Day two of etGP07 promised to be a thriller. The prospect of so many powerful cars and the newly built drag strip at California Speedway meant we were assured fireworks on the day.
To our surprise, only six of the ten competitors were actually on-site when we arrived in the morning, and only three were ready to start when the strip opened at 9am. This was surprising because it doesn't take a genius to understand the colder morning air is more beneficial to power delivery, and afternoon temps typically exceed 90F in Fontana, CA, where the track is located.
First car up the strip was the Fireballed! Mini, but its 415hp inevitably presented catastrophic traction problems.
The next car was 034, and as they were drag champs from last year's etGP, we expected its quattro system to cope better with the power delivery. After an incredibly hard launch, the car ran 12.24sec out of the box, letting everybody know they were here to win.
The third car was ABD, their GTI hitting 13.77 with an almost perfect launch.
The Euro Sport Rabbit was up next, running mid-14s and within a tenth of a second of the car's best ever time. "The Falken tires seem to be working for us," commented Vic Kazanjian, "Giving just enough slip to launch without bogging down off the line."
Mini Madness was in the mid-14s as well, but was experimenting with launch technique and gear change points, finally getting a 13.9 after a few goes.
Meanwhile, Torque Factory turned up with their S4 and got the first launch wrong, bogging down off the line to run a 13.1. However, they returned to put down a 12.2 on the second run and let 034 know they wouldn't have it all their own way.
WRD was next on the line and they got into the low 14s. It seems John Gardner from WRD wasn't expecting much since he didn't even wear a crash helmet - unnecessary unless you slower than 13.9. However, he hit a 13.8 on his third run and was sent for a costume change.
Back on stage was 034, who ran 11.1sec at 133mph. We knew there was a ten in the car, so egged them on. But on the next run they hit 11.09, tantalizingly close. "We haven't changed the boost since our first run," they said, "but we have been experimenting with shift patterns."
After that run, Torque Factory was back and hit 11.7sec at 121mph once the driver had perfected the take-off.
The first casualty of the day was ABD. On its second run the GTI burnt out its clutch off the line and limped back to the trailer.
However, the team was determined to run again, so they set off for their workshops to replace the clutch and return later in the day. As it turns out, confusion of the torque values for the flywheel bolts meant the bolts were stripped out of the crank when they did eventually return, putting them out of action for the rest of the day.
By now, we were questioning the masculinity of the 034 team and asking why they hadn't broken into the tens, so the A4 duly responded with 10.9sec at 134mph - the first 10sec run in etGP and a real testimony to the engine, transmission and Falken tires.
At the other end of the spectrum, Euro Sport had let their little Rabbit cool down and Vic had taken over driver duties from brother Raffi. He hit 14.5 consistently over a number of runs, but was struggling to match Raffi's times in the cooler morning air.
The late arrivals included the Audis of EuroCode and Stasis, who worked quickly to get on the track. First up was the Stasis TT, which ran 14.1 on the first attempt, then 13.9 with a great deal of wheelspin. It turns out, this was the first ever quarter mile Adam Pecorari had attempted - preferring to win touring car races for the Stasis World Challenge team!
A crowd of interested onlookers arrived for the first run by the EuroCode S4. As the most powerful car from day one, expectations were high. However, the first launch was ugly, as the car bogged off the line. However, it still hit 11.2 with more to come. But this raised another issue since cars under 11.99sec need a rollcage and EuroCode hadn't fitted one. In fact, they wanted to prove they could win the event with a full interior.
Stasis continued to improve, getting the times down to 13.5sec with different launch techniques. However, the launch control system built into the factory DSG transmission's software didn't seem to be helping much...
Since Torque Factory was now bettered by two other teams, their S4 returned to stake its claim. They put down two runs close to 12 dead, then hit 11.9 and finally got to 11.7 again. "That's about as fast as it'll get," the team told us, as they went away to scratch their heads and ponder the problem.
The final car to hit the strip was the VF GTI. It had been the most powerful FWD car on day one and they'd obviously thought about ways of finding traction. The team had welded a pair of stock rear shocks to raise the back of the car. Learning from dragsters, they hoped to avoid weight transfer off the front tires when the car launched. However, the first run produced a 14.3sec with wheelspin for about two-thirds of the track. The team was doggedly determined to overcome the traction problems and successive runs saw the times drop to 13.7, 13.5 and eventually 13.3sec. Yet they felt there was still more to come and continued to run the car all day. Along with the Stasis TT, they ran more often than any other team, by a considerable margin and yet the car didn't even look like breaking.
Meanwhile, EuroCode was struggling to find the speed of its initial run as the air temperature continued to rise. They eventually hit 11.3sec, then finally reached 11 dead before we began to question their insistence on retaining the full interior. After that, they disappeared back to their trailer and stripped out the seats and removed the exhaust. Returning to the track, the S4 ripped to 10.87sec at 131mph and was promptly removed from the track by the officials for not having a cage fitted.
That left the door open for 034 to return and take the victory. Try as they might, they just couldn't beat their earlier time, handing the victory to EuroCode.
However, Torque Factory had tried a similar trick, also removing their interior and exhaust. The car immediately ripped to a couple of 11.4sec passes with near perfect launches. However, the team wanted to keep the car healthy for day three, so retired in third place.
With VF setting the fastest FWD time, Fireballed! persisted in their attempt to set a fast time. However, traction was still proving an issue, even with the boost turned right down. The team estimated they were only producing about 330hp by the final run but the incessant wheelspin casued the engine to drop a valve, putting them out of the event.
By 11am, most cars had stopped running, two had broken and the best times had all been set. The VF and Stasis teams continued to run but neither improved on their times, so we sat around until they got bored at 4pm!
This had been the fastest drag competition in etGP history. And just as the dyno event showed how much the competitors had improved since last year, the drag strip highlighted the incredible speed to be had from these cars.
|QUARTER-MILE COMPETITION AWD|
|1. EuroCode Tuning||10.87 @ 131.66mph|
|2. 034Motorsport||10.93 @ 134.36mph|
|3. Torque Factory||11.40 @ 123.71mph|
|QUARTER-MILE COMPETITION FWD|
|1. VF-Engineering/GIAC||13.31 @ 117.28mph|
|2. Stasis Engineering||13.52 @ 110.39mph|
|3. ABD Racing||13.77 @ 110.82mph|
|4. WRD||13.86 @ 105.64mph|
|5. Mini-Madness||13.92 @ 102.28mph|
|6. Euro Sport Accessories||14.39 @ 96.46mph|
|7. Fireballed! Racing||15.32 @ 107.66mph|