The 2007 eurotuner magazine Tuner Grand Prix, or etGP07 as it's affectionately known, was a great success and provided more than a few surprises for everybody. Possibly the biggest surprise was just how far the performance envelope had been stretched in the year since etGP06. This was seen notably on the dyno and drag strip, where pure horsepower rules. However, an underdog caused a big upset on the road course as well. So settle down with a coffee and enjoy the next 14 pages of the Tuner Grand Prix.
As you know, GP is our annual shoot-out for tuner cars. We invite the biggest and the baddest to put up or shut up.
Each year we explain it's not so much a competition as a battle for honor and respect. It's our opportunity to scrutinize specific products and see if they meet the tuner's claims. So don't imagine the fastest and most powerful car wins. Yes, the team with the highest numbers has something to brag about, but that's not the whole story.
The GP isn't a head-to-head competition because many of the cars we invite can't be directly compared. Instead it's a tool for measuring the relative performance of various tuning options, where you can examine what the tuners are capable of on specific platforms. If you have a Mk5 GTI or GLI, for example, there were four conversions in GP that should appeal to you.
Basically, etGP is a shop window where you can browse tuning conversions under the harshest conditions and draw your own conclusions about what will work for you.
The FormatETGP is a test of speed, power and poise. We scrutinize the cars on the dyno for outright power, the drag strip to reinforce those numbers and finally on the road course to see how the package of engine, brakes and suspension perform under sustained pressure.
This year we had decided to split up the competitors into front-, rear- and all-wheel drive classes. However, this soon became redundant when all the invited BMW tuners once again backed out, leaving us with no RWD chassis. Considering the enormous horsepower many BMW tuners claim, we can't understand why nobody's prepared to prove their worth. It's a genuine mystery.
So that left us with FWD and AWD categories. This still worked well because it gave us the opportunity to reward the fastest FWD cars with their own class wins, because we can't imagine the day a GTI will beat an S4 on the dyno or strip, especially when you see the power the Audis are now delivering.
We like to reward excellence, so we handed out trophies to the best FWD and AWD cars in each discipline. With six trophies on offer, plus a seventh for the car with the best overall performance, you'll see from our cover that only four made the grade. That's not to say the other cars weren't worthy competitors because this year's GP was the closest ever.
Like every etGP, the rule is there are no rules - except no nitrous in the engine. And because several teams had a big advantage through tire choice in previous years, we again decided to level the playing field by supplying all the teams with Falken FK-452 tires. This is a good high-performance tire that stood up to the drag and track abuse surprisingly well. We had originally hoped to provide the teams with the same R-compound RT-615 tires that were used last year, but some teams wanted to use bigger sizes than were available in the 615 range. The irony is, those teams later backed out!
Fortunately, the 452 was a good tire and certainly provided the level playing field we required. We also have to thank Falken Tire for its continued support of etGP because without them, GP literally wouldn't happen.
On the GT Pro dyno day, teams are allowed three pulls and can tune in between, so we expect high numbers and are rarely let down.
The California Speedway drag strip is unrestricted. Line up, run against the clock and keep coming back for more. Generally, the fastest times are set in the cooler morning air, but mechanical problems and some late arrivals meant the action lasted most of the day.
Finally, the road course at Streets of Willow provides the ultimate test of man and machine. This is the event every team wants to win, and is the real indicator of car prep. This is where the lip-flapping stops and the boys sit down.