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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.


Streets Of Willow

For all the effort every competitor puts into the dyno and drag events, each of them will admit its the road course day they really want to win. Moving the event from mid-July to late October has helped the competitors since the temperatures are about 30˚F lower, giving the engines, brakes, tires and drivers better conditions.

Although slightly cold in the morning, the day warmed to the mid 70s and remained fairly constant throughout the day, giving everybody a fair crack at the track.

As usual, we split the teams into three run groups, with each getting three 20min practice sessions throughout the morning. This was to allow them time to set-up the cars and familiarize themselves with the track.

After lunch, each team got three solo timed laps to set their best time. Unfortunately, some of the drivers were cutting corners and kicking dirt onto the track, handicapping the later cars, which could have been a factor in some results.

Unfortunately, we had some problems with timing transponders in the morning. That meant we didn’t get many lap times from the teams to gauge how everybody was doing.

Overall, the competitors seemed pleased with their progress and were using manual stopwatches to track their cars’ progress.

The only car with major problems appeared to be Bluewater’s Rabbit, which was overheating on the track. Professional driver, Mark Smith, had been brought in to set the times. As the SCCA Pro Solo National champion, he was learning the new track fast, but the cooling issues meant he only got four laps at a time. Yet he was improving with every session.

Most of the other teams were complaining that our extended dyno session didn’t give them enough time to prepare the cars for the track. However, Berk was ready for action. After last year’s disastrous oil fire ended their day early, the team wasn’t going to be disappointed again.

In addition to some aggressive new aerodynamic parts, they’d also put chassis engineer Carl Rydquist behind the wheel. He’s a European endurance racer and working with KW had been able to optimize the suspension set-up to get the most out of the Conti ExtremeContact DW tires everybody was using.

As the best (and only!) FWD car in the event, Euro Sport Accessories had set itself the goal of beating last year’s best lap. This had been a 1:28.9 but unfortunately they were unable to match it.

With company owner and experienced racer, Raffi Kazanjian at the wheel, his best time was 1:29.661 despite a bigger turbo and general fine-tuning.

It’s difficult to say why the car was slower this year but possibly the cooler temps didn’t suit the Golf so well, with the tires not reaching their optimum level…

The AWD class is traditionally where we look for our road course winner, and all eyes were on the assembled quattros plus Bluewater’s Rabbit. Slowest of the group was the Raven Motorsport A4 1.8Tq. with a best time of 1:29.157 they were ninth on the day with Matt Baumann at the wheel. He was clearly having fun and set a very respectable time but you’ve got to wonder if a pro driver couldn’t have found a bit more…

One step above him, but more than one second faster, was the Audi TT S from Forge Motorsport. With a time of 1:27.802, the coupe was in the same bracket as some very powerful cars. Part of its performance can be attributed to the skilled feet of Clint Boisdeau, a part-time track instructor who definitely got the best from the 2.0T engine. They were again impressed with the HPA DSG software that ensured the car wouldn’t kick-down or change up without the driver commanding it, giving Clint more control in the corners.

Despite an impressive lap time of 1:27.045, the team from Bluewater Performance was slightly disappointed. They were hoping to make a clean sweep of the entire GP, with domination of the road course high on their priorities. Unfortunately, the engine cooling problems meant the boost was retarded to 15psi (compared to 25psi on the dyno), so we never saw what it could really do. The driver was happy with the suspension set-up, but Gabe Adams and the Bluewater team are determined to return next year with better aero, possibly a widebody and an ice box to help with engine cooling.

The fastest car in this class was the Audi S4 from Eurocode Tuning. This is remarkable since it was in pieces a few days earlier, yet ran faultlessly throughout the event.

A big factor in setting the best time of 1:25.727, which put them third overall on the track, was the presence of Ian Baas behind the wheel. A regular driver for APR Motorsport in its Grand-Am S4, he was the ideal candidate to get the best performance from the engine and chassis. Despite being new to the track, having gravel on the course and some minor suspension problems, Ian showed what the S4 could do in the hands of a professional.

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