Dyno Competition

As the first event of the Tuner GP, the dyno is always a tense affair. It's where the teams first meet their opponents and learn what they've brought to the battle. It's also where we discover who's packing the biggest punch and predictions are made for the track events.

One surprise was the absence of any cars in the Time Attack class. Last year, the track day was dominated by thinly disguised racecars, but ECGP13 was all about modified road cars. Admittedly, some were heavily modified, with stripped interiors, motorsport suspension and brakes plus superchargers or turbo conversions, but every car was more or less road legal.

In the past, the dyno day has been a feat of endurance. Sweltering in hot temps as each vehicle gets three pulls to find its zenith. However, the process was significantly simplified last year when we first moved to Church Automotive Testing in Wilmington, CA at the invitation of owner, Shawn Church.

In the past, testing this many cars was an all-day business, but Church's three Dynapack dynos bolt to the hubs ensuring consistency and accuracy. It's also removed all the controversy and arguing from the process since there's no chance of wheel slip, etc.

The Church team is amazingly efficient, bolting on the packs, wiring up the sensors and positioning the cooling fans in a few minutes. So while our selection of 11 Tuner GP contestants might have taken a full day in the past, for 2013 we were done in less than four hours.

With three Dynapacks, it's possible to run an AWD car in one cell, while a 2WD car is being prepared for testing. And the only problems we encountered last year were with traction control and automatic transmissions. However, Shawn and his team are very familiar with all the systems and quickly had each car running smoothly.

Like last year, the weather was hotter than usual for late September, which affected some of the later runners, but there wasn't a huge disadvantage thanks to the fans and the quick pulls. Most cars were tested before they suffered too much heat soak, and ice or nitrous was allowed to cool the intake if a team chose to.

As mentioned, up to three runs were allowed. This was mainly to ensure the cars had adapted to the dyno. We then record the best results here. In the past, we've considered taking an average of the runs but the Tuner GP is all about excellence. And since the Dynapack can't produce wheelspin, the numbers recorded should be an accurate measurement of what each engine was capable of. In fact, without the drag of tires on a roller, the Dynapacks tended to read slightly high, surprising several teams with more power than expected.

FWD

We're essentially starting in reverse order since the FWD class also had the smallest engines, but we were keen to see what each tuner had extracted from the 2.0T engine in their car.

Starting with the Revo Technik VW GTI, the tuner had shipped the car from its HQ in West Virginia, so we were delighted to have it compete. The TSI motor was fitted with Revo's K04 big turbo kit plus a Eurojet FMIC and 3" turbo-back exhaust with Revo's stage 3 software making it work in unison. Expectations were around 340hp but the Dynapack spun round to reveal 355hp and 366 lb-ft of torque, which brought a smile.

The second contender for FWD honors was the Ford Focus ST we built for SEMA 2012 with FSWerks and LTMotorwerks. Resplendent in its Porsche GT3 RS grey paint, and with Porsche wheels plus custom carbon spoilers, the Focus looked right at home with its European counterparts.

Entered into the Tuner GP by FSWerks (the Ford tuning division of VW/Audi specialist Euro Sport Accessories), the four-cylinder motor boasted an FSWerks intake, downpipe, exhaust system and software, plus a Forge Motorsport FMIC. However, the stock turbo and cat would present a major restriction, limiting output to 289hp, but with 390 lb-ft of torque, it should be fast on the track...

RWD

This was the biggest category in ECGP13 and would also be the hardest fought throughout the event. And for the first time in its 11-year history we were entering not one but two of our magazine project cars, although neither would be eligible for the class trophies we hand out.

In addition to the Focus ST, we also entered the european car E46 BMW M3. It belongs to Alex Bernstein, who would drive during the drag racing but sensibly handed it over to Michael Essa for the road course.

Fitted with a Maximum PSI stage 1 turbo kit, it had been completed shortly before the event and encountered a few problems on the dyno. The first was a lean mixture at high RPM, which forced the operator to lift off early to avoid a problem. However, it managed to record an astonishing 647hp and 499 lb-ft, which surprised everybody concerned.

In an attempt to save the engine, the boost was turned down for the third run, but it still produced 603hp, which would have kept it in the lead in the RWD class and the second most powerful car overall. However, because we wouldn't be taking home any of our own trophies, the RWD class win was awarded to the Trinity Autosport E92 BMW M3.

This coupe had apparently seen 601hp in a previous dyno test, but 568hp and 384 lb-ft was a great achievement on the day for its VF-Engineering supercharger.

Continuing to descend down the order, the GSR Autosport Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe defied expectations of 460hp from its long-tube headers and software upgrade, turning in a healthy run of 499hp and 471 lb-ft. However, this was almost matched by european auto source, which hit 492hp and 338 lb-ft with the ESS tuning supercharger on the BMW Z4M's 3.2-liter engine. Given the BMW's weight advantage over the Benz, it would be fascinating to see how these two cars would fare on the track.

Coincidentally, Platte Forme AG had decided to abandon its E46 M3 racecar from ECGP12 and enter an almost identical ESS-blown BMW Z4M. However, they had problems developing any horsepower on the dyno, with the power dying off at 6000rpm, where the engine only made 377hp.

After swapping the ignition coils and consulting with EAS and ESS, it appeared the tuner had been supplied with the wrong supercharger pulley, so a new one was bought. Unfortunately, this didn't immediately resolve the issue because the ECU had adapted to the conditions. However, they were able to clear them and the car ran fine for the remaining two days.

After the Tuner GP was completed, Platte Forme returned to Church Automotive and recorded 451hp and 315 lb-ft but these were under different conditions, so we've placed them at the bottom of the results table, yet still wanted to acknowledge what the engine was able to produce.

Last place in the RWD class went to the '85 Porsche 911 Carrera from BBi Autosport. The personal transport of Joey Seely from BBi, we persuaded the company to compete when we discovered Continental couldn't supply the enormous tires needed for its 1000hp Porsche 911 Turbo conversions. However, we were all delighted to see the gorgeous Carrera arrive and were curious to see how it would perform on the dyno.

Equipped with a 3.6L motor from a 964 RS America, it had been rebuilt by BBi with custom cams and 997 GT3 Cup Car titanium rods to allow high revs. Joey's expectation was for under 300hp, and the dyno showed it had 276hp and 256 lb-ft. With its low weight and sports car handling, we were all excited to see how the Porsche would fare on the track...

AWD

Despite traveling down from Fremont in Northern California for our Tuner GP, 034 Motorsport is traditionally the first to arrive, and 2013 was no different.

Ready for action, the team sprayed nitrous onto the intercooler and intake before the Audi TT RS began its runs. The tuner had seen power in the 600s before the event but was delighted when the Dynapack revealed a best run of 667hp and 566 lb-ft. This was credited to the APR stage 3 turbo kit, software, intercooler and fuel pump. It also benefited from 034's own downpipe and exhaust system.

So the most successful team in Tuner GP history had thrown down the gauntlet and the other teams would be scrambling to compete on level terms.

However, Eurocode Tuning was also a previous ECGP champion and wouldn't be taking it lying down, despite the loss of their first choice car. The shop's modified 2013 Audi S4 suffered a transmission failure several days before the event, putting their participation in jeopardy. At the last minute, they decided to run the '13 Audi S6 belonging to Tracee Twedell, and we were pleased to see them back.

Fitted with APR software, the big Audi hit 514hp with a healthy 558 lb-ft to put it second in class, but with a big hill to climb if they wanted to beat 034.

Finally, we welcomed newcomers AccuAir. Although not strictly a tuning shop, the air suspension specialists worked with TAG Motorsports in Escondido, CA to prepare an Audi S4 for the event.

This was the same car used in our Air vs Coilover test (EC 11/13) and was designed to showcase AccuAir's Sport suspension kit. They'd be putting it to the ultimate test on the road course, seeing if it could live with the coil-sprung opposition under the spotlight of competition.

For the dyno day, the S4 was fitted with an AWE Tuning supercharger pulley, intake, downpipe and exhaust. This allowed it to produce 387hp and 353 lb-ft despite some DSG and traction control issues preventing it from realizing its full potential.

So with all 11 cars tested, the teams went home to make final preparations for two days of track action, starting with the drag racing...

Church Automotive Testing

When we're organizing the Tuner GP, one of the biggest debates used to center around the choice of dyno. Some shops prefer a Mustang dyno, others like the Dynojet. Each has its benefits but we've come to love the bolt-on Dynapack option because it eliminates issues such as wheelspin, alignment losses and tire inflation. It also overcomes the small differences in mass and inertia between different wheel and tire options, creating a level playing field for a comparison event such as ours.

The Dynapack places load on the engine using electrical or hydraulic pressure. This should make it easier to replicate real world conditions and better able to measure changes in output.

A further advantage is that the Church dyno uses one of the biggest cooling fans we've ever witnessed, allowing the cars to run cool on hot days.

Shawn Church works on a huge variety of machinery, from Civic to Cadillac, and was well versed in all the machinery that arrived. So if you're in the Los Angeles or Long Beach area and need a very experienced performance test and diagnostic center, visit Church Automotive Testing (home.earthlink.net/~spchurch).

Dyno

Team Car Class hp tq
034 Motorsport '12 Audi TT RS AWD 667 565.7
european Car '03 BMW M3 RWD 647 498.8
Trinity Autosport '08 BMW M3 RWD 568.1 383.9
Eurocode Tuning '13 Audi S6 AWD 514 558
GSR Autosport '12 Mercedes C63 AMG RWD 499 471
european auto source '08 BMW Z4M RWD 492 338
AccuAir '13 Audi S4 AWD 387.5 353.1
Revo Technik '12 VW GTI FWD 355.3 366.2
FSWerks '13 Ford Focus ST FWD 288.75 390
BBi Autosport '85 Porsche 911 RWD 276.3 255.8
Platte Forme* '06 BMW Z4M RWD 451 315

*numbers recorded on a different day

By Alex Bernstein,
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