotoIQ readers, like doing things the hard way. After capturing the 2007 and 2008 driver's championships, 2008 manufacturer's championship, and amassing six wins, six poles, twenty six top fives, and thirty one top tens in the highly competitive Speed World Challenge GT series with their Porsche 911 GT3s, K-Pax racing decided it was time for a challenge. For the 2009 season, K-Pax partnered with Volvo – the company that brought you standard seatbelts, curtain and side airbags, and other safety items – to race the S60 in GT. Because when you think of alternatives to Dodge Vipers, Porsche 911s, and Corvettes, you immediately think of the Volvo S60. Randy Pobst of K-PAX, a MotoIQ reader and contributor, stays true to the MotoIQ spirit of doing things the hard way.
That's not to say the Volvo S60 is a slouch. Powered by a turbocharged 2.5L engine routed through a Haldex AWD system, the Volvo S60 was designed to compete with the sport sedans offered by other manufacturers. Volvo teamed with K-Pax to show that the S60 packed the punch necessary to compete with the sports sedans and cars featured in the Speed World Challenge GT class. What it lacked in slippery shape, it would make up for with exit traction and turbocharged torque.
The Speed World Challenge series is designed to get recognizable cars you and I could buy (pending funding, of course) to race each other on a relatively level playing field. By carefully scrutinizing the results of each race to consider how each vehicle's rule set is affecting its competitiveness, World Challenge rules makers are constantly striving to achieve parity. With the varied field, this is not an easy job as proved by the early dominance of the Cadillac CTS-V a number of years back. Rules makers limit weight, inlet restrictors, maximum RPMs and other modifications to keep things even. Still, all cars generally retain their inherent flaws and strengths to make for interesting tactics. The Corvettes and Vipers are well balanced and pretty good at higher speeds due to power and aerodynamics, the 911s are kings under braking and mid-late corner speed, and have one of the smaller frontal areas in the series, making speed towards the end of the straights a definite strength. The Volvo? Being the only AWD car in the series and toting prodigious turbocharged power to overcome sedan heft and comparative brickiness, the Volvo is the absolute king of the standing start and low speed corner exit. As car owner Jim Haughey aptly puts it: “P1, turn 1.”