We get technical with the great folks at GZB Rally Team, and get to know what makes their rally team click!
Greg's car: 2011 Subaru STI
Facebook & Instagram: GZB Rally Team
Engine & Drive train: GZB Rally Team built engine package for Rally America National Limited Open Class with 34mm restrictor, 6 speed sequential gear box with rally optimized gears ratios, 1.5 way front LSD and 2 way rear LSD, Twin disc clutch, Up-rated HD axles, stand alone ECU (anti-lag, launch control, flat foot shift) and diff controller with 5 select-able custom driver defined rally maps, custom built stainless steel turbo back exhaust.
Wheels/Tires/Suspension: 5 way adjustable rally suspension with 60mm pistons and 10" total travel, fully adjustable tube links, reinforced sub-frames, 15" Method Race Wheels MR502 VT-Spec, DMack DMG2 Gravel Tires.
Exterior: S14 WRC carbon fiber rear spoiler, roof vent and mirrors, Lexan windows, WRC LED night time lighting, kevlar wheel well liners, aramid under body, and aluminum front and rear skid plates.
Interior: FIA Homologated roll cage, lightened, seam welded and plated chassis, custom made carbon fiber dash board, center console, door cards, foot plates, and spare tire carrier, floor mounted peddle box with front and rear bias adjustment, stainless steel brake hard lines and stainless steel braided fuel lines, FIA certified race seats with 6-point harnesses, carbon fiber hydraulic hand brake, in car push button fire suppression system.
Tell us a little about yourself: I am the owner and driver of GZB Rally Team. By day I am a mechanical engineer and by night I build rally cars. Rally is my passion, and I have worked very hard to make this dream a reality for the past 10 years. Growing up as a kid, I remember watching the World Rally Championship on TV, and this is where my obsession began. Ever since then, most of my interests and hobbies revolved around rally and cars in some way. As I grew older I began racing local rally crosses, auto crosses, and ice racing events to gain valuable seat time and refining the skills necessary for my ultimate goal to start rally racing. After that, I began building my first dedicated rally car in my parents garage and the fun continued from then on. One of my other passions besides rally is traveling and visiting new places. The thrill of the unknown is something that always interests me and draws me to traveling.
GZB Rally Team consists of two individuals, me and my girlfriend/co-driver Ela Dziubanski. Every build we do, we do together! We work great as a team; I would consider this my "dream team". We do everything in house from welding to fabrication, assembly to paint, and even motor and gear box builds! Since we do everything ourselves we take great pride in our work and this motivates us to do the utmost quality work. Each build is a step up from the last, and we always strive to develop new ideas and concepts.
How did you and Ela meet? It’s a funny story actually. I had a race with my co-driver at the time in Minnesota and it was during the time in my career where I was getting significantly faster at each event. Ela and her friends volunteered to come and help us with service on the car. It was her first time at a rally and she had no idea what rally even was. The event went awesome, and we finished 1st in class and 2nd overall. Throughout the event my co-driver was having motion sickness issues because of the high speeds, so basically at the end of the event he decided not to continue as my co-driver because he said I was too fast for him. I was stuck without a co-driver for the next event, but that's when Ela caught the rally bug and she asked me a few weeks later if I would consider giving her a chance to be my co-driver. I saw this as a really good opportunity to teach her how I like the notes delivered and basically since she was fresh she didn't have the bad habits as some co-drivers do. The next event was only a few weeks away so we spent a lot of time together practicing notes and learning the skills of being a co-driver. At our first event together she did amazing and caught on quick. We continued to spend a lot of time together, and I began to notice how amazing she really is until I finally built up the courage to ask her out and the rest is history. Since we share so many common interests it makes our relationship really strong and I'm one hell of a lucky guy!
How did you get into building cars?
Ever since I was young, I always enjoyed working on cars. I started by learning to rebuild engines and transmissions on my own cars. Then I began to learn the skills necessary to build a rally car because I had a minimal budget that did not allow me to pay someone to build a car for me. I had to learn to do everything on my own from welding, fabricating, as well as creating the perfect engine and drive train combination. The whole process takes a lot of time and Patience but it has allowed me to learn and enjoy working on each build.
What is your dream car? You're looking at it! It's my rally car!
What are your future plans for the car, and what do you like to do with it? Our current/future plan with this car is to push hard and win the Rally America National Championship.
What's your favorite thing about your car? Every part of the car is my favorite because it is very well balanced in every way from its power to its strength and reliability. When I push the car to its limits down gravel roads around tight corners, I feel very confident and comfortable doing it, which I feel is a very important part of building and successfully racing a rally car.
Why rally? I chose rally because I feel that rally is the purest form of motorsport, no two turns are the same. The surface conditions are constantly changing and the trust between the driver and co-driver have to be 100% to be successful. It’s the ongoing challenge that makes rally exciting not only for us as competitors, but also for the fans.
Do you eat Wheaties or Corn Flakes? Neither, I eat oatmeal every morning. ;-)
What is your car like to drive? This car is really a monster of its own, but is utter enjoyment to drive! The raw mechanical feel of this car is amazing. You can feel and hear everything in this car working and performing its duties, thus it really makes a day and night difference from driving a stock street car. From the moment you turn on the fuel and ignition you hear the fuel pump whining, when you pull/push the gear lever you feel the dog gears engage, and when you are driving the straight cut gears whine as you pull through each gear. Complimenting all that, you hear the engine and exhaust note and it really becomes a symphony in my ears! To top it all off, once the launch control or anti lag is engaged, the exhaust popping and shooting flames always puts a smile on my face
What was your inspiration or objective with this build?
My inspiration for this build was my girlfriend/ co-driver, Ela Dziubanski. Her motivation, determination and patience is what pushed me to build another rally car that is more powerful that allows us to keep progressing as a team. She has been by my side throughout the whole build while learning her own new skills along the way. Our main objective with this build is to show others that not everyone needs to have an unlimited budget with a huge team to compete nationally with great results. All it takes is motivation, determination and the will to learn new skills.
Why did you choose a Subaru? I chose a Subaru because it is the perfect rally platform from the weight balance to the all-wheel drive; you have a great starting platform right from the factory.
What was your first car? 2001 Subaru 2.5 RS
What makes your car special to you? This car is special to me because I built the car from the ground up so I have a personal relationship with every nut, bolt, and wire that make up this car.
How did you decide to build your own car? There are a few reasons why I chose to build my own car. Most importantly was that I wanted to do everything myself and learn from the experience. I now know every single inch of that car. This is very valuable when it comes to troubleshooting or making improvements because I don’t have to guess what someone else has done. I also enjoy thinking of new ways and making new things to make the car better, faster, stronger, and pushing innovations in technology while incorporating it in the car. I am a mechanical engineer so that’s a given ;-). Another huge driving factor in building my own car was finances. I simply couldn’t afford to go buy a ready built rally car that was up to my standards, it simply wasn’t possible. But I learned very fast that I could build one for significantly less of the cost since I don’t have to pay someone labor, which is where most of the cost skyrockets. Some determination and willingness to learn and you can accomplish anything you want, and this car is a true testament!
Why did you choose the GR platform instead the old GD body Subarus? We chose the hatch body simply because we loved the aggressive look of the car that is basically offered stock from the factory. The wide body and aggressive body lines really make the car pop and give it that rally feel. Another factor was the appeal the car offered to potential sponsors. Its a newer car, and people like to see the newest and the best there is out there, and are more willing to put their name on the car because of that.
Biggest cost factor of the build; time, money, travel, etc. Everything above! It really comes down to a balance of time, money, and travel expenses. You have to set yourself a realistic budget and stick to it because if you can build the most expensive car, but then if you can't afford to race it or get it to races then what’s the point? So you really have to think and plan ahead of what you can realistically afford.
Any memorable moments with your car that you would like to share? The whole build has been memorable, something we will never forget. But our main highlight so far is going to our first event a few weeks ago at the Rally American Sno*Drift Rally and finishing 3rd on the National NLO podium without any prior testing with the car as well as a handful of issues that we had to overcome leading up to the event.
What is involved with preparing for a rally? Preparing for a rally involves going over the whole car and checking everything over. Fixing anything that got beat up from the previous event, improving anything that can function better, and most of all, going through the entire car to eliminate any issues that can cause a mechanical DNF at the next event. Preventing any mechanical issues is very important to us because we are a small team, and we don’t have the service support as the bigger teams do. By eliminating anything that can potentially cause problems, it allows us to concentrate 100% on the task at hand during the event instead of worrying if parts will break. We also take the opportunity to do set up changes to the car depending on what event we are running, things like spring rates, sway bars, suspension adjustment, and engine tuning. Everything gets optimized for each event and the conditions.
What makes up deciding a tire for an event – dirt vs gravel vs snow? It basically comes down to the surface we will be racing on, the ambient temperature, and any variations of changes in the surface. Rally tires come in many different compounds, tread patterns, and temperature ratings. For a colder temperature rally, like 100 Acre Woods for example which is generally a smooth rally, you want a soft or medium tire compound with asymmetric tread pattern to give maximum traction and lateral grip. But a rocky rally in the middle of summer you will want a hard compound tire that will withstand the rough road conditions as well reduce wear at higher temperatures. Snow tires are in a class of their own since here in the US we cannot use studded tired during rally events. Some creative tire modifications are necessary to achieve better traction. There aren't many rally snow tires, so we opt for modified street snow tires. For example, when we ran Snow Drift Rally this past January we had three sets of tires that we modified for specific conditions. One set we put large blocks into the tread pattern to maximize deep snow traction, the second set we tractionized for maximum ice traction, and third set we slightly modified as an all-around tire. One down side to using a street snow tire in a rally is the lack of a thick side wall to protect the tire from coming off the bead. As a result we use inner tubes inside the tires which give us the side wall support plus we are able to run the tires at a lower tire pressure to maximize traction.
Are there any sorts of rituals that you do when you’re getting ready? We don’t really have any crazy rituals. Maybe just some good music right before the start to get us pumped up, also occasionally a nervous puke or two LOL.
During recce, if you have to do the speed limit in fear of getting penalties, how do you write the notes and how does not traveling at speed affect your personal judgement? And your co-driver, Ela? At all events during recce you're not allowed to speed, and have to follow the local traffic laws since the roads are not closed and there may be local traffic coming through. By traveling at a slower speed we are able to make more precise and detailed notes to the conditions and degrees of each turn. For example, if there is a corner I believe I can cut to allow me to carry a higher rate of speed through the corner, we always check to make sure there are no boulders, stumps, or ditches that can cause damage. If there is something in the way or along the road we add the note "Don't Cut". We base our notes off of the Jemba Note System, which rates turns on a numerical scale from 1 to 6 (1 being the sharpest and 6 being a slight turn). Also, we add notes like opens and tightens so we know what’s happening on the exit of the turn. We also note crests and any geographical land marks such as bridges or water crossings. But going at a slower rate of speed during recce really gives you the chance to pay attention to the surroundings so we can add the proper notes.
Any shout-outs to anyone who helped you along the way? I want to thank Ela Dziubanski, my girlfriend and co-driver for working side by side with me building this car from the ground up, working late nights, missing sleep, sharing this passion for rallying with me, and putting up with my shit. I would also like to thank John Reed at John Reed Racing, Adam at Atomic Fabrication, Derek Versteegen at Gorilla Off-Road Company and most of all our friends and family for supporting us in every step along the way! We would also like to thank all of our fans and the Subaru communitie's support, we hope that our story will inspire others to follow their dreams. Finally, thank you to all the organizers, workers and volunteers from Rally America, NASA, and ARA for putting on these amazing events so we can go and have fun! We are constantly looking for new sponsors and partnerships so that we can continue to grow and develop, so if you like what we do and are interested in working with us, feel free to drop us line!
Our next event will be the Rally America 100 Acre Woods Rally in Salem, Missouri on March 17th and 18th. Everyone is welcome to come join us for a weekend of rally action! Come say "hi" and check out the car at parc expose!
Photo Credit: Scott Rains, Turbo Tara Photos, Daily Driver Media, Rob Sackyta, and Nick Baumbich