The discipline of time attack racing, might only require a single lap of perfection to claim glory, but it requires months, sometimes years, of hard work and preparation preceding that lap to make it possible. For Pukekohe-based Andy Duffin and the 3 Rotor Racing team, it has been a hectic lead up to this year's World Time Attack Challenge (WTAC) cramming all that prep into only four months. The chance to contest the Open Class at this year's event with his GT2 championship–winning FD proving too tempting for Duffin.
Four months is not a lot of time to turn around a project of any size. But a funny thing happens when a small-budget Kiwi team puts their hand up to take on such a challenge. You suddenly have like-minded individuals coming out of the woodwork to lend a hand. There is no denying that they are up against it in Open Class, when you consider that last year's front runners were 1000hp GT-Rs lapping close to the V8 Supercar lap record, and they too will be on the grid this year with more power and more refined aero.
To achieve the team's goals of finishing inside the top ten overall, and top three rear-wheel drives (in class), Andy knew it would require a departure into the unknown, delving into things like aero. Keeping it all Kiwi, David Higgins from Kenetic Sim jumped on board to help develop an aero package using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling.
After countless hours of running computer analysis of the airflow over and under the bodywork, the team have designed a bunch of aero components specific to this car. Another local company, Sandbrooks, are using CNC milling to produce the MDF plugs, which carbon expert Tim Dorest then produced the final carbon components from. These include front and rear under trays, side skirts, canards, the front guards, and the bonnet. With a limited horsepower car like the FD, it has been a balancing act between adding downforce for increased cornering speed without robbing too much top-end speed, something that will be used to full effect on the long front straight at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The large dual-element rear wing is of a gigantic proportion and ties into chassis and rear strut towers via chromolly braces. But the uprights are what really had me frothing ...
How badass are these knife-edged alloy wing supports. The knife edge will reduce drag for air passing the support. While a small change like this might not make a huge difference alone, when it's combined with the rest of the additions, the combined change will have a dramatic effect on the car's handling. Also note the external reservoirs for the new Fortune Auto coilovers.
This will be the first time that the team have run on a semi-slick as per WTAC rules. They have also gone to a larger 18x11-inch Advan TC111s wheel to allow for the maximum width 295/30/18 Advan 050s. Having only tested at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park on the medium compound, Andy is itching to try the soft compound once they arrive in Australia.
Green Brothers Racing have also extracted a little more from the long crank 20B PP, now producing 385kW (515hp) at the rear wheels. A figure that possibly makes it the world's most powerful NA 20B. The carbon intake, another new addition has also been CFD modelled, with maximum efficiency at around the 180–200kph mark. It makes some serious positive pressure at these speeds, force-feeding the EFI Hardware 55mm Pro Race throttle bodies. As per class rules, the Elite six-speed sequential will remain stick shifted.
The team have carried out two shakedowns at Hampton Downs, the first of which was sadly wet, but it gave them a good insight to how the changes had progressed the chassis. If they believe they have the car in the window, and its just about fine-tuning the chassis while resetting Andy's brain from pedalling a car with little to no downforce to what they are dealing with now.
“I need to get used to driving the car with the aero, braking later, and accelerating harder around the corners. It's probably a good thing taking it to Aussie as I don't have an references at SMSP, like I do on New Zealand tracks. I kept braking at my old marker, etc., So going to Sydney I will be finding the limit on a completely new track," Andy says.
With the event now under a month away, the FD, along with the other New Zealand cars, will leave our shores next week. In the meantime it's really only the finishing touches left to go before they load it into the container. Next time you see the car expect it to be looking at lot more like a completed race car. In fact, we will be sneaking in a photo shoot before it's loaded. So keep an eye out for that.
Andy would like to thank Green Brothers Racing, Link ECU, Fortune Auto, AdrenalineR Mufflers, Motul, Endless Brakes NZ, Prosport Auto, Renegade Trailers, Kinetic Sim, Sandbrooks Rennenglass, Riverlea Panel and Paint, Manon Racing Products, Tim Dorset, Richard and Chris Green, Glen Sandbrook, David Higgins, Brett Killip, Andrew Burns, Lindsay Gate, David Ferguson, Jason Liefting, Mike Cullingford, and family and friends for their help thus far.