Everyone knows motorsport can be hideously expensive and, while it’s certainly more costly than many other sports, it can actually be rather affordable if you’re smart and/or realistic about it.
One of the most affordable motor racing disciplines to get into is rally sprints, in which drivers race against the clock to set the fastest time over multiple runs of a closed road course, typically averaging 2-4km in length.
Cars are sent off at roughly 20-second intervals in a seeded order of fastest and favourites first.
Most established rally sprint series are held away from public roads around the grounds of motorplexes and motorsport parks, but there are also plenty of standalone events that take part on closed public roads, like the Joondalup City Sprint.
Arguably the star attraction of the Joondalup Festival of Motoring to be held in Perth over November 24-26, this particular event will see competitors take on a new 2.2km circuit right in the heart of the Joondalup CBD four times throughout each day, and entry is only $275 per car.
In addition to the entry fee, competitors will need to hold a minimum of a Motorsport Australia Speed licence ($145) and be a member of an official car club (about $50).
So now you know how much the event and 12 months of licensing fees will cost you, but you still need a car…
The beauty of rally sprints is that the regulations are some of the most relaxed you’ll find in any form of motorsport, with any street or race car eligible to enter so long as it’s fitted with a fire extinguisher and there’s nothing leaking out of it, hanging off or loose.
All this means you can pick up a would-be sprint car for not much money. Which got us thinking, what’s actually out there for a reasonable price?
To find out, we trolled through all the WA carsales listings for manual cars with an imaginary budget of around $10,000 to see if there were any budget gems waiting to make their sprint car racing debuts at Joondalup and live on as circuit toys.
1. 2013 Peugeot 208 GTi
Yes we know, this first option is very much at the top of our hypothetical budget, but it’s also perhaps one of the most ideal candidates on this list in that it’s light, agile, fast and immensely capable in stock form.
The 208 GTi was Peugeot’s answer to the original Ford Fiesta ST and Renault Clio RS and features a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine outputting a tidy 147kW/275Nm.
Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and harnessed by a limited-slip differential as standard, and the whole package only weighs 1133kg.
Zero-100km/h acceleration takes a claimed 6.8 seconds but we’re sure a tenth or two could be shaved off that with some semi-slick tyres…
2. 2007 Mazda 3 MPS
Available for similar money but packing a whole heap more grunt is this 2007 Mazda3 MPS, the fastest and most aggressive vehicle in this list.
Powered by a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine good for a stout 190kW/380Nm, the Mazda3 MPS was and still is a seriously punchy hot hatch capable of 0-100km/h in 6.1sec and 250km/h.
The catch, however, is the lack of a limited-slip differential (LSD), which means the MPS can be a bit of a handful when it comes on boost if you’re ham-fisted.
This particular example has done 229,000km, which is relatively high for a hot hatch, but it comes with a complete service history, overhauled brakes, new(ish) shock absorbers and, for what it’s worth in a race car, an upgraded head unit.
3. 2012 Holden Commodore SV6
We’d be unAustralian if a homegrown, rear-drive sports sedan didn’t feature somewhere in the list and you probably couldn’t get much better than this 2012 Holden Commodore SV6 for those so-inclined.
As the only rear-drive offering featured in this list, it’s fitting the VEII Commodore Z Series is also not only the most powerful option, with its 3.6-litre V6 developing a peaky 210kW/350Nm, but also fitted with a sprint-friendly six-speed manual transmission.
The net result (when new) was a claimed 6.4sec 0-100km/h sprint time and the big sedan is kept in check through the bends by Holden’s rather handy FE2 sports suspension, though an LSD is sadly missing from the equation.
4. 2007 Hyundai Tiburon V6
For $1000 less than the Holden you could nab this very red 2007 Hyundai Tiburon V6, which swaps out the big-bore four-door recipe for a svelte front-drive coupe experience.
The Tiburon was Hyundai’s take on a budget-friendly sports car before the lauded N portfolio came along and, as such, could be had with a 123kW/245Nm naturally-aspirated 2.7-litre V6 paired in this instance to a six-speed manual transmission.
That coupe roofline isn’t especially kind to even vaguely tall folk, but the compact six is a real howler and matched by exactly the sort of dainty, confidence-inspiring front-drive handling that’d be perfect for a novice or less confident driver to build experience in.