By now, you know european car magazine incorporated eurotuner.com several months ago, with our editorial team working on both titles. One of eurotuner's most popular events was its annual Tuner GP, so we decided to continue it under the EC banner since it's a great showpiece for many of North America's best European tuners.
As a result, the format of the event is very similar to how it was at eurotuner, with shops invited to compete on the dyno and road course against one another. We used to incorporate drag racing as well, to give the teams a greater challenge, but dragstrips are virtually extinct in Southern California, so we dropped it for this year, hoping to bring it back in 2013.
The Tuner GP isn't a competition as such, since no two cars are the same. It's more of a grudge match, with the teams competing to highlight their engine and chassis tuning abilities.
We split the cars into rear- and all-wheel drive classes, with a Time Attack class for cars that don't see street use and a new electric vehicle class. However, ECGP is designed to demonstrate how the various modifications perform in real-world tests. So if you're thinking about tuning your R32 or M3, you might like to consider some of the engine or chassis mods featured here.
The Tuner GP is a great opportunity to examine specific tuning packages and discover whether they meet the tuner's claims. And while the team with the best numbers has something to brag about, it's not the whole story. For example, cars that do well in each discipline are likely to be highly focused track cars that might not translate well to the street. But by measuring power and lap times, you can see which package delivers the most overall, or in the specific area you want. But it's worth remembering that the Time Attack cars are stripped out, lightweight machines, whereas most of the other classes represent street cars with full interiors, steel body panels, etc. This is what you'll be driving, unless you're looking to build a dedicated track car.
ECGP is designed to let you browse tuning conversions under the harshest conditions and decide what modifications or base vehicle would work best for you and your requirements
ECGP is a test of speed, power and poise. We scrutinize the cars on the dyno for outright power and torque, and on the road course to see how the total package performs under pressure.
In order to accommodate such a variety of cars, we really don't impose many rules. You must use the Continental ExtremeContact DW tires we supply to each team, and you can't inject nitrous into the engine (although you can use it as an external cooler).
In the past, tuners were allowed to swap components or software maps on the dyno, but we've removed this ability to ensure the cars remain in the same tune throughout the event.
Previously, some teams would find an advantage with tire choice, making cars on street tires the underdogs. So we teamed up with Continental Tire to supply its ExtremeContact DW rubber to all the teams. These are considered an ultra-high performance street tire, well suited to modified street cars, yet they also withstand considerable abuse from the Time Attack cars, allowing them to record some very fast times that are comparable to dedicated race rubber.
On the dyno day at Church Automotive Testing, teams were allowed three pulls to ensure the ECUs had adapted and to check for any potential problems. As we said, this year there was no tuning allowed between runs, but faults, blown hoses, etc, could be rectified on the spot.
For the road course we visited the tight and technical Streets of Willow. It's a relatively short track but its demanding turns and high-speed corners are a great test of chassis balance over engine power, which is why we choose it rather than some of the faster SoCal tracks. It gives the less powerful teams an equal chance to shine, instead of the more powerful cars simply blowing them away on the straights. We're not simply looking for the fastest and most powerful cars here.
Turn the page to discover how each team did on the dyno and road course. We also have a profile of the teams as well as the overall results and a spec list for you to better understand what went into building these remarkable cars, and how they fared in our 2012 Tuner GP.
Continental tires ExtremeContact DW
Specifying a control tire for the Tuner GP meant we can focus on what parts the tuner has fitted, rather than the rubber he's chosen. A mix of tires in the past was either flattering or condemning some teams, so the standardization of the Continental DW gives us a better indication of how the tuner's components are working together.
With such high-performance machinery, it was vital for us to choose tires that were equal to the task, rather than leaving the competitors scrabbling for grip. So we've been fortunate to forge a relationship with Continental Tires for the past few years.
We initially approached Conti for the ExtremeContact DW tires because they'd performed very well in a group test we conducted at eurotuner magazine in collaboration with Tire Rack. In fact, they won the last Tire Test we conducted in 2009 against ten of the latest high-performance tires in both wet and dry conditions.
The Continental ExtremeContact DW was declared the overall winner thanks to its abilities in mixed weather conditions, as well as good braking performance and turn-in grip.
And although the Tuner GP remained hot and dry all day, the DW's abilities were appreciated by GP competitors who experienced high levels of predictable grip. The teams needed to keep the car stable under high braking forces, while also requiring strong and consistent cornering ability. What's more, when the tires do finally let go under severe provocation, they respond predictably to give the drivers plenty of feedback. In fact, the number of drivers drifting through turns after their timed sessions suggested they were very comfortable with the tires' performance.
Continental ensures the DW (meaning Dry and Wet) provides both a lower rolling resistance and improved tread life than its competitors. It has a 340 UTQG rating, which means they should last many thousands of miles under normal conditions. There are different indicators within the tread blocks themselves to alert drivers to when the tires have exceeded their optimum tread depth for both dry and wet conditions.
To verify the treadwear, one of our GP drivers reported that he was still using the DW tires we provided last year. Not only had they completed a full track day, but he then put them on his daily driver and will even participate in track days on them up to a year later!
With 13 cars lined up outside, it CAN take all day to dyno every team in the Tuner GP, especially when each car is allowed three pulls for consistency. So this year, Shawn Church from Church Automotive Testing in Wilmington, CA generously offered his services.
Not only does he have an enormous facility, with more than enough parking for our motley crew, but Church boasts three Dynapack dynos, allowing us to run multiple cars together.
The Dynapack bolts to the driven hubs of the car, ensuring no wheelspin and greater accuracy. It takes a little longer to fit the adapters than strapping a car down, but the Church crew was well practiced in the art.
Once everything was clicking, we had one car being dynoed while a second was being prepared for its runs. We had all the cars tested in about five hours, with only minor problems to overcome, all associated with traction control systems farting because they could sense all four wheels turning at 100mph. However, Shawn Church was very familiar with his equipment and was able to resolve every issue. He's used to testing a huge variety of machines and problem-solving electronic issues, so nothing we presented caused him any difficulties.
The weather was unusually hot for early October and the humidity was very low; not ideal conditions for maximum power runs, but all the teams coped well, some using ice or nitrous to cool the intake.
As mentioned, we allowed up to three runs and recorded the best results here. We considered taking an average but several cars had spurious readings because of traction control or heat issues, skewing the results. Since the Dynapack can't produce wheelspin, the numbers recorded should be an accurate measurement of what the engines were capable of.
Time Attack Class
Attempting to run the cars in alphabetical order, Berk Technology was first on the dyno with its Time Attack-prepped BMW 135i. As in past years, the team is only interested in the track portion, but tolerates our dyno session, not expecting to win but hoping for around 400hp at the wheels from its N54 twin-turbo 3.0L. "It's got a stock bottom end with bolt-ons," company owner Bryan Min explained. "We won't win here but just want to beat Christian [Miller, 034Motorsport] on the Streets of Willow track!"
As predicted, they didn't have the most powerful engine, but they did hit 402hp to the wheels at 5900rpm, with 420 lb-ft of torque at 4500rpm during three very consistent runs, proving they know exactly what this car is capable of.
Their big rival, 034Motorsport, always brings a big gun to the fight. After several years running a mid-engined VW GTI with a single-turbo Audi S4 V6, the team reverted to its B5 Audi A4. It's powered by a 1.8T 20v motor with a 2.0L built bottom-end. The motor revs to 8500rpm and uses a Precision 6262 turbo to make its power.
Team principal, Javad Shadzi predicted 630hp and seemed almost disappointed to realize 596whp at 7000rpm and 501 lb-ft at 5560rpm. It turns out, the dry air may have been causing some ignition problems, prompting the team to request a shorter ramp time on the dyno to avoid engine damage. This undoubtedly compromised output but kept the 2.0T in one piece. However, 034 came away with the most powerful car in its class, if not the Tuner GP...
Running later in the day when the temperature had risen, Platte Forme returned with the same ESS Tuning VT2-500+ supercharged E46 M3 as last year. However, they'd gone from 9psi to 12, improved the cooling with a new intercooler and oil cooler, and addressed fuel starvation problems with a new fuel cell.
The guys had sneakily been testing on the Church Dynapack the day before and identified problems with the Okada Projects ignition coils and throttle position sensor. Once changed, the 3.2L motor put out 473whp at 8000rpm and 325 lb-ft at 6500rpm, an increase of 90hp over the previous day...
We would recommend you watch the ECGP12 video at europeancarweb.com - not only is it a great record of events but it captures some of the violence of the M3's exhaust note. Along with the E36 M3 and CLS63, it stood out as one of the more spectacular-sounding cars at the event.
With no FWD cars entered for the first time in 10 years, Raffi and Vic Kazanjian from Euro Sport Accessories had abandoned their usual VW GTI for an AWD R32. It was equipped with a VF-Engineeering supercharger, head gasket spacer to reduce the compression to 9:1, Eurospec 264? cams plus custom Euro Sport FMIC and exhaust system.
It was great to hear a VR6 running at full song on the dyno, exceeding the predicted 360hp to produce a respectable 387whp at 6000rpm and 379 lb-ft at 5000rpm.
Its major opponent would be the 2012 Golf R from former R32 turbo specialists HPA Motorsports, who had driven down from Canada for our event. They brought a stage 2 version of what they described as a DIY street conversion, the car having a full interior.
Hoping for 410hp at the crank, it boasted an 8.7:1 head spacer for the GT30-71/76 turbo set at 26.5psi, plus an HGP intake manifold and injectors. It ran an HPA downpipe, quad muffler system, software and a prototype intake.
On the dyno, the combination produced 392whp at 6700rom and 350 lb-ft at 5000rpm, putting it close to the prediction. It would certainly be interesting to see how these VWs compared on the track the following day...
The third VW was the Mk5 Rabbit from Bluewater Performance, but with its AWD conversion and turbo upgrade, this specialized machine was practically halfway to time attack status. It debuted last year to take on 034's purpose-built machine and did exceptionally well, although it suffered on the track slightly with cooling issues. After significant development over the past year, the team returned to try and win the event.
Unfortunately, things got off to a bad start for Bluewater when the 2.5L five-cylinder engine block breather failed four days before ECGP12. After losing all its oil, the motor had to be rebuilt the following day and fitted the day after. So one day before our event, they drove up the road to check the engine and it immediately blew a plug out of the block, losing the oil again. Fortuantely, LTMotorwerks allowed them to use their workshop to wrench on the car, and J&S Engines next door provided a new plug.
By the time the team arrived at the dyno their nerves were frazzled since the motor had never been under load until then. There was drama when a boost hose blew off on the second run but it was quickly refitted. "We were just happy to see the car run," said Gabe Adams from BWP. "I'm happy just to see a number. It would have been nice to push the boost a bit more but we didn't want to risk anything."
Running conservative boost and revs, the 2.5L turbo produced a healthy 594whp at 6500rpm and 554 lb-ft at 5200rpm.
Unfortunately, this was to be the Rabbit's last appearance since it was smoking heavily as it came off the dyno and was later found to have jumped three teeth on the timing pulley when the tensioner failed, bending most of the valves. The team tried valiantly to rebuild the head at Eurocode's workshop but threw in the towel at 3am and headed home. This isn't the last we'll see of the Bluewater Rabbit and we commend their huge effort, which was rewarded with the best run in the AWD class.
As for Eurocode Tuning, they brought another B8 Audi S4 to show off the parts they'd developed for the supercharged 3.0L V6. It had the Eurocode intercooler, headers and prototype intake, plus a Milltek cat-back exhaust, smaller APR pulley and custom APR software.
The team was expecting to see around 460hp but the dyno showed 492whp at 6200rpm and 477 lb-ft at 3800rpm. However, they were pumping nitrous onto the intercooler, which is allowed, but the spray was certainly entering the intake, which isn't. So while they didn't break the letter of the law, they were sailing close to it. Fortunately, none of the competitors complained but it might explain why the output was slightly higher than expected.
Our final AWD entry was the 997 Porsche 911 Turbo from GSR Autosport. This was the car the more established competitors feared. As a eurotuner event, we previously didn't allow the 911 because it wasn't a vehicle the magazine covered. However, as a european car event, this is what it was all about. And the mere sight of the 911 had people quaking in their boots; it certainly attracted one of the largest crowds when it ran.
As it happens, they need not have worried so much since the modifications were relatively mild. The Porsche had Promotive software, IPD plenum and Y-pipe, evoms intercooler, BBi pulleys and coil packs, Euro Pipes exhaust with high-flow cats, a GT3 throttle body and Aquamist meth injection.
Expecting around 500hp, the 911 spun the Dynapack to 493whp at 5700rpm and 552 lb-ft at 4400rpm, which meant it was a long way off the most powerful cars in ECGP12, but its legendary ability to put that power to the ground was still a cause for concern.
This class was dominated by BMW shops, but GSR Autosport was adventurous enough to enter a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG. Again, the mods were limited, with just a middle resonator delete, K&N filters, Renntech software and a custom intercooler ice chest from GSR.
Heat is the engine's biggest problem, so they were hoping the ice and 108-octane race fuel would help cool it, but pre-detonation was detected on only its second run. They aborted before something expensive happened and were relatively pleased with 552whp at 5300rpm and a preposterous 816 lb-ft at 2900rpm. That's an utterly ridiculous number, and promised to be hugely entertaining at the track. Somehow we couldn't see this behemoth being particularly wieldy through the tight turns but only time would tell.
A great deal was also expected of the E92 BMW M3 from european auto source. This was the same car as last year, sporting a VF-Engineering 620 supercharger conversion the team estimated would be good for 550hp at the wheels. However, the DCT transmission was causing a few problems since the traction control had to be "errored-out" before it would allow high-speed runs. Unable to sense the front wheels moving, Shawn had to defeat the system before it would respond properly. After a couple of minutes, the might V8 was pumping out a best of 574whp at 8100rpm and 383 lb-ft at 7000rpm, which exceeded the team's expectations.
That only left LTMotorwerks (formerly LTBMW), which had entered two cars. The first was joint oldest in the field; a '95 E36 M3 belonging to company co-owner Ivan Madrigal. It's his own track car and boasted a stage 2 Active Autowerke blower complete with bigger injectors, FMIC, etc. It also had a ported head plus LTMW headers and exhaust system.
Hoping for around 420hp, Ivan was delighted to see his 18 year-old car put down 420whp at 6800rpm and 336 lb-ft at 5800rpm. However, he was slightly concerned about a weeping head gasket that had appeared during 100? shakedown track tests two days earlier. Hopefully, he'd make it through the entire event in one piece.
The second car from LTMW was an '09 BMW 335i belonging to customer Darren Yoo. It started out as an E90 show car in Porsche GT3 RS grey with M3 panels and uprated turbos on the N54 engine. Despite its auto transmission, Darren had the bug and wanted to chase more power, so opted for the Vishnu/FFTec single-turbo conversion with downpipe and software. It retains its Active FMIC and LTMW 2.75" center-exit exhaust, which gives the four-door an angry snarl.
The car had recently been dyno-tuned but Darren wasn't sure what its numbers were, so was hoping for 550hp. However, the traction control wouldn't allow the car to exceed 10mph on the dyno. So it was unbolted and driven around for a few minutes before returning.
With high-fives all round, the 335i spun the Dynapack to 597whp at 6200rpm and 550 lb-ft at 5100rpm. This made it the most powerful car at ECGP12, much to the chagrin of 034, which was bested by 1whp, and Bluewater, which was only 2.5whp away!
Despite such impressive numbers, we saved the best until last. For the first time in our ten year history, and as a possible nod to its future, we invited the electric-powered E36 M3 from EV West to participate.
Their story is fascinating, since two friends in the computer field decided to build their own car and even took it to Pikes Peak, where we first encountered it. At the Race to the Clouds, they had turned down the power supply to about 250hp to reduce wheelspin and get it up the hill, but for our event they'd be turning it up.
Revving the electric engine to only 4400rpm, the first run produced 333whp and 647 lb-ft, which was shocking enough for most of us. However, the team decided to increase the current and voltage output to approximately 80% of the battery capacity, resulting in 383whp at 2500rpm and 840 lb-ft at 1100rpm.
European Car 2012 Tuner GP Dyno Numbers
Church Automotive Testing
When we put this event together, one of the biggest subjects for debate is the choice of dyno. Some shops prefer a Mustang dyno, others like the Dynojet. Each has its benefits but we like the bolt-on Dynapack option because it eliminates issues such as wheelspin, alignment losses and tire inflation. It also overcomes the small differences in mass and inertia between different wheel and tire options, creating a level playing field for a comparison event such as ours.
The Dynapack places load on the engine using electrical or hydraulic pressure. This should make it easier to replicate real world conditions and better able to measure changes in output.
A further advantage is that Church's dyno uses one of the biggest cooling fans we've ever witnessed, allowing the cars to run cool on the hot, dry day of our event.
Shawn Church works on a huge variety of machinery, from Civic to Cadillacs, and was well versed in all the machinery we presented to him. So if you're in the Los Angeles or Long Beach area and need a very experienced performance test and diagnostic center, visit Church Automotive Testing (home.earthlink.net/~spchurch).
Fastest Lap Competition
Streets of Willow
There's no doubt that while the dyno competition is interesting and informative, it's simply a delaying tactic before we get to the track. This is where everybody wants to win their class, if not outright on the technical turns at the Streets of Willows racetrack in Rosamond, CA.
Although the weather was unseasonably hot, a strong wind helped stifle the heat somewhat, but engines, brakes and those Continental tires were definitely feeling the 90? temps by the afternoon.
The day started early with cars split into run groups, each getting three 20min practice sessions to set-up the cars, learn the track and scrub-in the tires. This was followed by three timed laps per car after lunch. While teams knew their practice times, we kept the final laps secret, so you're discovering how they did in the same way they are. And believe us, there are some very happy teams out there right now. This was the fastest event we've ever run, the cars setting some spectacular times on high-performance street tires...
With only Bluewater missing from the roster, we had a full field for the morning sessions. The drivers' briefing was followed by some intense preparations as drivers gave feedback and teams fettled damper rates, ride height, tire pressures, boost, aerodynamics and more.
There was a stark contrast in the paddock between the race teams and the tuners, between those with a pro driver and the ones who were having a go themselves. On the whole, every team acquitted itself well, having prepared the vehicles for the impending battle.
For cars like the Mercedes CLS63, GSR's greatest asset would be drift racer Michael Essa behind the wheel. As a co-owner of the shop, he knows his way around a racetrack but was clearly struggling with the car's weight. "It's like driving a boat. The brakes are great but the car is really heavy, so they're getting hot. And I can't switch off the traction control fully because it becomes undriveable with 800 lb-ft. So I'm running it in Sport mode that allows some slip but, at the end of the day, it's a 4200 lb car on street tires..."
The Kazanjian brothers from Euro Sport Accessories were again sharing driving and wrenching duties, delighted with the new R32 Turbo's track manners. "The car is perfect," exclaimed an enthusiastic Raffi. "The power and handling are good. What more could we ask for?"
The guys from Platte Forme were delighted nothing broke on the dyno and were making big adjustments to the suspension to cope with the bumpy track. However, they forgot to fit the timing transponder, so had no idea what progress was being made in the early sessions.
The electric M3 from EV West was very entertaining to watch on the track but was oversteering wildly. Car builder Michael Bream told us he was fighting against the electric motor's phenomenal torque while learning the track and tires at the same time. "If I get the line wrong, it's easy for me to kick the tail out and push the car wide to avoid going off," he explained.
LTMotorwerks were having fun in their two cars. The E36 sounded incredible but the E90 was struggling with its auto 'box. It was throwing up codes and having shifting issues in the first session, so it wasn't looking good.
HPA had set its sights on the Euro Sport R32. "They're our benchmark," explained company owner Marcel Horn. "We have similar power in our Golf R and shaved 3sec of our laps times in the first session as our driver learned the track. With their track knowledge, we'd be happy if we could match them at the end of the day..."
As the only electric-powered vehicle in the field, EV West had the class win assured, but we were curious to see how it would stack up against the LTMW E36 M3, for example.
Unfortunately, with the batteries draining and a steep learning curve for the team, it was the slowest competitor by virtue of only enough charge for one timed lap. As it stands, 1min 32.581sec is a respectable lap around the track and their fastest of the day, but about 4sec slower than the conventional E36 M3.
Traditionally, all-wheel drive cars dominate the road course but RWD was in the ascendency. So we were fascinated to discover how the class would fare this year.
One of the big battles was between the two VW teams, with Euro Sport Accessories setting the bar with a best time of 1:28.959 with some precise driving, but it wasn't as as good as the 1:27.7 they recorded before the lunch break.
HPA Motorsports didn't fare so well. The first lap was way off the pace and only built to 1:32.035 on the final lap. This was their fastest of the day but hard driving in the morning had accelerated the tire wear. It's more impressive considering the car was in full road trim and it's stage 2 tune was (perhaps optimistically) called a DIY build. Afterwards, the team rued the decision not to bring an R32 turbo as well, as originally planned.
The two remaining AWD cars were more closely matched, with GSR Autosport taking the class win in its '08 Porsche 911 Turbo. The crew had been fettling the sway bars and Moton damper settings to suit the street tires, but they seemed to be struggling to get the relatively narrow 285/35 R19 rear tires to hook up.
With Essa behind the wheel, the best time of the day was set in the morning at 1:26.5. This translated to 1:26.855 in the timed sessions, with Michael only pushing the first and third laps, using the second to cool everything down.
Fractionally behind the 911 was the Porsche-green Audi S4 from Eurocode Tuning. As former GP winners, the company knew what was required and its quattro system was being put to good use on the track, with the car being driven very hard in the morning sessions. Any doubt that you couldn't get an S4 to oversteer was soon silenced as small changes to the KW V3 coilovers and tire pressures started to bring the numbers down. However, a rubbing tire caused sidewall damage, meaning the driver couldn't push as hard as he wanted in the afternoon. The fastest timed lap was 1:27.095, which was agonizingly close to the Porsche. It was a valiant effort, but a couple of seconds off their best lap last year with APR touring car driver Ian Baas at the wheel of a similar S4.
With LTMotorwerks taking gold on the dyno, all eyes were on the BMW 335i four-door automatic to see what it could do. With a driver gifted to them by Bluewater's absence, who was unfamiliar with the car, and the transmission not happy under duress, lap times were inconsistent. Acceleration was strong but its cornering was hampered by gear selection issues, so a best time of 1:28.748 was its fastest of the day and not representative of its engine output.
Sneaking ahead of the 335i was the '95 BMW M3 from LTMotorwerks. With owner Ivan Madrigal at the wheel, he pushed it round with a best lap of 1:28.327. This was his best time of the day but it seemed to happily run similar times all day, despite fears of a head gasket problem on the previous day.
The RWD class winner was the E92 M3 from european auto source. Fitted with its VF supercharger and possibly the world's largest rear wing, it skated the line between street car and Time Attack classes. Since it's still street-driven, we gave it the benefit of the doubt.
The crew reported that power was good, the brakes were strong but they were dealing with some heat issues. This was reflected in the laps, with a best time of 1:26.1 coming in the morning. By the afternoon, the car had slowed to a decent 1:26.811, which snuck them in front of the GSR 911 by 0.04sec. This represents a good improvement over the same car's best time of 1:27.7 that it recorded last year.
That only left the GSR Autosport Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG flailing in last place with a time of 1:28.801.
In reality, that's impressive for such a large car on a tight track, and we're confident it would have climbed the ranks if we'd been on a faster circuit.
As it was, Essa again only used two of his three laps to set a time, opting to cool the engine, brakes and tires in between. It's a tactic that worked because the fastest lap was about 2sec quicker than anything in practice, but I think we all learned the CLS63 isn't a Tuner GP car...
All the money was on this class to claim top honors, and it was a safe bet. However, you'd have lost money if you backed last year's winners Berk Technology. Its BMW 135i is a winner in several Time Attack competition series, so expectations were high. The team knows the set-up and the driver knows both the car and the track, so what could possibly go wrong?
In the three practice sessions, the crew spent a great deal of time checking the tire pressures and changing suspension settings, producing some fast 1:24 laps. And with last year's winning time of 1:24.694, this performance would seem to be enough to claim the victory.
With the car putting its Continental street tires under considerable stress, driver Carl Rydquist cooled everything in between his timed laps, only taking two fliers. The result was 1:23.893, which would have wiped the floor last year. Yet unbelievably, it was only good enough for third overall and in class at ECGP12.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came from Platte Forme. This was a team we met for the first time last year, but which struggled to find the right set up. However, they were more prepared this year, with the car looking and sounding far more purposeful.
Equipped with the most aggressive aero devices of all the teams, and sporting a banshee wail, the Platte Forme E46 M3 appeared to be the quickest car on track, vastly improved over last year in the hands of student Terry Liu.
During the morning, a great deal of preparation work went into the car, forcing them to miss the first session. But once on track in the morning they were flying, setting a best time of 1:22.9, which put everybody else on notice.
During the timed session, a best time of 1:23.119 caused dismay among the Time Attack class, setting a very high bar for 034Motorsport who were to follow.
And the winner is...
Fastest lap of the day and Time Attack class winner was the aforementioned 034Motorsport with its B5 Audi A4.
Without disparaging their fellow competitors, 034 is highly organized, totally focused and utterly determined to succeed. In previous years they won the event with this same car fitted with a VR6 turbo engine. It was then retired to Time Attack competitions, fitted with a modified 1.8T and entered into Pikes Peak. In the meantime, they built a mid-engined, RWD VW GTI fitted with a B5 Audi S4 V6 turbo, which subsequently won our Tuner GP at its second attempt.
Having been beaten last year at Streets of Willow by Berk's 135i, company president Javad Shadzi took the decision to bring the Audi out of retirement. During the practice sessions they went through a well-rehearsed routine, taking feedback from professional driver and 034 employee Christian Miller.
The car's significant aerodynamic additions caused an amount of instability in the high desert winds, so changes were made to reduce the effect. Despite being developed for R-compound tires or slicks, the A4 made good use of its Conti street tires thanks to air pressure and suspension adjustments, softening them to find more grip.
Like several other pro drivers, Christian was surprised at how well the Continental DW tires were holding up. Although never designed to run on racecars such as these, the tires delivered consistent grip and liked lower pressures, whereas most street tires are generally over-inflated on the track to find grip.
Sitting out the last session, Christian asked for 4psi on his push-to-pass button that he used on the two straights, raising it from the normal 24psi when the car needed it most. The results speak for themselves, with the fastest lap coming in the timed session, breaking the beam at 1:22.386, its remaining laps also faster than any other car.
It was a dominant performance, quicker than many similar cars on R-compounds, and the fastest time we've ever seen at Streets in the TunerGP. It sets the benchmark for ECGP13 and we invite all North American tuners of European cars to step up and try to beat that impressive time.
european car 2012 Tuner GP Lap Times
If you visit www.europeancarweb.com and enjoy our video, all the in- and on-car footage was recorded using Replay XD1080 HD cameras. It uses a water-resistant, anodized, aluminum housing, making it the smallest, lightest HD camera on the market. It uses two buttons for on/off and start/stop, making it easy to operate, with an LED and vibration telling you it's running. However, it allows 1080P, 960P, 720P, time-lapse photos, internal and external audio, etc. You set the Mode once and it remains, and an indicator on the rear cover reminds you were its at.
With a raft of mounting options and its small size, the Replay camera is a versatile option to the popular GoPro cameras we generally use, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the positive results from our ECGP footage (replayxd.com).
Time Attack Class
2001 Audi A4
Location: Fremont, CA
Of all the teams in ECGP, 034Motorsport is easily the most competitive. While they're a fun bunch of guys, motorsport is in their name and something they take very seriously.
Coming down from NorCal, 034 returned with its A4 widebody, although the last time we saw it there was a VR6 turbo under the hood. This time, it's home to a fully built 1.8T 2.0L that sounded demonic as flames spat from the side-exit exhaust.
Christian Miller knows this car well and proved it by setting the fastest time of the day with a 1:22.4. The car is built to win, but is also adaptable. A few months ago, for example, it was at Pikes Peak, and you can read about their endeavors in EC 12/12.
This year's rules banned component swapping, so 034 president Javad Shadzi stuck to just one turbo to dominate the event. It was mission accomplished, gaining 100hp on their smaller turbo without sacrificing much at low RPM. The recorded 500 lb-ft is pretty astonishing for a 2.0L.
2008 BMW 135i
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Having spent the majority of their time tuning imports, Berk turned things around with the 135i. The company specializes in exhaust fabrication and implementing high-flow cats, but this 135i is the full package, looking perfect on the track.
They dominated the RWD class in last year's event, but this year the competition was far tougher. For a car with such limited engine modifications, it's an example of what you can do with good chassis tuning. That said, 400hp at the wheels is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you factor in the custom V-Fiber aero kit, Seibon carbon hood and trunk, along with the gutted interior and rollcage.
With a simple KW Variant 3 coilover setup, an OS Giken limited-slip and a Performance Friction big-brake kit, the car performed flawlessly at speed. Let's not give all the credit to the car, because driver Carl Rydquist is an amazing wheelman; a European endurance racer and chassis engineer by profession. He even waved to us, showing off for the camera on his final lap.
Platte Forme AG
2001 BMW M3
Location: Alhambra, CA
Platte Forme is a Los Angeles-based European tuning facility with experience in both racing and modifying. Their E46 M3 catches your eye in its Laguna Seca blue, with its yellow Klassen wheels wearing wide 275-section rubber at all four corners. It has a pitbull stance, paired with aggressive aero canards and huge rear wing.
While it looked fast standing still, the volume of noise from its open exhaust was epic. A stage 2
ESS VT-500 supercharger is the heart of the power adders, but Platte Forme went the extra mile to bring it to the time attack league. As such, it's completely gutted with an in-house cage, three-way adjustable JRZ coilovers and a parts list that goes on for days.
It's certainly commendable that this small shop managed to pilot their M3 right up to the tail of 034's A4, getting within a whisker of the winning time during practice.
2007 VW Rabbit
Location: Westminster, CO
Bluewater Performance specializes in VW/Audi performance installations and fabrication, along with high-horsepower tuning. Best known for big-turbo R32 builds, they decided to construct this '07 Rabbit for last year's etGP and returned again with the AWD turbo car.
Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to avoid the catastrophic failure of minor parts, which the Rabbit sustained just days before ECGP12.
With a fresh motor and slightly bruised ego, Bluewater made it to the dyno sessions without any time to check over or break-in the motor. As you'll have read on the dyno pages, things didn't end well but we know the team will be back next year - when this thing runs correctly, it'll be a force to be reckoned with. Fortunately, Bluewater aren't giving up until they dominate our event.
2010 Audi S4
Location: Torrance, CA
Eurocode prides itself on honesty and integrity: you can read about it on the "About" section on their website, but what that doesn't get across is the team's competitive drive, or how badass their Audi S4 is.
It was finished in Signal Green - an Audi Exclusive option and easily the loudest new Audi we've seen. But paint wasn't the only noise. Among the diverse field of cars, you could be blindfolded and still know which was the Eurocode S4 lapping the track - it was a banshee.
It was also moving at a rapid pace thanks to a combination of go-fast parts from APR and in-house Eurocode developments. Despite its weight, the S4 on its KW V3 coilovers and a slew of suspension parts, seemed to have virtually no understeer. If anything, the driver was oversteering out of the slower turns, the set-up allowing the car to rotate. With the grip of the Conti tires and quattro drivetrain, it would then find traction and shoot up the straights.
Euro Sport Accessories
2004 Volkswagen R32
Location: Anaheim, CA
These guys have been around for a while. Starting back in '88, Euro Sport now sells everything from its own exhausts and intakes to suspension setups. They even have an in-house dyno to measure gains from software upgrades.
Not only is Euro Sport a veteran of the European tuning scene, they're long-time participants of etGP and now ECGP. In the past they've hit the track with a Mk1 Rabbit racer, Ford Focus, Mk4 Golf 1.8T and this year's Mk4 R32.
The R32 was undoubtedly a sleeper. It looked unassuming enough, sitting nicely on Avant Garde M310 wheels and burbling a sweet VR6 exhaust note. Lapping the track, though, you'd hear the VF-Engineering turbocharger spinning to 12psi, dumping its excess boost pressure out the back. It really moved!
Euro Sport's R32 was a great example of how to create a well-balanced car without going overboard. It's a great daily driver but fully capable of lapping the track, although it seemed to have some understeer issues that might be sorted with a more dedicated race suspension set-up. Acceleration, on the other hand, was no issue, thanks to the VF-Engineering turbo kit.
2012 Golf R
Location: Surrey, BC, Canada
HPA is most notably associated with its wild VR6 twin-turbo AWD conversions for anything with a VW or Audi badge. Its cars became icons and in previous years, they've battered some egos in our Tuner GP.
This year, HPA decided to change things up with a new Golf R. It was fitted with what the company described as a DIY upgrade kit and was street spec, complete with full interior.
The goal was to make minimal upgrades to the hatchback while still being a contender for the GP title. It was undeniably fast by any standards, but the opposition was a little tougher than perhaps the company expected.
The R featured a hybrid turbo that sacrificed nothing in terms of drivability, as well as an in-house six-piston brake set-up and KW Clubsport coilovers.
Without doubt, the HPA Golf R would be one of the most pleasurable and practical daily drivers, without blowing your budget on an M3 or S4.
European Auto Source
2011 BMW M3
Location: Anaheim, CA
european auto source is well known in the BMW world, having created some of the meanest looking Ms and developed a number of its own products. For the second time, they brought their '11 M3 to the grid but recent changes made an enormous difference...
This year, the M3 sported AST 4200 coilovers and Swift springs. While the rear wing sure isn't for the shy, it certainly kept the rear-end in check at high speed and through the corners. Recaro Pole Position seats and a VS Motorsports cage completed the interior, buttoned up with their own Macht Schnell hardware.
The european auto source M3 showed good reliability lap after lap, although even with its giant APR wing, the E92 was still one of the more tail-happy cars in the field. Thankfully, driver Jordan Yost is a race instructor and appeared well equipped to deal with any situation. Perhaps next year they'll move up to the Time Attack class.
2008 Porsche 911 Turbo / 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Location: Lake Forest, CA
GSR Autosport from Lake Forest, CA is home to a number of amazing projects, unrivaled craftsmanship and fabrication, along with friendly, approachable staff. Mike Essa is at the heart of the operation, coming from a career of racing, with a growing presence in the Formula D championship and a member of the BMW tuning scene.
GSR does everything from V10 swaps in M3s to bolt-on installs and race preparation. However, instead of competing in the GP with one of their wild track-purposed beasts, they showed up with two high-dollar cars making generous amounts of power.
Admittedly, we feared a lightly modified 911 Turbo had the potential to dominate the field, especially with Essa behind the wheel. There's no escaping it, 911 Turbos are monsters, and this one has Moton Clubsport coilovers (cha-ching!) and a ton of other suspension and engine goodies. With some weight reduction, the results would have been far more interesting.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, GSR also brought a Mercedes CLS63 AMG. It's a burnout machine but these aren't always the best choice for a track event. If our dyno competition been based on torque figures, however, things would've worked out differently, because the CLS made a whopping 816 lb-ft, thanks to two turbos and 6.3-liters of displacement. Overall, both cars were solid additions to the lineup and performed without a hiccup, because that's what you expect from GSR Autosport.
2009 BMW 335i / 1995 BMW M3
Location: El Monte, CA
LTMotorwerks, formerly LTBMW, has made an incredible name for itself in the SoCal BMW community in the last few years, which is pretty remarkable for a shop that started in the owner's home garage. It's become a one-stop-shop with everything from full body conversions, custom spoilers, paint and repairs from their in-house body shop and paint booth, to motor swaps, turbo installations, suspension swaps, etc.
In this year's GP, LTMW showed up with two different animals. The '95 E36 M3 belongs to co-owner Ivan Madrigal and is a track toy: a really awesome toy with rock-chipped paint, a piercing exhaust note and wide wheels making it look the part. It walks the walk, too, making 420whp and weighing very little.
At the other end of the spectrum was the E90 335i belonging to Darren Yoo. The car started life as a regular automatic daily driver, but now the only original thing left is (unfortunately) the transmission. Otherwise, LT fitted M3 body parts and painted it Porsche GT3 RS grey, and fitted HREs. The stock turbos were upgraded and then swapped for a Vishnu/FFTec single-turbo kit with custom LTMotorwerks center-exit exhaust system. This combination gave tons of power: in fact, it had more than any other car in the event. Next up should be a six-speed conversion...
1995 BMW M3
Location: San Marcos, CA
Finally, we had an oddball that went by the name of EV West. The company is in the business of converting gas-powered cars to high performance electric vehicles. To do this, it even manufactures proprietary parts for people who want to do their own conversions.
What vehicle did they choose to build for themselves? An E36 M3, of course. And this example makes a mind-bending 840 lb-ft of torque almost instantly. It's a monster. They even made it to the top of Pikes Peak this year and hold the record for the fastest gas-converted vehicle up the mountain. They're now building an electric off-road racer to compete in the Baja 1000.
While torque is nice, so is horsepower, and the M3 made 382hp, but the problem is the car tips the scales at 3800 lb with its battery packs.
Another disadvantage is that the relatively narrow E36 body meant the team was only able to fit 275-section tires under the rear. With so much torque, it certainly needed more rubber. Even so, it can hit 60mph in under 4sec and has a direct drive, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission without a torque converter. Welcome to the future!
|Car/Tuner||Engine||Drivetrain||Brakes||Suspension||Wheels & Tires||Exterior|
2001 Audi A4
Dyno: 595.9whp / 501.2 lb-ft (2nd)
Lap time: 1:22.386 (1st)
|bored and stroked 1.8T 20v enlarged to 2.0-liter with tall-deck block and long rod ratio, stage 3 ported AEB head, Supertech oversized valves and springs, titanium retainers, 034/CAT Cams, JE pistons, 034 rods, dry sump, Precision CEA 6262 ball-bearing turbocharger, 034 stage IIc ECU, DIS coils, race header and 3.5" exhaust, Evo 8 intercooler, AEM intercooler and water spray system||Audi 01E six-speed transmission with 1-2 dog gears, short ratio 3-6 gears, JHM 5:1 center diff, 034 clutch-type rear diff, DSS front axles, 034 billet flywheel, Tilton 7" clutch, JHM spherical short shifter and linkage||Alcon four-piston calipers, 330mmrotors f, 034 four-piston rear brake kit, AP Racing pedal box with bias bar||PSI/Ohlins TTX four-way adjustable dampers with Eibach springs, OEM Avant front sway bar, 034 blade-type rear sway bar, 034 front and rear control arms and sway bar end-links||17x9.5" Enkei PF01 wheels, 285/40 R17 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||carbon fiber hood, RS4 composite fenders and front bumper, front splitter, rear diffuser, carbon APR wing, carbon sunroof delete panel|
|■ Platte Forme AG
2001 BMW M3
Dyno: 473whp / 324.5 lb-ft (8th)
Lap time: 1:23.119 (2nd)
|3.2-liter inline-six 24v with ESS Tuning VT2-500+ supercharger kit, Okada Projects coils, AEM water/meth kit, Platte Forme headers, custom 3.5" single-exit exhaust, custom oil cooler, coolant tank, oil catch can and power steering cooler, Delrin mounts||six-speed manual transmission with AKG chassis-mount shifter, JB Racing flywheel, Clutchmasters FX500, BMW Motorsport V8 LSD upgrade and 3.91:1 final drive, TMS solid differential and subframe mounts, Platte Forme subframe reinforcement kit, diff oil cooler, Delrin mounts||Brembo six-piston calipers and 355mm rotors f, Platte Forme duct kit, Project Mu pads and fluid||Platte Forme/JRZ Race three-way coilovers, Ground Control camber plates, Weight Jacker, camber arms, sway bars, race FCAB, race RTAB||18x10.5" Klassen MS-02 wheels, 275/35 R18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||Platte Forme lip and front splitter, side skirt extensions, valance, Voltex GT rear wing and canards|
|■ Berk Technology
2008 BMW 135i
Dyno: 402whp / 419.2 lb-ft (10th)
Lap time: 1:23.893 (3rd)
|3.0-liter N54 inline-six 24v twin-turbo with Berk race exhaust system, AEM meth injection, GIAC software||six-speed manual, OS Giken LSD||Performance Friction Z-Rated four-piston calipers, 355mm rotors all round, PFC01 pads||KW V3 coilovers||18x9.5" VMR wheels, 275/35 R18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||V-Fiber body kit, APR front splitter and GT wing, Seibon carbon hood and trunk|
|■european auto source
2011 BMW M3
Dyno: 574.2whp / 383.2 lb-ft (4th)
Lap time: 1:26.811 (4th)
|4.0-liter V8 32v with VF-Engineering VF-620 supercharger kit, Akrapovic Evolution titanium exhaust||DCT dual-clutch automatic||AP Racing six-piston calipers, 368mm rotors f, four-piston, 356mm r||KW Clubsport coilovers||18x9.5" f, 18x10.5" r Volk TE37SL wheels, 275/35 R18 f,295/35 R18 r Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||APR GTC-250 M3-spec adjustable rear wing, Vorsteiner GTS-V carbon fiber front lip and rear diffuser|
|■ GSR Autosport
2008 Porsche 911 Turbo
Dyno: 493.1whp / 552.7 lb-ft (6th) Lap time: 1:26.855 (5th)
|3.6-liter boxer-6 twin-turbo, Protomotive software, Evolution Motorsport intercoolers, BBi under-drive pulley, coil packs, GT3 throttle body, IPD plenum and Y-pipe, BMC filters, Europipe exhaust with 100-cell cats, RSS tips, Aquamist HFS3-V2 meth injection||six-speed manual, B&M short throw shifter, Sachs Sport clutch||GiroDisc lines||Moton Club Sport coilovers, Eibach springs, H&R sway bars, Tarett links, monoball front camber plate, monoball rear shock plate, GT3 lower control arms||19x8.5" f, 19x12" r Tech 1 Concave Superalloy wheels, 245/35 R19 f, 285/35 R19 r Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||Aero kit front lip, GT2 side skirts, ROTtec carbon rear diffuser and mirror caps, Cargraphic rear spoiler, TechArt GT3 front bumper vent|
|■ Eurocode Tuning
2012 Audi S4
Dyno: 492.2whp / 476.8 lb-ft (7th)
Lap time: 1:27.095 (6th
|3.0-liter V6 24v supercharged with APR software and coolant system, Eurocode intake, after-cooler radiator and long-tube headers||six-speed manual, Meisterwerk short shifter||StopTech STR-60 Trophy six-piston calipers, 380mm rotors f, Street pads, braided lines||KW V3 coilovers, Alu Kreuz drivetrain stabilizer, ÜSS adjustable stabilizer bars and end-links||19x9.5" BBS CH-R wheels, 275/35 R19 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||Audi Exclusive Signal Green|
1995 BMW M3
Dyno: 420.2whp / 335.8 lb-ft (9th)
Lap time: 1:28.327 (7th)
|3.0-liter inline-six 24v JMS build with JE pistons, ported/polished head, stage 2 Active Autowerke supercharger, LTMW custom exhaust||five-speed transmission, ACT clutch||AP Racing four-piston calipers, 330mm rotors f, stock r||KW Clubsport coilovers, Hotchkis sway bars||17x9.5" Advan RGII wheels, 245/45 R17 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||BMW M3 Lightweight front splitter, Voltex wing|
2009 BMW 335i
Dyno: 597whp / 550 lb-ft (1st)
Lap time: 1:28.748 (8th)
|3.0-liter N54 inline-six 24v with Vishnu/FFTec single-turbo conversion, LTMW custom exhaust||automatic transmission||Brembo Gran Turismo six-piston calipers, 355mm rotors f, four-piston, 345mm r||KW Clubsport coilovers||18x10" f, 18x10.5" r HRE R43 wheels, 275/35 R18 f, 285/35 R18 r Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||M3 body panels, Porsche GT3 RS grey paint|
|■ GSR Autosport
2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Dyno: 551.7whp / 816.3 lb-ft (5th)
Lap time: 1:28.801 (9th)
|5.5-liter V8 32v bi-turbo, AMG Performance Package, Renntech R1 Tuning Package, downpipes, Renntech intercooler pump, K&N filters||stock||Portfield R4-S pads||KW HLS||19x9” f, 19x10” r AMG wheels, 265/30 R19 f, 285/30 R19 r Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||custom carbon wing|
|■ Euro Sport Accessories
2004 VW R32
Dyno: 386.5whp / 378.5 lb-ft (12th)
Lap time: 1:28.959 (10th)
|3.2-liter VR6 24v with 9:1 head spacer, VF-Engineering turbo kit, GIAC software, custom intercooler, Eurospec 264˚ cams, 2.5" exhaust||six-speed manual with Clutchmasters FX100 clutch kit||Hawk HT-10 pads, braided lines||Bilstein Sport shocks, H&R springs, SBC front camber kit, adjustable rear control arms, Euro Sport Accessories rear cross brace||18x8.5" Avant Garde M310 wheels, 245/35 R18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||stock|
|■ HPA Motorsports
2012 VW Golf R
Dyno: 392.3whp / 349.8 lb-ft (11th)
Lap time: 1:32.035 (11th)
|2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI 16v with HPA hybrid turbo, fuel pump, front-mount intercooler, HGP intake manifold, downpipe, 100-cell cat, exhaust bypass||six-speed manual, Haldex Gen4 Competition controller||HPA six-piston calipers, 355mm rotors f, slotted rotors r||KW Clubsport coilovers||19x8.5" BBS CH wheels, 235/35 R19 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||stock|
|■ EV West
1995 BMW M3
Dyno: 382.6whp / 840.6 lb-ft (13th)
Lap time: 1:32.581 (12th)
|two 11" Twin Warp DC motorsBattery: 80 180Ah CALB Lithium LiFePO4 cells||two-speed direct-drive Powerglide transmission, torque converter removed, external pump||StopTech six-piston calipers, 355mm rotors f, two-piston 332mm r||Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Eibach springs, Ground Control camber/caster plates, sway bars||18x9.5" Sparco Assetto Gara wheels, 275/35 R18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||carbon hood, doors and sunroof, Bimmerworld splitter, Sneed Speed wing, Lexan rear window|
|■ Bluewater Performance
2007 VW Rabbit
Dyno: 594.4whp / 553.7 lb-ft (3rd)
Lap time: DNS
|2.5-liter five-cylinder with JE pistons, IE rods, fuel rail and surge tank, 1200cc injectors, Bosch 044 fuel pump, prototype cams, Ferrea valves and springs, Bluewater Performance Bonneville turbo kit, Precision PT6765 turbo, T4 manifold, Bluewater short-runner intake manifold, Tread Stone intercooler, 44mm TiAL MVR wastegate, Bluewater 3" downpipe and exhaust, stage 4 Flex Fuel conversion, oil cooler, CSR electric water pump, BSH mounts||02M Audi TT AWD six-speed manual transmission, Tilton twin-disc clutch, FST flywheel, ’08 R32 Haldex rear diff, R32 driveshaft crossmember, rear subframe and axles, BSH mounts||StopTech four-piston calipers, 355mm rotors f,R32 calipers, 312mm rotors r||JC Cross Competition coilovers, H&R sway bars, BSH end-links||18x10.5" CCW Classic wheels, 295/35 R18 Continental ExtremeContact DW tires||VW Thunder Bunny body kit, custom fender flares|
Classes & cars
■ Time attack
’01 Audi A4
Platte Forme AG
’01 BMW M3
’08 BMW 135i
’09 BMW 335i
european auto source
’11 BMW M3
’11 Mercedes CLS63 AMG
’08 Porsche 911 Turbo
’95 BMW M3
’07 VW Rabbit
’12 Audi S4
’12 VW Golf R
Euro Sport Accessories
’04 VW R32
■ Electric Vehicle
’95 BMW M3