Monday, February 2, 2015

Bathurst 12 Hour: PPE Audi TT RS Prepares For Bathurst 12 Hour

Performance Parts and Engineering (PPE) Press Release

Triple Australian Manufacturers’ Championship title holder Stuart Kostera is beaming: “This car is so fast!” is his simple summation of the PPE-prepared Kintyre Racing (sponsored by Schaeffler Automotive Aftermarket) Audi TT RS he will share with Glyn Crimp and Matthew Cherry at the 2015 Bathurst 12 Hour.

Kostera is working the TT RS through a pre-event test at the majestic Phillip Island race circuit in Victoria, chosen for its multitude of long, fast corners that offer a similar challenge to Mount Panorama.

“It’s the first time we have run with slicks, which are allowed in the 12 Hour,” explains PPE team boss Alan Heaphy, “so we are tuning the car to the tyres.” The Audi, like many of its Class D rivals at the 12 Hour, usually runs on Hankook control tyres in the Australian Manufacturers’ Championship.

“We’ve come down from quite a stiff setup. The front springs are 60 per cent softer than when we started, to make the most of the [tyre] grip,” he adds.

In the best of the track conditions, Kostera is able to record a time of 1:41.9 in the Audi, which places it almost three seconds faster than his best Phillip Island marker in his all-conquering Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

As the day progresses, Kostera finds a groove in the low-42s, as he works to dial out some high-speed, power-on understeer. “Being predominantly a front-drive car, there’s some natural understeer when you are trying to deploy 330kW,” says Heaphy. “We have a control unit that can alter the characteristics of the Haldex system, to make it faster-reacting in distributing drive to the rear, and it’s something we will look at back in the PPE factory.”

Kostera also works through several brake pads, trying to find the balance between bite and feedback: “There’s not much difference in the ultimate stopping distance, but feel and consistency are important in endurance racing,” he says. On the overall setup, Kostera adds: “This is my second time in the car, and it just keeps getting better and better. There’s more to come, and I want to see that improvement in lap time!”

Small, niggling items — stuff you want to find in testing, rather than mid-race — are promptly seen to by the PPE mechanics as they come to grips with the hydraulic clutch system employed in this six-speed manual TT RS. “It works beautifully, but when the fluid gets dirty, the pedal can become inconsistent,” explains lead mechanic Craig Tulloch as the crew freshens the fluid.

Growing in confidence, and with the car and Kostera showing admirable consistency as well as speed, the team decides to go up to a firmer spring once more. The resultant reduction in traction and confidence has Kostera returning early to revert back to the softer setup. It once more proves fast, predictable and consistent… the exact traits PPE is looking for, given the looming stage of Mount Panorama in early February.

With an eclectic mix of competitors within Class D, the drivers, crew and car will be challenged throughout the 12 hour. But the Kintyre Racing PPE team wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo credit: Performance Parts and Engineering