Sunday, December 1, 2002
Performance Engineering Pays Off
In the true spirit of Bathurst, Team Yamaha brought home the first Australian GT Performance V8 Production car in the recent inaugural Bathurst 24 Hour marathon. By achieving 9th outright and fourth in class, Team Yamaha demonstrated that you didn't need a purpose-built million dollar race car for a Top 10 finish.
Their choice? A Ford TE50 road car with a retail price under $60,000! Add a sound race strategy, careful preparation and exceptional reliability, the Team Yamaha TE50 demonstrated that everyday enthusiasts can still afford to race a road car at Bathurst and achieve a competitive result. Together, they have also revived the once proud tradition of taking a genuine road car version of an Australian family car to Bathurst and racing successfully against big dollar outfits.
The TE50 was the perfect choice for a team on a budget. It did not require a special body shell with a specialist double wishbone racing rear end grafted into it. All T-Series road cars feature a strong body shell with double wishbone independent rear suspension as standard. The T-Series also features the same superior double wishbone design at the front with class-leading steering and handling.
When building all TE50 engines, Tickford (now Ford Performance Vehicles) employed many racing practices because that was the best way to build a premium long life road car engine. This included hand assembly, balancing and careful matching of components, a strengthening girdle at the base of the block, special pistons and conrods, gas flowed heads, exhaust extractors and other premium performance components.
The TE50 manual gearbox is the latest Tremec TR3650, again standard in all current T-Series models and the coming FPV GT. This gearbox was originally specified for its high torque capacity, precise shift and durability and was matched to a high performance Valeo clutch plate, also standard on all T-Series road cars. Brakes were the cross-drilled, four piston caliper Brembo package optional on all T-Series road cars.
The Bathurst 24 hour event highlighted the integrity of these components as fitted to the road car. Apart from a throttle cable replacement, not unexpected over a 24 hour workout, the TE50 did not experience a single mechanical failure and ran faultlessly for the full 24 hours.
The total race distance covered was 2907 kms at an average speed of 127 km/h. The engine used only 3 litres of oil despite 24 hours of racing temperatures and high engine speeds. A total of 1,056 litres of fuel was used.
A 12 hour scheduled service occurred exactly as planned. Front brake pads, rotors and front wheel bearings were replaced as a matter of course as temperatures reached in excess of 700 degrees Celsius. This service was completed in 16 minutes.
There were scheduled pit stops every 2.5 hours averaging just over a minute and a half. During these stops, the crew changed tyres, added 120 litres of fuel and completed a driver change. The race strategy was to conserve the car while building a lead over class competitors.
At about one third race distance, the Team Yamaha TE50 climbed to 5th outright and was in front of the purpose-built Monaro race winner at that point. It was consistently lapping 6 seconds faster than the third placed car in its class when a series of safety car interventions dashed any hopes of a podium finish by less than half a lap.
Team Yamaha's lead driver Trevor Haines summed it up: "We only needed to carry out another 12 hour service and the TE50 could have done it all over again. Our fastest lap was 2 minutes 34.38 seconds which was fast enough for us to work up the field. We had no doubt that if the race continued for another 24 hours the TE50 would still have been standing ready to take a podium finish as others fell out of contention."
For this privateer team of car enthusiasts, it was the realisation of a dream that started only this season.
It is hardly surprising with this level of engineering quality that demand for the TE50 and the premium TS50 version has barely been affected by the arrival of the new BA Falcon range. Stocks of this special model are now very limited and are expected to be sold out by the close of 2002.