As the ARB Australian Off-Road Racing Championship draws to a close for another year, we thought it would be high time to catch up with long-time Toyo Tyres affiliate driver Danny Brown on the success that he enjoyed at the final round of the season, and the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with motorsport at such a high level.
“With Off-Road Racing, you’re battling all the normal stress of conventional motorsport, with the added variables of constantly-changing terrain and extreme temperatures,” begins Danny of the pressure cooker environment he, his team and his fellow competitors face.
As well as environmental factors, there’s also the stress they’re putting their machines under, demanding that they perform on the ragged edge of reliability as teams look to extract every ounce of performance, and find the competitive edge. From small parts failures like serpentine belts or sensors through to catastrophic engine failures, Danny and the team weathered it all in 2023.
“We qualified 1st at every event this year, and heading into Round 3 at Goondiwindi we were looking really strong. Unfortunately, we lost oil pressure whilst in the lead and had to withdraw. The team then brought the car home for a huge overhaul - new engine, new transmission and a big service, meaning we were heading into the Millicent round with essentially a brand new, untested car,” Danny explains.
The vehicles themselves are an engineering marvel - a twin turbo V6 engine retrofitted from Nissan’s R35 GT-R supercar that has been destroked using a custom crankshaft to fit within the class rules. This mates to an Albins transaxle transmission, with everything controlled by a suite of MoTeC engine management hardware. “It makes just under 1,000hp on E85 and uses a litre of fuel every 600m!” laughs Danny.
The final round of the season could have tested Danny and the team, however the freshly overhauled car performed flawlessly and Danny drove it all the way to Top Qualifier and ultimately to victory. “We never looked back the whole weekend, we just put fuel in and checked the tyres,” he boasts of the reliability he and the team have managed to exact from the car.
One surprising element to Off-Road Racing is the tyre management strategy, which casual observers may associate more with racing on a sealed surface, however Danny explains that the science is just as applicable to unsealed surfaces.
“Thanks to our tyre management we’ve managed to complete the whole season on two sets of tyres! They have everything thrown at them in the harshest conditions you could imagine!” he beams.
“The terrain is so varied - you’ve got white metal roads, sand, bitumen and mud. It really tests the tyres, but I make a point of not sliding on the rocks or accelerating too hard and we get really good life out of our tyres as a result,” he explains.
Danny Brown won his first Off-Road Racing Championship on Toyo tyres in 2013 and has been racing on the 37in Open Country M/T-R racing tyre ever since.
Pic credit: Clutch Life Media