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MOPAR'S CHARGER DRIFT CAR BUILDUP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Center Line, Mich. - When Team Mopar decided to campaign the Mopar Dodge Charger in Formula D Drift competition in 2006, it went in with the knowledge that it wouldn't be a simple task. Transforming a Dodge Charger chassis into a drift car that Samuel Hubinette could pilot to another Formula D championship hasn't been easy, but it's a challenge that Team Mopar has faced head-on.

"This wasn't a typical project," said Eric Vickerman, the SRT (DaimlerChrysler's Street and Racing Technology division) engineer heading up the Mopar Dodge Charger project. "We had a lot of challenges. This is the first-ever attempt at a race car based on the SRT8 Charger platform. We are really breaking new ground, and under a tight deadline. It's hard work, but everyone who worked on the project at SRT enjoyed the challenge."

One of the main challenges for the SRT group was to trim the fat out of the Charger.

"We did quite a bit to get the weight down," explained Vickerman. "The street Charger clocks in at about 4,100 lbs. To cut weight, we removed the interior for the largest weight savings, and replaced the body panels with carbon fiber panels. Replacing the glass with polycarbonate also significantly lowered the weight."

Another challenge was the disparity between the Charger and the Viper SRT10 that Hubinette piloted to a runner-up finish in the 2005 Formula D Series.

"They're not similar at all. Everything is different," Vickerman said. "The weight, the length, the engine, the starting platform, everything is different. We really had to start from scratch. It was not easy. We didn't have a lot of reference for what we were doing. That was probably one of the greatest obstacles."

Vickerman and his group made do with the little info they had.

"We worked with Formula D in the off-season to answer our questions, as we built the Charger," said Vickerman. "When it came to the suspension, we had three previous events from which to draw data and driver feedback. SRT competed in the One Lap of America with a Chrysler 300C (based on the same platform as the Charger), which gave us about 5,000 miles of development, and we also had two cars (the 300C and Charger) compete in the Targa Newfoundland event, racking up another 2,800 miles. All this feedback and data was invaluable to the suspension development."

Another major factor in overcoming the buildup obstacles was the help and input of driver Hubinette and the NuFormz Racing team, led by owner Shaun Carlson.

"We've really worked hand-in-hand with NuFormz," Vickerman said. "With Shaun's job description changing [after being named to pilot the Mopar/SRT Pro Stock car], we agreed to help out with building the Mopar Dodge Charger. Shaun came out to the SRT headquarters early in the year and we reviewed the entire project. His contributions of input and data have been invaluable. We had a lot of feedback from Sam, and e-mailed back and forth. We had his input on the seats, the steering, and the seatbelts. We also developed the roll cage specifically to accommodate tricks that Samuel performs, such as hanging out the door while drifting, without compromising the integrity of the car."

Phase II of the Mopar Dodge Charger buildup is currently in progress, as Carlson and the NuFormz Racing team take the baton from SRT and finish up the final work on the Charger. Hubinette and the NuFormz Racing team will aim to debut the Charger at the first Formula D event of the season at Long Beach, Calif., on April 2.

For more info on Mopar, Hubinette or the Need For Speed Underground Formula Drift Series, log on to www.moparspeed.com, www.mopar.com, www.samuelhubinette.com or www.formulad.com.

Mopar is based in Center Line, Mich., and is the exclusive original equipment supplier of parts and accessories for Chrysler, Dodge and JeepR vehicles.

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