All the money was on this class to claim top honors, and it was a safe bet. However, you'd have lost money if you backed last year's winners Berk Technology. Its BMW 135i is a winner in several Time Attack competition series, so expectations were high. The team knows the set-up and the driver knows both the car and the track, so what could possibly go wrong?
In the three practice sessions, the crew spent a great deal of time checking the tire pressures and changing suspension settings, producing some fast 1:24 laps. And with last year's winning time of 1:24.694, this performance would seem to be enough to claim the victory.
With the car putting its Continental street tires under considerable stress, driver Carl Rydquist cooled everything in between his timed laps, only taking two fliers. The result was 1:23.893, which would have wiped the floor last year. Yet unbelievably, it was only good enough for third overall and in class at ECGP12.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came from Platte Forme. This was a team we met for the first time last year, but which struggled to find the right set up. However, they were more prepared this year, with the car looking and sounding far more purposeful.
Equipped with the most aggressive aero devices of all the teams, and sporting a banshee wail, the Platte Forme E46 M3 appeared to be the quickest car on track, vastly improved over last year in the hands of student Terry Liu.
During the morning, a great deal of preparation work went into the car, forcing them to miss the first session. But once on track in the morning they were flying, setting a best time of 1:22.9, which put everybody else on notice.
During the timed session, a best time of 1:23.119 caused dismay among the Time Attack class, setting a very high bar for 034Motorsport who were to follow.
And the winner is...
Fastest lap of the day and Time Attack class winner was the aforementioned 034Motorsport with its B5 Audi A4.
Without disparaging their fellow competitors, 034 is highly organized, totally focused and utterly determined to succeed. In previous years they won the event with this same car fitted with a VR6 turbo engine. It was then retired to Time Attack competitions, fitted with a modified 1.8T and entered into Pikes Peak. In the meantime, they built a mid-engined, RWD VW GTI fitted with a B5 Audi S4 V6 turbo, which subsequently won our Tuner GP at its second attempt.
Having been beaten last year at Streets of Willow by Berk's 135i, company president Javad Shadzi took the decision to bring the Audi out of retirement. During the practice sessions they went through a well-rehearsed routine, taking feedback from professional driver and 034 employee Christian Miller.
The car's significant aerodynamic additions caused an amount of instability in the high desert winds, so changes were made to reduce the effect. Despite being developed for R-compound tires or slicks, the A4 made good use of its Conti street tires thanks to air pressure and suspension adjustments, softening them to find more grip.
Like several other pro drivers, Christian was surprised at how well the Continental DW tires were holding up. Although never designed to run on racecars such as these, the tires delivered consistent grip and liked lower pressures, whereas most street tires are generally over-inflated on the track to find grip.
Sitting out the last session, Christian asked for 4psi on his push-to-pass button that he used on the two straights, raising it from the normal 24psi when the car needed it most. The results speak for themselves, with the fastest lap coming in the timed session, breaking the beam at 1:22.386, its remaining laps also faster than any other car.
It was a dominant performance, quicker than many similar cars on R-compounds, and the fastest time we've ever seen at Streets in the TunerGP. It sets the benchmark for ECGP13 and we invite all North American tuners of European cars to step up and try to beat that impressive time.
Old meets new: EV West '95 M3 with futuristic electric power encounters EAS '11 M3 with outgoing supercharged V8
Old meets new: EV West '95 M3 with futuristic electric power encounters EAS '11 M3 with ou
VW honor was preserved by Euro Sport's supercharged R32
The mildly-tuned GSR 911 Turbo won the AWD class with a 1:26.85 lap, but watch out for more powerful Porsches next year
The mildly-tuned GSR 911 Turbo won the AWD class with a 1:26.85 lap, but watch out for mor
european car 2012 Tuner GP Lap Times
||'01 Audi A4
|Platte Forme AG
||'01 BMW M3
||'08 BMW 135i
|european auto source
||'11 BMW M3
||'08 Porsche 911 Turbo
||'12 Audi S4
||'95 BMW M3
||'09 BMW 335i
||'11 Mercedes CLS63 AMG
|Euro Sport Accessories
||'04 VW R32
||'12 VW Golf R
||'95 BMW M3
||'07 VW Rabbit
If you visit www.europeancarweb.com and enjoy our video, all the in- and on-car footage was recorded using Replay XD1080 HD cameras. It uses a water-resistant, anodized, aluminum housing, making it the smallest, lightest HD camera on the market. It uses two buttons for on/off and start/stop, making it easy to operate, with an LED and vibration telling you it's running. However, it allows 1080P, 960P, 720P, time-lapse photos, internal and external audio, etc. You set the Mode once and it remains, and an indicator on the rear cover reminds you were its at.
With a raft of mounting options and its small size, the Replay camera is a versatile option to the popular GoPro cameras we generally use, and we were pleasantly surprised to see the positive results from our ECGP footage (replayxd.com).