Willow Springs Raceway
It's embarrassing to admit that Southern California has a shortage of quarter-mile tracks, so rather than cancel the drag racing component of the event like last year, we compromised and went with a 1000ft run on the front straight at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA.
Admittedly, this isn't the ideal setup since it's neither the correct 1320ft for a quarter-mile, nor is it a prepared surface and actually runs uphill slightly. So while these numbers aren't comparable to other drag racing times, they serve as a consistent measurement for our purposes.
Again, the cars were split into their respective classes (front-, rear- and all-wheel drive) and let loose for the best part of 3.5 hours. There was a burnout box in the pitlane before you turned onto the main straight to make your run. Competitors could run as often or as little as they wanted, ideally stopping before anything broke. We would be looking for each car's fastest time of the day, and that's what you see here.
At this year's Tuner GP, the drag times inevitably reflected horsepower and traction, with almost no surprises thrown up. In fact, you could almost predict the finishing positions based on the dyno numbers and the drivetrain. So it probably won't come as a shock to many people to see these powerful front-wheel drive cars at the bottom of the list, struggling for traction.
The best performance in this category came from the Revo Technik GTI, which spun its wheels for a great deal of its 11.6sec run, crossing the line at 101mph. It's nice to know you could challenge an older 911 with this street-tuned VW. However, the FSWerks Focus ST fared less well, running the course in 12sec at 92mph.
What is remarkable is that the Ford completed 13 runs, all within 0.2sec of each other, despite it having a manual transmission. We saw similar feats performed by cars with dual-clutch autos and launch control, so Vik Kazanjian's consistency behind the wheel was remarkable. Similarly, Robin Roemisch from Revo Technik ran 11 times within 0.3sec of each other.
EAS set the fastest RWD time after a long battle with Platte Forme's similar Z4 M
european car's M3 had too much power and not enough traction
Even on hard launches, the AccuAir suspension remained remarkably flat
The winner in this class was anybody's guess, but a trio of supercharged BMWs, including the pair of Z4Ms, looked likely candidates. However, we couldn't overlook our own M3 turbo, which had shown tremendous fortitude on the dyno, provided it could find traction. The Merc was an outside bet for top honours but a Porsche win seemed unlikely as well.
And as predicted, it fell to the two Z4M to battle for the win, with european auto source taking it by the narrowest margin. In fact, the time of 10.583sec at 107mph was barely 0.2sec quicker than Platte Forme. Having found the lost power during the dyno mishap, the Platte Forme crew was out for revenge and ran 10.602 at 105mph.
In their attempt to win, Platte Forme ran 14 times to the 13 by EAS. Again, the drivers were very consistent once they found traction, requiring a few runs to experiment with wheelspin, clutch slip and gear shift points.
The BMW teams also decided to remove the large rear spoilers, which seemed to gain a few fractions of a second. That said, it was a fascinating duel, lasting the entire session and we were pleased to report very little tire wear despite the abuse, leaving them in good shape for the road course.
Crossing the line just behind the Z4s was the GSR Autosport Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe. With its auto transmission, Michael Essa did four runs, all within 0.03sec of each other, so he wisely parked it after setting a time of 10.710 at 105mph. Michael felt there might have been another 0.1sec or so to be found, which would allow him to challenge the BMWs, but he didn't want to risk damaging the car in the process and not showing up for the track day.
Agonizingly close behind was the european car E46 M3 turbo, which ran a best time of 10.753sec at 113mph with Alex at the wheel. The second highest trap speed of the day speaks to the car's traction deficiency. However, it was also suffering boost issues, with the pressure inconsistent on each run. Despite this, it took a few attempts to find the sweet spot, and then the M3 ran consistently a handful of times before it was parked and allowed to cool off.
Nipping at his heels was Joe Yang in his E92 BMW M3 from Trinity Autosport. The best time of 10.9 at 107mph was tantalizingly close to the E46 but, after five runs within 0.05sec of each other, they also decided to call it quits.
Last place in the RWD class fell to Joey Seely from BBi Autopsort. With a severe power deficit in comparison to the other cars in the field, it was going to be an uphill struggle. However, the Porsche performed impressively, putting down a handful of runs that culminated in a best time of 11.1 at 101mph. But with the hint of a clutch problem, Joey decided to head home early and check out the problem in preparation for the track day.
While Christian Miller tackles the road course, company owner Javad Shadzi always takes the wheel of the 034 Motorsport entry for the drag racing. And despite getting lost at the end of the strip, he managed to record a best run of 9.579sec at 118mph. This was the quicker of two runs that would have set the fastest time of the day, and set the standard for the rest of the field.
Launching hard, with all four wheels spinning, the Audi TT RS looked impressive, but we've come to expect that from the 034 crew, who completed a handful of runs before sitting back and waiting to be beaten.
The Revo GTI struggled for traction but set respectable times to win the FWD class
Eurocode's S6 was a dark horse, looking completely stock, yet surprised everybody with the second quickest time of the day
Eurocode's S6 was a dark horse, looking completely stock, yet surprised everybody with the
GSR C63 was fast and consistent
Closest to realizing that scenario was the S6 from Eurocode Tuning. Although a last-minute replacement, the Audi had enough parts in place to make it competitive. And just like the TT, the quattro drivetrain made the most of the Continental tires.
With both Eurocode's Greg Fowler and car owner Tracee Twedell taking turns behind the wheel, the car was consistently in the 9.8sec bracket until an extra push found some extra speed to challenge for the win. With a 9.7sec run it was close, but not close enough...
Considering its relatively low power output, the AccuAir Audi S4 surprised everybody with a series of runs in the mid-10sec bracket. Although the team was anxious to prove its air suspension system on the road course, onlookers were impressed at how the system kept the car remarkably level when it launched. While the front-end on almost every other car would rise as weight was transferred backwards under acceleration, the AccuAir system kept the nose down and the front wheels gripping, helping to set a time of 10.56sec - faster than its 390hp output suggested.
||'12 Audi TT RS
||'13 Audi S6
||'13 Audi S4
|european auto source
||'08 BMW Z4M
||'06 BMW Z4M
||'12 Mercedes C63 AMG
||'03 BMW M3
||'08 BMW M3
||'85 Porsche 911
||'12 VW GTI
||'13 Ford Focus ST