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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.


California Speedway

Unlike last year’s disastrous rainfall at the start of our drag racing competition, etGP11 was greeted by low cloud and a slight fog. This damp, dense air wasn’t great for traction but would certainly help engine power.

With three hours on California Speedway’s quarter-mile track, the competitors wasted no time setting some early times. First up was Eurocode Tuning, with its supercharged ’11 Audi S4 V6 sounding particularly obnoxious. The team had decided to remove its Neuspeed exhaust and replaced it with a torque tube.

This essentially meant they had no silencing on the car and while the V6 screamed like a racecar, it hurt your ears as it passed by at full revs. The team later admitted they weren’t sure the plan was giving more power but persevered with it.

The first quarter-mile time was a very respectable 12.4sec. They spent the rest of the session completing 17 full-power runs, which spoke highly of the brand-new and untested clutch they’d been concerned about before the event. During the next three hours, they shaved tenths of their time, eventually finishing in fourth place with a respectable 12.138sec quarter at 114mph.

This threw the gauntlet down for the remaining AWD competitors, with Forge Motorsport responding immediately. Equipped with new Revo engine software and HPA’s stage 3 DSG software, the TT S was able to launch and shift with surprising force.

With a first run in 12.25sec, it was apparent the lighter TT S was going to give the S4 some competition. The second run produced a 12.099 at 112mph and it was game on. Both Eurocode and Forge chased this time all morning, never able to beat it, but coming tantalizingly close in the process. Forge felt it could actually challenge for the lead but was never able to drop into the 11sec bracket.

The matte-wrapped Audi A4 1.8T from Raven Motorsports was late to the party, but owner/builder/driver Matt Baumann set about the task of attempting to run with the other quattros.

His first pass was 13.7sec but it was clearly the tip of the iceberg as the driver discovered the available grip from the Conti DW tires, the best shift points, etc.

Subsequent times were slower by a few tenths, but the launch technique was improving with every run. With persistence, the car set a very respectable 12.865sec at 110mph but thereafter it developed a misfire and suffered clutch wear during the course of its 15 runs.

That only left Bluewater Performance and its custom-built Mk5 Rabbit turbo AWD to set a time. Despite its traction advantage, all four wheels were spinning through first and second gears as the car launched with a ferocity never displayed by any previous Rabbit (you should definitely watch the video for this display!).

First time down the quarter-mile it broke the timing lights in 11.8sec at 127mph, and we all knew we’d witnessed greatness. In fact, this was almost equal to the time set by Bluewater’s R32 on the same tires in last year’s event – a feat that would give them the drag racing win in etGP10.

However, there was more to come and the next pass produced a time of 11.757sec at 128mph. We were excited at the prospect of seeing these times fall when the team reduced the tire pressures and reset the launch control on the United Motorsports software. They also increasing the boost pressure to 25psi but the next time was mysteriously slower.

The team did one more run that day but it didn’t end well. Having turned up the boost, it blew off a hose. The result was a noisy flywheel. After taking the car to Groma’s shop that night, they stripped it down to discover they’d sheared three bolts off the flywheel and it had welded itself to the crank.

Having struggled to remove the flywheel, they fixed it on with three ARP bolts and three more from Home Depot before physically welding it to the crank to keep it in place.

With a paddock full of supercharged BMWs and 034’s custom-built mid-engined, RWD GTI yet to run, the Bluewater Rabbit didn’t look safe at the top. As it’s name suggests, 034Motorsport approaches everything as if it were a professional race. The team uses headsets, timing, datalogging and more to ensure consistency and reliability.

With company owner Javad Shadzi at the wheel, the VW launched incredibly hard but the spinning rear wheels meant it was an entertaining run rather than fast. Forced to lift off the throttle to regain grip, he crossed the line in 12.8sec.

Traction was a similar issue on the second run, despite tire pressure and suspension changes to control it. With a little more boost, the car got wheelspin at the start and again at the top end. In fact, the rear broke loose at over 130mph, with Javad needing to counter-steer and actually drift across the finish line. He knew the run would be fast, so didn’t want to get out of the power, but the cost of spinning at that speed would have been high.

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