Following practice and lunch, each team was invited to take three timed laps individually. The best time would count but the temperature had crept past 90°F by this point, and oil deposited on the track was inevitably going to affect the times.
The smallest class was the FWD category with only two competitors vying for top honors. And with a best time of 1:29.8, the victory and trophy again went to Revo Technik with its big-turbo VW GTI. The FSWerks Focus ST was almost a full second slower, with a best time of 1:30.9, which was within 0.1sec of their fastest lap of the day, but it wasn't enough to unsettle the VW.
Outgunned by the all-wheel drive cars, the RWD class was hard fought, with tenths of a second separating the top performers.
The battle was between the two BMW Z4M coupes, with european auto source narrowly taking the class win with a time of 1:27.4. This squeaked them past the Platte Forme car, which was recovering from an almost catastrophic problem in practice. So the team's best time of 1:27.6 should be considered a victory anyway.
Despite its win, EAS was about 1sec off its best practice time, indicating the higher afternoon temp, tire wear and less grip following the oil spill were taking a toll. Nevertheless, the team emerged as RWD class champs for the event, taking the wins in drag racing and road course.
Next up was the GSR Autosport C63 Coupe, which sounded the most awesome and won the award for best slow-down lap as Essa drifted each corner back to the pits. If we offered style points, he'd have won by a handy margin, but instead he was judged on his best lap of 1:28.2.
Interestingly, both GSR and Platte Forme had completed a flying lap, followed by a cool-down lap before going for broke a second time. Eurocode would do the same in the AWD class - the drivers allowing the tires and brakes to cool in between hot laps. Looking at the times, this tactic didn't appear to alter the results but it was interesting to see the different approach.
Fourth fastest RWD was the european car Project M3, which Essa pushed to a best time of 1:28.5. Again, it was slightly slower than its best qualifying time, but respectable nonetheless. With more rubber, the car probably had a quicker time under its belt, but boost issues forced a power reduction and that undoubtedly cost it time.
The Trinity Autosport M3 was fifth in class with a best lap of 1:29.5, which was a full second off his best practice lap, but was also significantly quicker than the BBi Autosport Porsche 911 Carrera in sixth place with a time of 1:30.1 - we suspect the company will bring a bigger gun to next year's shoot-out...
Taking this class in reverse order, the slowest of the three Audis was the S4 from AccuAir with a respectable time of 1:29.6. This was the best time of the day by a significant margin and highlighted how the AWD cars were totally unaffected by the changing conditions. It also vindicated the team's decision to enter a car on air suspension for the first time in the GP's 11-year history. It's time we all started looking at air-ride from a performance viewpoint rather than simply a gimmick...
Similarly, Eurocode Tuning had only managed 1:29 in practice, but set the second fastest time of the day with a 1:26.8 to jump the S6 into second place in class and overall. It was an impressive performance that will be taking some of the teams by surprise when they see these results in print for the first time!
Practice form didn't suggest the S6 had this level of ability, but somehow, Eurocode and driver, Jeremy Croiset, managed to coax the best performance from the Audi when it counted most.
And the winner is...
Fastest lap of the day and AWD class winner was 034 Motorsport with its TT RS. In many ways, this is the tamest car the team has entered, particularly if you compare it to the previous Audi A4 with VR6 turbo power, or the mid-engined VW GTI V6 turbo. And yet the guys at 034, led by Javad Shadzi and driver Christian Miller were again confident they had a winner.
The same car was actually brought to last year's ECGP but, with a full field of entrants and it having only minor mods, we didn't report on its results. However, the dry run must have shown 034 its strengths and weaknesses because, for ECGP13, the car didn't miss a beat. From the dyno to drag strip and road course, they went about a well-practiced routine of testing and improvement. They will push the car just enough to get the best results, and then wait to see if anybody else can come close.
Driving down from Fremont, CA, 034 makes a big commitment to compete in our Tuner GP, bringing a team of five on the road for our three-day event. But continued success, and event domination - making a clean sweep of the AWD class and taking the trophy for overall ECGP winner by virtue of setting the benchmark in every discipline - justifies their commitment. If you want to beat 034, you need to start planning now!
034 picking up awards for best AWD performance and overall 2013 winner
EAS took RWD class wins in drag and track
Revo won every event in the FWD class
||'12 Audi TT RS
||'13 Audi S6
|european auto source
||'08 BMW Z4M
||'06 BMW Z4M
||'12 Mercedes C63 AMG
||'03 BMW M3
||'08 BMW M3
||'13 Audi S4
||'12 VW GTI
||'85 Porsche 911
||'13 Ford Focus ST