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2011 Tuner Grand Prix

In an orgy of European power and speed, we pit North America’s best tuners head-to-head on the dyno, dragstrip and road course in the eurotuner GP.

RWD
With the shocking news that an AWD car hadn’t set the fastest lap time, you can deduce that the winner must have had 2WD. And with so many powerful BMWs on the track, it certainly seemed like any of them could have claimed victory.

At the bottom of the pile was last year’s overall victor, Groma Race Fabrication. Its ’75 BMW 2002 set a time of 1:34.484, which was a long way off the 340whp E36 M3 turbo they entered in etGP10. Another factor was touring car driver, VJ Marzayan, who was absent this year. Instead, Groma’s Mono Agulian was at the wheel and struggling with the old girl.

Up against such modern machinery, the 2002 was always the underdog. It was also set up for 15" wheels, but we could only supply 16" tires. This meant the suspension had to be raised, affecting the geometry. There were also rubbing issues because the fenders didn’t have much room. As a result, the tires were relatively narrow and struggled for grip.

The team also lost an opportunity to tweak the suspension when they opened their shop to Bluewater after the flywheel sheared off. As is a GP tradition, teams help each other; offer advice, loan tools and even share drivers at times. The guys at 034 have always been very helpful, with Groma, Euro Sport, Eurocode et al happy to help their fellow competitors. So despite a disappointing result, the Groma crew was pleased with the car and its performance.

Just ahead of them in 11th position on the day was the Sonic Motorsport E92 M3 that recorded a best lap of 1:30.264. Driver Daniel Tjiputa had never seen the track before and started slowly, coming to terms with understeer problems. However, he built up speed during the day but we have to think the car had more to offer. The european auto source M3, for example, with similar mods was almost 2.5sec quicker per lap…

Next up was the LTBMW Z3 M Coupe with a 1:27.729 lap time. This was respectable considering they were experiencing problems with second gear, but the ace up their sleeve was Grand-Am prototype driver Gene Sigal, who pushed the VF-supercharged Z3 around as fast as it could go.

At Gene’s request, they’d disconnected the rear sway bar and adjusted the KW dampers to improve the handling to good effect. In hindsight, they might have benefited from removing the audio system as well...

The sixth fastest road course time went to european auto source who got round in 1:27.713. This was especially gratifying for the team since they’d driven to each event, done little more than adjust tire pressures and driver Jordan Yost had never seen the E92 M3 before. However, he did know the track, and that’s a big factor in a good time. Overall, they were happy with the performance from the VF blower, although they might want to check the condition of the front splitter that was scraping the ground in tight corners.

Fourth fastest overall was the ESS-supercharged E46 M3 from Platte Forme, which recorded a 1:25.887. With its large splitter, huge wing, stripped interior and full cage, we’d have been disappointed if this wasn’t at the sharp end of the competition.

It was driven by Terry Liu, who had to get permission from his professor to miss school, and left early to make class. The team made no changes to the car and were impressed by the ESS Tuning conversion, which ran flawlessly.

And the winner is…
Fastest lap of the day and RWD class winner went to Berk Technology with its BMW 135i. With an impressive time of 1:24.694, it was almost 1sec quicker than last year’s fastest. This was particularly rewarding for the team since etGP10 was cut short when an engine fire, caused by a minor oil leak, melted the wiring harness and put the 135i out of action before it had completed one lap.

Because the car is built for time attack events, it’s focused on one fast lap, so it’s perfectly tailored for etGP. And with its new aero components and chassis development, it was always a leading contender for the win. In the competition as a whole, the team placed higher than expected since they only wanted the fastest lap trophy.

Finishing about 1sec behind Berk was 034Motorsport and its 700hp mid-engined GTI, which lapped in 1:25.644. After dominating the dyno but breaking on the dragstrip (as they did last year), the road course is where the team always wants to win.

Having swapped the transmission, the team did four laps in practice and parked it until the timed session rather than risk a problem before it could be timed. The suspension set-up was basically the same as last year with some minor tweaks, and driver Christian Miller had a push-to-pass button on the steering wheel that gave him 21psi boost for the straights, reverting to 6psi for the rest of the lap.

By having the most powerful car, finishing second overall in the drag racing and the road course, the 034 GTI finished the event as the best RWD car and the overall winner (not that it’s a competition…). Although they wanted a clean sweep of all the disciplines, the car performed consistently despite drivetrain damage that might have seen other teams retire. However, the resilience and preparation shown by 034 meant they walked away with two trophies from etGP11.

We also have to recognize an amazing effort from Bluewater Performance, who also suffered mechanical problems but came through to win the AWD class and finish second overall in the competition.

In third place, was Berk Technology with a consistent set of results, as we mentioned. They were followed by Eurocode Tuning, european auto source and Platte Forme. Finally, we must recognize Euro Sport for utterly dominating the FWD class!

ROAD COURSE

TEAM CAR CLASS LAP TIME
Berk Technology ’08 BMW 135i RWD 1:24.694
034Motorsport ’01 VW GTI RWD 1:25.644
Eurocode Tuning ’10 Audi S4 AWD 1:25.727
Platte Forme AG ’01 BMW M3 RWD 1:25.887
Bluewater Performance ’07 VW Rabbit AWD 1:27.045
European Auto Source ’11 BMW M3 RWD 1:27.713
LTBMW ’01 BMW M Coupe RWD 1:27.729
Forge Motorsport ’09 Audi TT S AWD 1:27.802
Raven Motorsports ’01 Audi A4 1.8T AWD 1:29.157
Euro Sport Accessories ’01 VW Golf FWD 1:29.661
Sonic Motorsport ’08 BMW M3 RWD 1:30.264
Groma Race Fabrication ’75 BMW 2002 RWD 1:34.484

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