We'd like to thank everybody who applied to contest the upcoming Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge on our behalf. It was a tough decision to make, but we found a car with the power, spec and experience we hope can take the crown - the B5 Audi S4. Equipped with a twin-turbo V6, all-wheel drivetrain, four doors and good looks, the S4 had it all. Not to mention, the B5 S4 succeeded in nearly every eurotuner Grand Prix in the past.
So when Mike Ghaemi sent us an application with his '00 S4, we were confident his S4 would perform well on the road course, quarter-mile and dyno, as well as score high for power-to-weight ratio, emissions and endurance in traffic.
With a drag racing background driving Buick Grand Nationals, we were surprised when Mike told us he's owned eight B5 S4s in his lifetime. "When I was moving away from domestics, nothing else was twin-turbo and all-wheel drive with a six-speed like the S4. So I was drawn to Audi for that reason," he told us.
Mike's latest S4 is perhaps the most complete he's conceived. With his vast experience, he already knew the perfect formula of parts to build his ultimate road machine. "I wanted to build a car that performed like a racecar but in full street trim," he explained.
The 2.7 V6 30v motor was rebuilt at Wicked Motorsport in Van Nuys, CA. The block was bored to 2.8 with JE pistons and Cunningham rods. Compression was dropped from 9.3:1 to 8.8:1 in anticipation of higher boost. The heads were ported and polished for better airflow. Mike then upgraded to cams from the naturally-aspirated 2.8 liter Audi V6 to help with top-end power once the new turbochargers arrived from Autospeed Performance.
The new setup used twin Garrett GT28RS turbos, a new exhaust manifold, high-flow downpipes and Motronic software. A set of 630cc injectors, 5-bar fuel pressure regulator and inline Bosch fuel pump would address the thirstier motor. More heat would obviously be a problem with the larger turbos, so two Evolution Racewerks side-mount intercoolers were fitted with the company's carbon fiber shrouds.
There's also a Vast Performance water/meth injection kit, but Mike had to remove it to comply with the rules of the competition...
With this setup, Mike dyno-tested the car at more than 700whp using C16 fuel. Unfortunately, the challenge rules don't allow this gas, but Mike's hoping to get close with the permitted 109-octane fuel after ignition timing adjustments.
The six-speed manual remains, with the inclusion of polished gears and a Tilton twin-disc clutch from Autospeed.
For suspension, Mike chose Tracksport coilovers from Stasis Engineering, which utilize Koni linear-rate springs and adjustable dampers. Additionally, Stern control arms were supplied by Pure Motorsport, as well as a Neuspeed rear sway bar and AutoPower four-point roll-bar.
Stopping power will be critical for the overall balance of the S4, so Mike continued his relationship with Stasis by picking up a pair of 328mm (13") Alcon front brakes. The two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers are lightweight and have performed well for Mike in the past.
The stock wheels were recently ditched for a set of lightweight 17x8" OZ Superleggeras. But the next major decision would be tires. Not allowed to run race rubber, Mike opted for the next best thing: a set of the new 245/45-17 Nitto NT01 tires.
The NT01 is a DOT-approved competition tire that offers a good balance of dry traction, heat cycle and longevity for the track, thanks to its road/race compound. The sidewalls use reinforced steel for quicker steering response, while the shoulder blocks are designed to give the maximum contact patch with the tarmac. Not intended for use in the rain or on long drives, the NT01 was designed for performance, which fits Mike's agenda.
Less concerned about appearance, the exterior and interior remain tame, although an attempt was made to lighten the car with a VIS carbon hood and removal of the rear seats, carpet, headliner and a other unnecessary items. He estimates the car now weighs 3400 lb with the driver.
Only a few days before the challenge, we're happy to report the S4 is ready for battle now that some early setbacks have been overcome. For example, less than a month ago he broke the axles while practicing on the quarter-mile. He also damaged the front-end, but it was quickly remedied.
We're confident Mike will represent the Euro community with honor, dominating the Japanese and domestic competition in the Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge. After all, Mike has a background with different types of car but continually returns to the Audi S4 as his car of choice.
Log on to SyntecTopCarChallenge.com for results from the Castrol Syntec Top Car Challenge, which will also appear in an upcoming issue of eurotuner.