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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.

The GTI broke the beam in 11.885sec at 134mph and the fight was on. Not only were they hopeful to beat Bluewater’s 11.76sec time, but were confident of 11.5sec following pre-event testing.

After another hard launch on the third run, it suffered excessive wheelspin but then a sickening metallic sound. With a loss of power, the driver lifted off and coasted down the strip.

After a quick strip down, they found a tooth had broken off the final drive. The solution was to take the car to Wicked Motorsports where they had three B5 S4 transmissions in stock. Although the car uses a FWD Audi 01E tranny, they worked overnight to fit the quattro tranny, weld the center diff, install the limited- slip diff and have the car running the next day.

The result was lost sleep and another drag racing win for Bluewater, who took first place last year after 034 broke a driveshaft flange on the GTI’s first outing.

The fastest BMW was the supercharged E46 M3 from Platte Forme. We had expected the more powerful E92 M3s to dominate this division but the lightweight six-cylinder took the honor with a 12.241sec run at 119mph. The team later admitted they were confident of breaking into the 11s but “were too busy chatting and lost track of time!”

Just two-tenths of a second slower was the VF-supercharged E92 M3 from european auto source. The team started cautiously, struggling for grip and trying to find the best launch technique. They started in the mid-14s and dropped to 13sec by the sixth run. After that, they nailed 12.298sec at 121mph and remained consistently in that region for the rest of the morning. With its civilized exhaust note and relative lack of drama, the car ran reliably all session.

With its car set-up for the road course, Berk Technology only completed three runs on the strip. They recorded a 12.995 at 112mph on their first run and eventually settled for that, not wishing to damage the clutch in a discipline they knew the car wasn’t built for.

That put Groma Race Fabrication in ninth place on the day with a time of 13.214 at 111mph. Interestingly, the 2002 time matched their fourth place finish time in the E36 M3 turbo Groma entered last year.

With relatively narrow tires and lots of power, it took the team a few runs to figure out the launch. Initially, it was very sideways as driver Mono Agulian fought to gain traction in the lower gears, almost looking like he was going to spin. However, he soon came to terms with it and got a clean launch to record his time but was unable to repeat it thereafter. “I missed a shift, had wheelspin and hit the rev limiter,” Mono lamented after one run. “I made every possible mistake!”

With so many experienced drivers, it was brave for Calvin Wongkar and Alan Chaces from Sonic Motorsport to attempt to drive the Active-supercharged M3 themselves when they had no prior experience. Unfortunately, this meant the car never realized its full potential as both struggled to refine the launch technique and control wheelspin. On several runs, the driver was forced to lift off the throttle to control the car, losing valuable time. On other runs, the car was sideways as they attempted to drive through the wheelspin.

We always say a good driver is the one of the most important aspects of a team’s tuning for etGP, and sadly Sonic was proving us right. However, their perseverance saw the times improving by large chunks until fate dramatically intervened.

After a burnout to warm the tires, the Sonic M3 pulled up to the line but was overtaken by its own rear wheel! Five of its titanium studs had sheared in the hub, leaving the car sliding on its brake rotor.

“I’ve been here since ’95 and never seen that before!” declared a track worker as we all agreed it was better to lose a wheel at the start than the finish. It’s also worth noting that if you’re going to save weight, your wheel bolts might not be the place to start…

After finding some replacement bolts, the car was removed from the track and the team decided not to try to improve on its best run of 13.258sec at 110.68mph.

The final RWD car was the supercharged M Coupe entered by LTBMW. The car only made six passes, culminating in a best time of 13.411sec at 109mph after struggling with lots of wheelspin in the lightweight coupe.

FWD
That leaves our only FWD entrant in last place, bringing up the rear with a time of 13.872sec at 106mph. Interestingly; this was 0.4sec quicker than Eurosport Accessories’ best time last year, showing their steady development with the car. And while it was launching surprisingly hard, it seemed almost inevitable that a driveshaft would snap at some point…

Having replaced one of the original driveshafts at etGP10, the remaining 161,000 mile shaft snapped at etGP11. Fortunately, the guys were prepared for it and had a spare in the trailer. It took them about 30min to replace and they were back on the startline looking to improve. Yet given the inherent traction disadvantage of FWD, being less than 0.5sec behind a considerably more powerful BMW must be considered a victory.

DRAG RACING

Team Car Class 1/4 Mile (Sec) MPH
Bluewater Performance ’07 VW Rabbit AWD 11.757 128.09
034Motorsport ’01 VW GTI RWD 11.885 134.38
Forge Motorsport ’09 Audi TT S AWD 12.099 112.03
Eurocode Tuning ’10 Audi S4 AWD 12.138 113.97
Platte Forme AG ’01 BMW M3 RWD 12.241 119.21
european auto source ’11 BMW M3 RWD 12.298 120.75
Raven Motorsports ’01 Audi A4 1.8T AWD 12.865 110.07
Berk Technology ’08 BMW 135i RWD 12.995 112.14
Groma Race Fabrication ’75 BMW 2002 RWD 13.214 111.74
Sonic Motorsport ’08 BMW M3 RWD 13.258 110.68
’01 BMW M Coupe ’01 BMW M Coupe RWD 13.411 109.30
Euro Sport Accessories ’01 VW Golf FWD 13.872 106.40

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