Australia’s geographical isolation has never been more apparent than in this new age of hyper-connection. The World Time Attack Challenge‘s ability to attract quality international competitors makes the world feel just a teensy, tiny bit smaller.
Japanese competitors are all but guaranteed; after all, time attack was originally their sport. But as Australian teams have moved from the shadows and onto the podium more often, more and more international teams are taking up the challenge and shipping their cars to Sydney to find out if they have what it takes to be crowned the world’s fastest in their respective classes.
Finland’s Audi R8 1:1 team made one of the longest journeys to this year’s event. Their weapon of choice is also one of the most recognized European time attack cars of the past 12 months, a build with a goal of 1hp to 1kg. I’d been loosely following their progress leading up to WTAC 2017 via social media and also their charming, self-made YouTube series.
The Audi R8 brings a welcomed fresh approach to building a time attack car. The majority of time attack vehicles are based on platforms that are light, accessible and relatively cheap. The R8, on the other hand, is no featherweight. It’s also a rare sight Down Under, probably because they usually sell for supercar money.
In other words, it’s as far removed from conventional Australian and Japanese time attack racers as you could get. Is that a bad thing, though?
A very different set of ideas and philosophy behind going fast shaped the final build, and win, lose or draw, the R8 was guaranteed to turn heads. Fortunately for fans, this alternative approach resulted in a very serious challenge for this year’s Pro-Am title.
After watching the team’s first day of practice, it was clear the Audi was no show pony. The R8 1:1 group’s aim is to build the fastest time attack car the world has ever seen. While that’s still a work in progress, it’s a solid contender for the world’s most reliable time attack build.
I’ve never seen a time attack car complete so many consecutive laps. Ever.The 30,000km Test
Driver/owner Sami Sivonen and his team of “professional amateurs,” as he likes to put it, dedicated the past year to building the fastest time attack machine within their capabilities. The end product is a car they are exceptionally proud of, but there was still unfinished business.
Their project needed real-world testing. Instead of throwing out outlandish claims, they packed the Audi into a shipping container, and the team boarded their Sydney-bound flights for the final experiment.
Finland to Australia and then of course back again is a really, really long way; an estimated 30,000km (18,641 miles) round trip if you wanted to get specific. Throw in the complications, expenses, and risk of completing that journey with a car you intend to push beyond its limits, and it sounds like fun, right?
In Sami’s opinion, WTAC is the highest level of time attack racing in the world. It’s the ultimate test of what the team is capable of, and also how the Audi’s speed compares to the Pro class cars.
This year’s Pro-Am class was dominated by MightyMouse, a very special CR-X that has featured on Speedhunters more than once before. Following Rob Nguyen’s giant-slaying Honda all weekend-long, a nail-biting battle between Sami’s R8 1:1 and Will Au-Yeung’s Honda Civic from Canada ensued.
During the event, Will and Sami bested each others perfect lap at least four times. Second place really could have gone to either car, and that made for some exhilarating racing.One On One Time With 1:1
The chassis is a 2007 Audi R8 that was initially equipped with a 4.2-litre V8 engine and R-Tronic transmission. A lot has changed over the past 12-months, though. What was originally a very desirable street car has been transformed into an extremely desirable race car.
The factory-fitted engine has been replaced with a 2012 R8+ 5.2-litre V10, complete with aftermarket connecting rods and valvetrain components. During reassembly, the new engine was balanced by Pro Engines to help extract as much power as possible and also to reduce the chances of failure at higher loads and RPMs.
Then there’s the forced induction, which a pair of Honeywell Garrett/TiAL GTX3576 turbochargers takes care of. All of the supporting plumbing for the turbos, exhaust manifolds, and dual chamber inlets were fabricated from raw materials in-house. Well, in-garage is perhaps more accurate.
With the majority of the engine bay covered by carbon body panels, you’ll have to trust me when I tell you the turbos are fed cool air through a pair of side-mounted intercoolers. Again, these were fabricated from scratch in Sami’s garage to fit the unique setup.
A 60-litre fuel cell installed in the cockpit flows through to twin in-tank fuel pumps, then out through another three Racinglines high-output fuel pumps. The extreme pressures are kept in check by a Turbosmart FPR2000 regulator. Ten 1,690cc Finjector injectors deliver the fuel to 10 very thirsty cylinders, while a Racinglines billet surge tank maintains pressure, even through high-speed cornering. When at full throttle, the R8 is capable of consuming 11.8-litres of E85 every single minute!
A MoTeC M150 handles both the engine and transmission management, while a MoTeC power distribution module and custom center console provides a neat and light solution to reducing the vehicle’s wiring. Sami is relayed important telemetry while driving, including tire pressures. Between runs on the track, even more data can be downloaded for analysis through a MoTeC C187 dash and data-logging system.
The V10 is capable of spitting close to 1,300 horsepower at the rear wheels on 1.4bar (20.6psi) of boost pressure, allowing the R8 to run the quarter-mile in a confirmed 11.6-seconds with a terminal speed of, get this, 242km/h. Talk about top end power! A custom chrome-moly triple-plate AP Racing clutch and Holinger LG6 6-speed pneumatically-actuated sequential gearbox transfer those massive power figures to the tarmac through Audi Sport 24hr GT3 driveshafts. It’s no wonder that the R8 is so damned reliable.
The car’s 1,370kg (3,020lb) weight is quite heavy compared to the bulk of its competition, however, with its cleverly designed suspension fitted, the Audi looked to be just as nimble as the lighter cars around Sydney Motorsport Park. The suspension is based around race-tested Öhlins TTX40 four-way adjustable, twin-tube dampers. They’ve been matched with a set of in-house-designed spherical bearings and genuine Audi Sport LMS Ultra 24hr-spec rear uprights. Anti-roll bars were again designed specifically for the task at hand and fabricated by Sami’s team.
A set of BBS 18×11-inch center-lock wheels wrapped in WTAC control tires, Yokohama Advan A050s, in beefy 295/35R18 sizing can be found on each corner. Brembo calipers and Endless pads handle stopping and slowing down for corners, and an aftermarket Bosch M4 ABS kit has also been fitted to the R8 to help avoid accidents in Finland’s sometimes less than ideal weather conditions.
The R8 1:1 is a fantastic build, and to have come this far within just a year is a testament to everyone involved. It’ll be interesting to see how the car evolves with what the team learned in Sydney.
If the Audi taught us anything, it’s that there’s always room for an entirely different approach when it comes to building cars for speed.