FIVE DAYS IN THE JUNGLE: THE POWERTUNE 2016 WTAC CAMPAIGN WITH LIGHTNING RESI

Blood, sweat and tears aren’t enough. The pursuit of the perfect connected performance of car, tyres, track and driver is possibly the hardest-fought battle in any Australian Motorsport. But in time attack, this synergy is everything. Lightning Resi was back for another campaign for the win in front of a record WTAC crowd and with Eiji ‘Tarzan’ Yamada at the helm of this beast, we waited on baited breath to see if the stars would align for us this year. A week before our campaign kicked off, our technicians completely overhauled the 2015 engine package making sure the RB28 was ready for another grueling week of racing.

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DAY 1 – TUESDAY

To begin out WTAC 2016 campaign, we arrived two days ahead of official proceedings to begin testing. Barton Mawer, who would eventually pilot the PR968 Porsche to second place in Pro Class, jumped in Lightning Resi for a drive and feedback session. See one Barton’s hot laps in the video below.

“It’s a fun car, and should go very well!” said Barton of our R32 GT-R.  Barton was impressed with the power and delivery so the changes we made from his comments were to the suspension dynamics to rectify some slight under-steer.

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The Nulon guys were supporting us all weekend with oil testing, helping us diagnose any internal issues before it became catastrophic. Comparable to a blood test, any traces of foreign fluids or gasses in the oil usually points to engine or gasket disintegration. We treated Lightning to a fresh round of synthetic Nulon 15W30 before cleaning up and preparing for another busy day ahead of us before the big event.

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DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY

Still one day out from official proceedings we were back at SMSP again for our last round of testing and tuning. Dennis Resi, car owner, team boss and all-round legend is in the seat for today.

In the video captured from this session, you’ll see Dennis driving at the highest RPM for most of the lap, as Chea tests for maximum boost pressure through the gear range.

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Dennis’ Boost log from the lap featured in his video above “DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY”.

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Owner Dennis Resi finally gets behind the wheel of Lightning McQueen.

Another part of testing is keeping an eye on tyre pressures and temperatures. An event like WTAC puts a limitation on the amount of tyres you’re able to use over the weekend as well as the kind of tyre you’re able to use. For WTAC we have a very soft Yokohama Advan A050, which is a competitive tyre that offers a small window of peak performance. We are only given about 2 hot laps with a set of tyres before degradation occurs and the performance maximum is greatly reduced.

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We had Cole Powelson of LYFE Motorsport have a steer of the GT-R in the afternoon. Sending him out with a full tank of fuel, he was out for what we counted to be 9 laps, 4 of which were flying laps! He brought the car to its absolute limits in regards to fueling, and had the crew waving hats from the pit roof trying to call him in. BUT in hindsight, he was able to assist is in getting great data entries about the limits of the engine’s efficiency. Crucial when we want to send the car out with the minimum amount of fuel to save weight. Check out Cole’s aggressive lap below, with the fuel log attached underneath just for some laughs. Starting with 20L ( shown as 2.0 on graph ) the car returned with only 500ml! It literally stalled as we were loading it onto the trailer. 

From almost a 20L tank of fuel, Cole brought it back in with about 550ml, literally running on fumes!

From almost a 20L tank of fuel, Cole brought it back in with about 550ml, literally running on fumes!

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Two EGT sensors failed, sending the engine into limp mode. Chea had noticed a data anomaly in one of the cylinder temperatures, showing 800 degree C spike for a split second, physically impossible and a sign of sensor failure. Thankfully the guys from Haltech were on their way with 6 new EGT sensors.

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From this crazy 1000 degree spike in temperature, Chea knew the EGT sensor was failing.

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After consultation with the Nulon team, we also opted for a higher viscosity engine oil as we found the previous oil was thinning out due to the dilution caused by high ethanol usage. A very common problem for cars running ethanol, we opted for a 10W60 for optimum shear resistance qualities and for the stability it offered after a full day at the track.

Sending a few samples of the oil over to Nulon for overnight analysis.

Sending a few samples of the oil over to Nulon for overnight analysis.

Another fuel pump was added for the flexibility of turning up the power if Tarzan Yamada asked for it. To support this addition we also installed a high-amp alternator to provide the extra bit of spark. We tuned these additions along with the new EGT sensors on the hub dyno and tested for a high level of fuel delivery and flow.

Lightning Resi was put to bed for another day, ready for the first day of the official WTAC attack.

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DAY 3- THURSDAY

Time attack legend and pilot of Lightning Resi for the official WTAC Eiji ‘Tarzan’ Yamada had his first drive of Lightning Resi today in official testing today. We were keen to see what he had to say about the car, as we wanted to make sure he could be 100% comfortable in the car and to focus on getting the one perfect lap.

Tarzan’s feedback after the first session was that he wanted a lower front end on the car. We adjusted suspension to rectify this and also made slight adjustments to the suspension canisters and sway bars for extra stability in high-speed corner entries. Tarzan had no complaints about the engine performance that meant the team and Tarzan could focus on the driving and other fine-tuning.

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One point of adjustment that needed to be made for Tarzan’s aggressive style of driving was power delivery. Using an overlay of track data and engine data, Chea was able to pinpoint specific sectors of the track and was able to to increase or reduce levels of boost and power output accordingly. This assisted in providing better grip levels where the power came on too strong, and also better power in sectors where Tarzan needed more muscle. It was all about giving Tarzan the perfect tools to make the perfect lap happen.

Green line represents the run at full boost, whereas the blue shows a much smoother power delivery which was gained by tweaking where in the gear full boost comes on.

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All the while, the Albins sequential’s flat shifting timing was still being tuned, incrementally reducing the shift delay across testing days to get it into a sweet spot on race day. You’ll notice this change in shift timing across our videos some shifts will sounds slower than others.

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During the last session of official practice, Tarzan had reported that the car’s drive had gone into full bias to the rear wheels. After checking the 4WD controller and other electronic controls, the issue still lingered, meaning something had failed mechanically.

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The transfer case had taken a beating over the year of hard driving as well as an intense hub dyno session the night before. It had finally given way, unfortunate but not uncommon after the duties we had assigned to it for a long time. This was replaced, another round of oil samples were sent away to Nulon, we serviced Lightning Resi and gave him a wash, said our prayers and went to bed.

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DAY 4 – RACE DAY 1

No news is good news – exactly how we’d describe the first day of the WTAC festival. A very surreal feeling as the car did not skip a beat and Tarzan did not encounter any issues. Nothing to adjust, nothing broken.  The team actually got paranoid and started looking for problems, but alas, the time in development must definitely have paid off.

We just let Tarzan loose to do his thing and ended with a best time of 1:32.3070. With no major issues to rectify on the GT-R, we did our routine mechanical and fluid inspections, gave the car a wash and locked up the garage for our final day of the WTAC campaign.

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DAY 5 – RACE DAY 2

Nothing dramatic to report on the final day of proceedings. As Tarzan spent more time in the car he was getting faster and faster and bettered our time by a second (1:32.3070). Unfortunately, in the game of time attack, even if we got a little bit faster, there were teams who were a lot faster. We were up against a very strong and competitive field and were not able to place, finishing 11th in Open Class.

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There’s no replacement for experience. We’d like to congratulate and thank Ian Baker and the WTAC team for the biggest event we’ve seen yet and we know it will keep growing to be bigger and better each year. It’s with deep gratitude that these events are held, as it gives us the perfect platform to ‘walk the walk’. Many of our customers build cars to break their own PBs and what better way to show them we know what they want than breaking our own PBs with a bullet proof package?

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We walked away this year with an unprecedented amount of data that has lead to us with our most reliable package yet. Our engineers have a deeper insight into pressures, temperatures, efficiencies and strengths of high-powered engine packages and, like F1 teams and their associated manufacturers, are converting these key developments into palpable benefits for our customers.

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Our new engine packages will be as solid as our race package and it’s thanks to the huge team involved in our campaign this year that is had all been made possible.

Special thanks to
Ian Baker and the whole World Time Attack crew, every year bigger and better congratulations to the whole team on another stellar event.
Nulon Oils Australia for their support across the whole week.
Plazmaman.com for fabricating up our new intercooler so quickly.
Haltech for their ongoing support and really coming through for us on those EGT sensors!
Turbosmart for all the R&D help along the way.
Last but not least SELECTNINE for the media coverage of our 2016 WTAC campaign.