There was a little initial hold up with material but in the end Mike decided to go with a slightly better material that is stronger and lighter – 321 stainless steel. The turbochargers mountings are a V band clamp and for some reason no one in the UK seemed to have the sizes that we needed so Mike had to machine some up that he says now fit perfectly.
There have been quite a few challenges, as you can imagine, on where to situate each turbo. Not only does Mike need to get the four exhaust pipes from the head to the turbocharger but he also needs to get a three-inch down pipe back down past the engine and chassis without it touching the engine itself and with enough clearance that it won’t hit the body when the engine is moving around under load!
I also wanted it to look aesthetically pleasing and asked if he could make them as symmetrical as possible – just to add the pressure of getting it perfect. I’m sure it’s no bother for someone who is doing this day-in day-out and from what I have seen so far it doesn’t look like its fazing him at all. From previous instalments you will have seen the front-end of the car being redesigned with a slightly wider stance and better aerodynamic flow for more front end-down force. This was a must due to the size of the rear wing and as someone pointed out with the extra drag normally bothering people from a top speed perspective I don’t have that to worry about that now with all the extra power I will have on tap. That’s not to say that it doesn’t all have to flow and work together to give the best results.
So we now have our first mould and we could stop here as it looks amazing and exactly as I imagined it would look but we are now going to start playing around with it. Yes we could have done this from the start but we didn’t want to destroy a perfectly good bumper. The idea is that the engine is going to need some pretty hefty cooling so a big front mounted intercooler won’t be very efficient if it has a small opening with the radiator, oil cooler and intercooler all sandwiched in together.
So the plan is to open both the centre and the side openings up by at least 30 percent which we hope will give enough area for what we are looking for.
In the mean time while the car is in a billion bits I am still pushing forward with my driving at the Nürburgring and I have now completed my German race licence thanks to Beat at Speedbeat Motorsport. The requirements are very taxing as you can imagine – a gruelling four-hours of theory, some practicing on the GP circuit and a practical test with an instructor in the car to see that I was competent driver.
The only slot Beat could fit me in so as I don’t miss the first RCN race of the season was a VLN VIP test day on track with the monster GT3 cars. Had I been in the M3 this may not have been as much a problem but being in a much slower car I found most of the time I was looking in my mirrors just trying to make sure I didn’t get in the way of any of the big power cars – the speeds they were approaching was frightening at times.
I could be at the end of the pit straight just before turn one and see a car in my mirrors just coming onto the start-finish straight and by the time I had turned in for the first corner they was on my rear bumper! I must say it was quite an experience being on track with these cars and most of all riding the bumpers of the likes of the M6 GT3 when it had just cut in front of me off-line before a chicane – it’s a memory I will keep for a long time, or perhaps until I’m actually racing on the same track as them!
Beat’s VLN V4 E90 has had a top to bottom refit – all suspension components renewed, many nuts bolts clips, an engine gearbox and diff refresh, and even a complete new colour scheme in a sexy pink laid over the classic white branding of his main sponsor, Pascha. I was a little sceptical about the pink when he first showed me the wheels but I must say it was one of the best looking cars out on the day.
The end game is for me to race in the VLN and, without getting ahead of myself, the N24 one day… but first I must race in the RCN to get my VLN permit. It isn’t as easy as just entering the races either – I will have to place in the top 75 percent of at least three races throughout the year and as easy as that may sound over eight races the competition is tough, as are the weather conditions.
Whilst I was there after the test day on Sunday one of Beat’s friends and a team member came over with a lot equipment to take some extra special measurements of the car’s geometry. As you will know I have been setting my car up in the UK and in Germany with Beat for the last two years so I find this subject really interesting! Once the car was on level tables and the geometry was set, corner weights adjusted and ride height measured, all four shocks were taken off of the car and the springs removed and everything was bolted back together and using the ramp the car was dropped down from its full height bit by bit and every 20mm the camber and toe were measured to give a good indication of what the car is doing when it compresses and unloads. The findings where quite unbelievable and a great insight into what is going on whilst you are out on track.
Let’s hope that next month I will have some updates about the advances on the M3 and some news about the first VLN of the year and my first race on the Nordschleife in the RCN.