It seems like decades have elapsed since we first announced we'd be taking part in the Castrol Syntec Top Shop Challenge. As the name suggests, it's sponsored by Castrol's leading Syntec lubricant and they challenge et, plus six other magazines within our group, to an engine war.
Last month you would have read how our chosen champions, 034 Motorsport in Fremont, CA had taken our Audi 80 2.3 liter 20v engine one step closer to victory. To recap, the 20v has a fully built bottom end, special heads, massive 1250cc injectors feeding the turbo mounted on an 034 stainless steel header. Passing through a huge intercooler and gaping throttle body, the air and fuel is ignited by the 034EFI stage IIc engine management system that control the sparks.
Last month, the team at 034 Motorsport (www.034motorsport.com) were able to run a 60mm wastegate to control the boost curve at around 40psi. By rigging the engine into its Audi 80 and running it on their chassis dyno they attempted to simulate the conditions the engine would experience on the engine dyno in the competition.
Under these jerry-rigged conditions the engine kicked out 760hp at the wheels, and 560 lb-ft of torque using 120-octane. After experimenting with timing, boost and turbo size, they eventually settled on the GT42RS turbo over the larger GT45 because it made more power under the curve - an important judging criteria in the Challenge. Running on the regulation 100-octane, this set up netted 703whp at 8800rpm on 36psi.
According to Javad Shadzi from 034, the biggest factor was 100-octane fuel. Trying to make so much power on a lower octane than we'd normally use took far more tuning than normal. This is now probably the best motor I've ever built because we've had to stretch ourselves to make this octane work. We've definitely pushed the engine as far as it'll go on boost and timing. We're actually making more power on less boost because of the octane. He revealed. "As we raised the boost, we've had to raise timing to the point where we're almost approaching 0 - we're running about 8 at peak power, which isn't a lot for this sort of motor."In the continuous bid for reliability, 034 has installed vacuum pump on the motor. They report it pulls up to 10 of vacuum at 4000rpm and holds 5 to redline.
The advantage of a vacuum pump is it protects the motor from crankcase pressure and helps the piston rings seal against the cylinder walls by sucking out the pressure the boosted engine creates. "It took as a while to finalize the setup," Javad explained. "We had to experiment with it and are now running two oil catch cans to trap the oil that's inevitably sucked out of the crankcase by the pump, returning it to the sump. But it should be worth it as this sort of pump can typically gain 20-30hp."Another of Javad's ingenious devices is the air-to-water intercooler (chargecooler). It's required because the engine obviously won't be getting sufficiently airflow while sat in the dyno room, so a conventional intercooler would be useless. The 034 solution was to install a chargecooler on the engine. The air passing through it is cooled by a continuous flow of water. And to keep the water cool they installed heat exchangers in a Walmart cooler box filled with ice. Using a flow of regular tap water through cooler, they expect to drop inlet temps from 250 to around 40-50F. If this doesn't work sufficiently, they have the option of using dry ice in the cooler as well.
This is the time to remind you to visit www.syntectopshop.com
At the site you can vote for your favorite motor and enter a sweepstake to win your favorite motor - which should obviously be ours!
The way it works is you enter the sweepstakes by choosing the motor you think has the best chance of winning the Castrol Syntec Top Shop Challenge. If your chosen engine does win the challenge, your name will be entered to win that engine. And just in case you don't think it's worth taking the time to complete the sweepstake entry form, we should mention 034 Motorsport estimates the engine to be worth in excess of $30,000. Do we have your attention now?
The winning engine builder receives $25k in prize money, but you can see our builder won't cover their costs if they do win - they're simply in it for pride and honor.
When you visit www.syntectopshop.com you can also see a video from 034, catch up on our stories, and even play games in Castrol's Torture Chamber.
Having looked at our fellow competitors, we pretty confident of winning. Below is a summary of where everybody stands at present but you can find all the details and videos at www.syntectopshop.com
Import Tuner is building a 2.2 liter SR20DET at G-Dimension and is also aiming for 1000hp. It should be a competitor to our 2.3 liter but it's still not finished past the deadline and should technically be disqualified!
Lowrider went from a ZZ427 big block to a 350 small block. The twin-turbo motor has apparently tested to 1500hp, which is impressive until you employ the two-times turbo multiplier that was designed to help naturally aspirated V8s. Then we're facing a 12 liter motor that only makes 1500hp, so we should beat it.
Modified is having AMS build the Evo's 4G63 motor. They're expected to be a major competitor but again, the motor wasn't ready on time and should have been DQ'ed!
Sport Compact Car had Cosworth build them a Nissan VQ35DE from the 350Z. Fortunately, it's a naturally aspirated motor so will struggle to match the turbos.
Super Street went to Bisimoto to build an F22A Honda Accord engine. It's about 20 years old, single cam and non-VTEC, so it's a long shot.
Turbo magazine and SP Engineering were building a Toyota Supra twin-turbo but later switched to the Skyline's RB26DETT motor. It has a 2.8 HKS stroker kit and a single turbo so could be a contender.
All the engines in the Castrol Syntec Top Shop Challenge will be judged on various criteria. These will include peak horsepower and torque per liter of displacement. Forced induction engines will be given a multiplier of two, making our 2.3 liter Audi motor equivalent to a 4.6 liter. Power under the curve will also be assessed, making it important to have a broad powerband, rather than a peaky motor. There will also be a 30-minute drive cycle to test longevity and build quality. Finally, build quality and craftsmanship will be judged.
Only production engines are allowed. Only one forced induction system is permitted (either a turbo or a supercharger, but not both). Fuel is limited to 100 octane, no additives. However, methanol, auxiliary fuel or water injection is allowed. The final testing will be done on an engine dyno. Teams will have the ability to fine-tune the engines before the official runs are made.