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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.


Wicked Motorsports

Due to a date conflict, etGP11 actually began at the dragstrip this year, but we’re going to look at the dyno results first because they should be an indication of what to expect at the strip.

In a change of venue, Wicked Motorsports in Los Angeles offered its all-wheel drive Dynocom DC5000 dynamometer to us. The company is best known for its Audi S4 tuning and had entered a car in a previous GP event. However, it’s moving more upscale and the workshop boasted several Porsche 911s, Nissan GT-Rs and even a Spyker.

As it transpires, the dyno was relatively new but Mike Ghaemi showed enormous patience as we learned its idiosyncrasies with each car. They even provided a lunch for the teams in the shop’s waiting room that conveniently boasts a pool table and TV.

Our biggest problem was getting consistent results with so many different vehicles and high expectations from each tuner. We did experience several anomalies, such as when manually setting the RPM for each car. This had to be triggered at exactly 2500rpm, but because some cars didn’t have accurate tachos, it threw off the torque readings.

We also experienced spikes in the power curves that gave extraneous readings. For example, some teams claimed to be 150hp down on what they expected, while others were more than 100hp up; some couldn’t spin the rollers past 90hp; and another got no reading at all.

Bear in mind, each tuner tests his car days before the event to ensure everything is running correctly, often on their own dynos, so they have a good idea of what to expect…

Frankly, it was rather inconsistent, in part caused by not having enough time with each car or experience on the rollers. However, Mike and his Wicked crew stuck with us, finally running the last car at 10pm after an early 8am start!

As a result, we’re not going to reveal torque numbers here because several readings were unreliable. It’s possible to calculate torque from the power curve, but because the RPM readings were skewed in some cases, it wouldn’t be accurate enough for our purposes.

Undoubtedly, the dyno is capable of measuring power and torque but it was a big ask for Wicked to get through this many cars in a single day with new equipment.

For reference, we’re also going to list the hp number each team thought they should get because several tuners were unhappy with the outcome. What’s more, by cross-referencing the dyno numbers with the quarter-mile times, you should be able to see whether the numbers are realistic. Obviously, you have to factor in traction issues for the front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles, but the drag times do highlight that several BMWs, in particular, were likely more powerful than the dyno numbers suggest.

The front-wheel drive class has been decimated recently, with only Raffi and Vic Kazanjian from Euro Sport Accessories persevering with it. They had made a few tweaks to the ’01 VW Golf they built for last year’s event and were hoping for big things.

Their in-house dyno had seen as much as 320hp at the wheels (whp) from the 1.8T with GT2871R turbo and big injectors on GIAC software. So we were all slightly perplexed when it only produced 170whp!

After running more cars, we decided to re-test the ESA Golf and it rose to 337whp. Confusingly, this is more than they expected but, given the problems we’d encountered and the differences between respective dynos, we decided to go with it.

The AWD class is where we usually expect the fireworks, and this year was no different, with Bluewater Performance, in particular, building an incredible Rabbit 2.5 turbo for the event. On the dyno it had to run in FWD, which created potential traction problems, but would possibly show more power thanks to there being less drag.

After a few false starts with the dyno, the Rabbit screamed to 619whp. This was slightly off the predicted 650hp they’d previously seen, but the Bluewater team was happy with the number. Given the way it produced such an impressive figure, this car was clearly going to be a real contender on the track events.

Eurocode Tuning was a last-minute entry after it managed to find a suitable clutch for the car only days before. They were slightly anxious about whether it would hold up, since this was the first time they’d used it, and had burnt through a pile of others in the past few months. However, they spun the rollers to 398whp and seemed relatively content with the result.

Forge Motorsports was a new contender in etGP and didn’t know quite what to expect. Its Audi TT S had been trailered from Florida for our event, sporting graphics after its appearance at H2Oi.

With a number of bolt-on tuning parts and many of the company’s own components, they were confident of getting into the 300hp mark and were pleased to see 317-AWD-hp flash onto Wicked’s computer screen.

Finally, the patience of Matt Baumann from Raven Motorsports paid off when his A4 1.8T quattro with 2.0L stroker kit was strapped to the dyno. Expectations were high because the enlarged engine with big-valve head, Cat cams, big injectors and Garrett GT3076 turbo was rated at 415hp.

Unfortunately, this was one of the biggest losers on the day, only measuring 305hp despite sounding like a stone-cold killa. A slipping clutch after the previous day’s drag racing was found to be the culprit, so Matt rushed back to his workshop to spend the night swapping the clutch.

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