While most teenagers are still getting accustomed to freeway driving at the ripe old age of 17, JT Coupal is already working his way up the ranks of motorsport. Coupal got his start in racing in SCCA's Spec Miata class back in 2015, racking up four championships in his rookie season before going on to win two national championship events in the World Karting Association National Road Racing Series.
Racing has been his passion for as long as he can remember, having gone to Watkins Glen to watch sports car racing countless times before he hit double digits. He has raced in places like Dubai and Italy, and has aspirations of driving professionally while attending college as a journalism major over the next four years.
These days Coupal is campaigning an Audi RS3 LMS in the TC class of the Pirelli World Challenge for Berg Racing, a performance tuning and custom-fabrication facility in Rochester, New York, that provides race support, dyno tuning, and custom fabrication for a wide variety of foreign and domestic street performance and track-oriented vehicles. Along with Berg Racing's sponsorship, Coupal also gets support from Redcom Laboratories, Micro Precision Components, and Bilstein Shock Absorbers—not a bad bunch to be involved with.
Though it might be easy to dismiss Coupal's RS3 LMS Clubsport as a road-going RS3 with a wild body kit at a glance, the changes made to the RS3 by both Audi Sport and Berg Racing to prep the car for customer racing go well beyond skin deep.
Eligible to be campaigned in the Swedish Touring Car Championship, the VLN Endurance Championship, and various touring car classes worldwide, the RS3 LMS Clubsport's bodywork is a combination of steel, fiberglass and carbon fiber composites. Functional modifications are the order of the day here, with downforce provided by a large front splitter, extended side sills, and a massive rear wing, while a heat extractor on the hood keeps engine bay temperatures down and the bulging fenders provide clearance for the Clubsport's 18x10-inch OZ racing wheels and Pirelli racing slicks.
Inside the RS3 LMS Clubsport it's all business. Gone are the luxury appointments of the RS3 road car, replaced by purpose-built racing hardware like the Alcantara-wrapped, quick-release steering wheel and Motec digital instrumentation. Driver aids are prohibited in touring car racing, so the RS3 LMS Clubsport also ditches the anti-lock braking, traction and stability control, and active differential features of the road car.
A full roll-cage with additional reinforcement by Berg Racing enhances both safety and vehicle rigidity, while a single FIA GT3-spec race bucket is on hand to keep Coupal firmly in place during the high-speed lateral maneuvers this RS3 is capable of. Safety is further bolstered by replacing the RS3's conventional gas tank with of a 26.4-gallon, FIA-spec fuel cell, while a fire extinguisher is mounted in the cockpit as mandated by sanctioning body regulations.
Dry weight of the vehicle is roughly 2,700 pounds when equipped with Audi's ASCR LMS-spec DSG transmission, as Coupal's car is. Audi Sport can also outfit the RS3 LMS Clubsport with a six-speed sequential gearbox by customer request, which saves roughly 75 pounds over the DSG.
DRIVETRAIN AND CHASSIS
Under the hood is a transversally mounted 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged mill built to Audi Sport specifications that makes 330 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed, paddle-shifted DSG gearbox and a VAQ electro-hydraulic differential, a combination that's said to be good for a 0-62 mph sprint of 4.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 149 miles per hour.
Steering is of the electrically assisted, rack-and-pinion variety, and sports software and hardware that's been modified beyond road-going RS3 spec in order to meet the demands of touring car racing. Coupal's RS3 LMS Clubsport rides on Eibach springs and Bilstein shocks, and the front and rear sway bars are both three-way adjustable to help dial in the setup for different track surfaces and conditions.
Six-piston calipers provide stopping power with 14.9-inch ventilated rotors up front, while two-piston calipers clamp down on 10.7-inch discs at the rear. And rather than the standard electronic emergency brake used in the RS3 road car, Coupal's LMS Clubsport features a hydraulic e-brake with a hand-controlled lever next to the center console.
While Coupal's car might lose a step to the standard RS3 in a drag race since it's a bit down on power and short one cylinder, the RS3 LMS Clubsport's lighter weight, improved aerodynamics and enhanced grip ultimately allow it to run circles around the road car when unleashed on a race track. Don't believe us? Catch Coupal and his Audi RSI LMS Clubsport mixing it up with the rest of the PWC field later this month at Virginia International Raceway and see for yourself.
JT would like to thank:
BERG Racing - Rochester, NY's premier racing, performance tuning and custom fabrication facility. Providing race support, racing conversions, race coaching, dyno tuning, performance installations and custom fabrication for a wide variety of foreign and domestic street performance and track oriented vehicles.
REDCOM Laboratories, INC - private woman-owned small business based in Victor, New York. For 40 years REDCOM has been developing and manufacturing the world's most reliable digital and IP-enabled telecommunications systems for commercial carriers, utilities, emergency response and defense applications.
Micro Precision Components - specializing in high precision machining with a specialty in Swiss screw machining and micro machining