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Old 15th July 2017, 11:52   #1
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Default Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Driving a race car on a track must be high up in the bucket list of most car enthusiasts. I'm no exception. So, when I was offered to represent Team-BHP at the VW Ameo Cup 2017 media event at Kari Speedway, Coimbatore, I almost jumped in my seat. On work front, life has been super-hectic since last few months and taking time out for 2 days in the middle of a week (14-15 June 2017) was not at all easy. GTO mentioned that this was a lifetime opportunity to experience a proper race car with a 1.8 TSI heart at a track. The heart won the battle over the head quite easily. Planned my work-week the best I could and created space for this. Then the details came in and I was supposed to fly from Mumbai on 14th afternoon, reach Coimbatore late in the day and then fly back post-lunch on the next day. Huh? Chance of driving on 14th was close to none. Maybe just a briefing that day, but then on 15th we would have time till just 12 noon. Would I really get a chance to drive at the track? The whole thing would be quite a damp squib if it is just a media briefing and a walk-around the 2017 Ameo cup car. But then why would they invite us to the track? May be a proper race-car driver would demonstrate a few hot laps. A subsequent communication from the organizers asked to carry a helmet and wear shoes that cover the feet completely. Ah ha! That removed the lingering doubt. Time to break the news to the family. Kids got super excited when they heard about it. Wife was worried and said seriously - “Drive slow”. I almost rolled my eyes and said “Yeah! That’s what race cars are meant for. Driving SLOW!”. I want to stay married, so instead I told her with a straight face that I would be careful. My son had a hearty laugh though.

That's the Ameo Cup Car 2017:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-ameocupcar41000x600.jpg
(Image credit - VWMI)

I was salivating just by looking at the officially released pics . As the event day came closer, preparation started. Read up the press releases from VW about this year’s Ameo Cup. Read up a bit about the VW cup events from last few years and a few member’s accounts of participating in the actual racing. Stratos has been to a media event very similar to this a few years back and his thread set the tone for what to expect. Got the trusted Nikon D90 ready with a full charge, enough space on the memory card and a few test shots. A dashcam/action-cam would be nice to have, but my SJCAM had conked off a few months back. Had a quick chat with friend and fellow BHPian DodgeViper. He was kind enough to drop his SJCAM with a bunch of spare batteries at my place on the day of my flight. Tested the SJ4000, formatted the cards, charged all 6 batteries, picked up a few mounts and I was all set.

I gave up biking few years back, though a full-face helmet from that time was still somewhere at home. Took some effort to locate it, but located it somehow, cleaned it a bit and kept it ready. Realized that I have been roaming around in Woodland sandals since a few months and don’t really have any good lightweight casual pair of shoes. I hate last minute shopping, but set out anyways around lunch time to pick up a comfy pair. Around 4 p.m. on 14th June, I was all set and super-excited about embarking on a new adventure.

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 12:04.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #2
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Exploring the Track

Landed early in Coimbatore. Just outside the exit, bumped into an old friend from a Team-BHP drive a few years back. He was representing an online portal and was attending the same event. We reached the hotel and I signed for my room. Noticed a list of 20 odd people who had already checked in and found a couple of familiar names in there. Dumped the bag in the room and joined the rest of the gang for dinner. Met Adhish Alawani who handles VW Group India communication. Apparently, there had been 2 sessions that day where most of the others already got a chance to experience the cup car. So, it was just 5-6 of us for next day morning session at the track. Somebody at the dinner table mentioned about part of the track being under repairs and therefore closed. Adhish set the expectation about 6:30 a.m. breakfast the next day and being at the track around 7:30 a.m. Since it was a new place, I couldn’t sleep well and tried to memorize the track layout. Was too charged up for a sound sleep anyway.

Got up at 5:15 a.m. before the alarm rang and got ready. At 6:45 a.m. most guys were already downstairs. Had a quick light breakfast and got into the Innova to head towards the track which was a good 30-40 minutes away. While chatting up with others in the Innova, I realized that I am possibly the only one who has not been to Kari Motor Speedway (or for that matter any other track) before.

Kari Motor Speedway has been operational since 2003 and can hold races up to Formula-3 category. Although shorter than the MMRT track near Chennai, this is supposedly a more technical track. It is a 2.2 km long track with a layout as shown below:
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Reached the place around 8 am and there they were – 7 beautiful Ameo race-cars waiting for us:
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3 pairs. Two black ones with red livery:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0278.jpg

Two whites with blue livery:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0281.jpg

Two brown ones with sky-blue livery and…
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0283.jpg

… a lone blue Ameo. Love that shade of blue:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0282.jpg

Dark clouds loomed over the track. Would it rain? May be after a few laps... so that I get to experience the wet tyres as well as the slicks?
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0289.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 12:03.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #3
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The Briefing

8:15 a.m. - The briefing started. Adhish gave an overview of VW Motorsports India (VWMI) and the single-make Cup series since 2010. From L to R - Karthik Tharanisingh (development and test driver), Adhish and Rayo:
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It started with Polo GT TDi in 2010, became Polo-R cup in 2011 and moved to GT TSI with DSG a year or two later. Moved from Polo to Vento in 2015. For the 2017 season, VWMI decided to go with VW’s newest offering in India – the compact sedan Ameo. So, what was the Polo Cup and Vento cup earlier, would be the Ameo Cup this year. Polo-Vento-Ameo … it is basically the same car with minor changes to the rear. So not really a big deal. The real big deal is the fact that for the first time in VWMI history, the cup car has been completely designed and built ground-up in India.

After Adhish, Rayo - who has multiple national championships to his credit and is with VWMI in a Driver Coach capacity - took over and explained the track layout, what gears and RPMs to maintain at various points on the track, flags, guided laps and security guidelines:
Name:  DSC_0293.JPG
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Post this we stepped out of the shade and moved back to the cars. The dark clouds had cleared and it was a bright sunny day outside. VWMI’s Chief Race Engineer Ranjit had already taken one car out and started explaining the technical stuff about the car:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3236.jpg

There was lots to absorb and I was struggling to locate the voice recorder app on my cell . Key things that I understood are as follows:

Engine - The Ameo Cup Car has the 1798 cc EA888 engine that does duty on the Polo GTI, Skoda Octavia and the Superb. This year’s cars are producing 202 BHP @ 6,100 rpm and 320 Nm torque @ 3,200 - 4,600 rpm. The same engine produces 189 BHP in GTI and 178 BHP in the Octavia. Needless to say that the EA888 engine is in a different state of tune on the Ameo Cup cars to deliver more power and an improved torque curve. What's even more exciting is that the engine can also produce 266 BHP and VWMI had already developed that map. But more about it later.

Gearbox – The capable engine has been mated with a 6-speed sequential gearbox from 3MO. This is a proper race-spec dog-box transmission. They have added steering mounted paddle shifters for changing gears sequentially. The paddle inputs are converted into actual gearshifts by an electro-magnetic actuator gear-control unit. The combination of dog-box and actuator unit enables fast gear changes. It also has additional safety built in which prevents one from accidentally changing down too many gears.

Clutch - The cup cars from previous years had the DSG transmission and therefore no clutch pedal. Technically even this year's 6-speed sequential dog-box also does not need a clutch. But since the first gear is relatively tall, a certain amount of slippage is a given, which necessitates a clutch for starting in 1st gear. For all subsequent gear-shifts, one does not need to press the clutch. The clutch is from Sachs Race Engineering. There is also a new light weight flywheel. We typically hear about dual mass (heavy) flywheels in production cars. Why a race car would take the opposite approach and put in a lightweight flywheel? Leaving that for you to ponder on and figure out .

ECU – Completely new unit M142 from MoTeC which has been independently calibrated and mapped to suit the engine-gearbox combination.

Data Acquisition - The MoTeC C125 color dash display is installed right in front of the stock dials and almost completely blocks the dials (which have been removed anyways). This unit has a 120MB data logging capacity.

Fusebox - There is no conventional fuse box. What the car has instead is a semi-conductor based MoTeC PDM-30 which handles the power distribution and acts as a combination of the fuse box and body control module (BCM). No need to replace blown fuses. Just reset and go. It also has a battery isolator function.

Suspension - McPherson Strut setup at front and torsional beam setup at rear. Suspension has been upgraded with 2-way adjustable dampers from KW and Eibach springs. While VW Cup cars have used KW dampers in the past, there are changes in terms of weight and specs. The front stabilizer can be adjusted for 3 settings and that's the only parameter of the suspension on which the driver has a say.

Tyres & Wheels – The tyres are 17" MRF ZLOs. They have been specifically designed for this car. 6 variations were tried (2 compounds and 3 construction combinations) till VWMI found the perfect fit. The 17" alloys are also new and are lighter than before.

Brakes and ABS – Race-spec ABS with 334 mm ventilated discs at front and 232 mm disc at the rear, both with uprated calipers. Most of the brake system components are from VW parts bin - specifically AWD Golf and GTI. The brake pads from Galfer UK provide a better and progressive bite. Fog lamp housing has been replaced with a grill in the bumper (and windshield washer container has been relocated) to allow better ventilation for the brakes.

Mechanical changes – The Vento Cup car had a slightly longer wheel base. The suspension changes and certain mechanical changes have been done to retain the positive characteristics of the Vento Cup Car and give better dynamics to the Ameo Cup car. So, the engine has been moved to the right by about 10 mm and lowered by 5 mm. The electro-magnetic actuator which weighs quite a lot has been placed inside to get more weight behind the front axle. Windshield spray fluid container has also been moved inside the cabin. Battery and fire extinguisher have been moved to the rear and placed in the spare wheel cavity for better weight distribution.

Safety - Comprehensive FMSCI certified 8-point roll cage. FIA regulated on-board fire extinguisher system. Electrical cut-off relay with cut-off switch on the windshield shroud.

Last edited by GTO : 17th July 2017 at 09:30.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #4
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The Ameo cup car - up close and personal

I was assigned a white Ameo with lot of TSI stickering. I wore the helmet and got in with some difficulty (due to the roll cage). While I started checking out the controls, a guy from support crew came to the car and asked if the seat position was alright and if I was able to operate the pedals without any issue. After that I asked about how to engage the Reverse if needed. He explained, then fastened the harness and now I was firmly pinned to the seat. He asked me to sit in a more upright position. Then he took out a cushion like thing from the passenger side and stuffed it behind my back. The difference was noticeable. More support to the back and a tight yet comfortable fit. I got out (as I was part of batch-2) and saw batch-1 guys getting ready.

Around 9:30 a.m. the first batch of 3 cars set out on the track for guided laps with Rayo in a Polo GT TDI. The moment the engines came to life, it was evident from the growl that today is going to be lot of fun with these beasts. I watched in awe as the first 3 drivers unleashed the beasts after the guided laps. I had another 15 odd minutes before my turn. The sky which was a bit overcast since morning had cleared up by now. I decided to utilize the time for clicking the pictures of ‘my’ car.

On the outside, there are not too many changes (if you ignore the wing and the livery):
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0353.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0315.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0323.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0322.jpg

Air vents on the hood:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0329.jpg

The hood as well as the boot lid has external latches (hood-pins), which ensure that in case of a shunt, the bonnet doesn't open and fly into the windshield:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0330.jpg

The fog lamp housing is also a vent which allows more air flow to the brakes for cooling:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0320.jpg

There is a fairly big wing mounted on the boot to provide more down-force:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0326.jpg

Note how the carbon-fibre wing is mounted on the rear portion and not on top part of the boot-lid:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0357.jpg

The rear tow-hook is painted red and is clearly marked.
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0359.jpg

With no ICE, I wondered what the antenna is doing on the roof. Team radio? I like the large VW decal on the roof though:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0355.jpg

Low profile racing slicks. 200/605-R17. Nice dark alloys as well:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0325.jpg

The rear wheel. The lightweight alloy wheel and MRF ZLO tyre:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0361.jpg

Note the significantly larger disc on the front wheel as compared to the rear one:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0362.jpg

A closer look at the disc and the calipers:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0363.jpg

The wheels are big and fill the wheel arch almost completely. I could barely see the springs/dampers:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0364.jpg

Here's a better pic of the KW struts:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-sat_3987.jpg

KW and Eibach branding on the rear bumper:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0370.jpg

Heart of the beast ... the 1.8 L engine from the GTI. It's a tight fit in the engine bay. BMC filter for better air flow. There's no engine cover and the firewall insulation is bare minimum. Missing battery and fuse-box from the engine bay:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0448.jpg

The turbo at the back of the engine. It's the stock GTI turbo:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0460.jpg

There are couple of such red nozzles in the engine bay. More about them later:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0449.jpg

A few more angles of the race car:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0365.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0366.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0368.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0369.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0350.jpg

A nice touch of putting "VWMI B +ve" sticker where generally the driver's name and blood group is pasted.
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0349.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 12:01.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #5
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On the inside

What does a race-car driver need on the inside? A seat (mind you ... "a" seat and not seats), a steering, ABC pedals, gear-shifter/paddles, basic controls for starting/stopping the car, safety systems. And that's ALL you get. The interior is stripped out of everything else - no key, no AC, no music system, no carpet, no roof lining, no extra seats, no glove box, no spare wheel and no charging point. It's not "function over form", it's "pure function" and nothing else. Safety is paramount and even from outside, the roll-cage is prominently visible. Once you get inside, you realize how comprehensive it is.

You can also see the driver side safety net in this picture:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0373.jpg

The rear of the car is completely invaded by the roll-cage:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0371.jpg

The roll-cage extends from the front struts to the rear struts:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0334.jpg

The front door pads have been carved out to accommodate a roll-cage bar:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0343.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0309.jpg

No door pad on the rear door - No handle or winder either:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0342.jpg

It was quite amusing to see the windshield washer-fluid container placed on the rear-bench (or rather what is left of the rear-bench). As most of you are aware, it is generally placed inside the bumper on the driver side. As mentioned earlier, it has been moved so as empty out that space for the vent that helps cool down the brakes:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0340.jpg

The OMP steering with paddle shifters:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0345.jpg

The OMP seat and 6-point harness/seat-belt. You can also see the additional black padding that I spoke about earlier:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0346.jpg

Portion of the roll-cage in the vicinity of the driver's head has been padded for additional safety. You can also see 2 bright red nozzles pointed at the driver mounted at the top of the A-pillars. More about those later:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0331.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0336.jpg

I was somehow expecting a DSG gearbox and was surprised to see a clutch in the foot-well earlier. The clutch is used only for engaging first gear while starting from a standstill and is not used for any subsequent gearshifts. No 3D Kagu mats . Instead you get a solid steel anti-skid plate:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_1372.jpg

First VW India Cup car with a handbrake:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0337.jpg

Since there is no AC, it does get pretty hot inside the cabin and that's why some people leave the driver side window rolled down by an inch or so. The previous cup cars at least had the blower to provide some relief to the driver. This year, the blower functions, but all the flow is pointed at the windshield just in case the windshield starts fogging up. I guess it's the blower piping that you see in the pic below:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0348.jpg

The data logger unit's display just behind the steering:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0344.jpg

The dashboard dials are removed and the void is covered with a plastic piece:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_03312.jpg

When you switch on the car, your name flashes on the screen for a second :
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0312.jpg

Speed, current gear, rpm, lap number and lap-time is displayed in a simple easy to read layout:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0311.jpg

The blue and the red buttons are the most important. The blue button is the master switch for all electrical systems in the car and is useful when one needs to quickly shut-down everything. The red button is for the fire extinguisher system. The collar around it ensures you don't operate it unintentionally:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0306.jpg

There are 2 similar buttons on the outside just below the windshield. This ensures that a track marshal can also shut down the car completely and operate the fire extinguisher system (if needed) from outside:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0450.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0451.jpg

The way to start the car is - Press blue button -> Press ignition -> Press clutch -> Press and hold the START button till the engine fires up -> Use the paddle shifter to engage first gear -> Build up few revs before slowly letting go the clutch. The pit-speed functionality limits the car's speed once it's in the pit-lane - a safety feature:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0307.jpg

Two interesting functions on the keypad -
1. Launch control - The way to use launch control is - press blue button -> ignition -> Press clutch -> START -> Press brake and switch to 1st gear -> press LAUNCH -> Leave the clutch and with one foot on brake give accelerator to build the desired rpm for launch -> as lights turn green, leave the brake.
Would need left foot braking or heel-toe technique to operate both brake and accelerator at the same time. I can do neither. So, didn't even try.

2. Push to Pass - This would give a temporary surge of 40-50 BHP for overtaking. Although the keypad has this provision, this functionality is not implemented yet. Most likely next year's car would see this.

The brain. The MoTeC M142 engine management system in the passenger side foot well:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0308.jpg

Just above the ECU, you can see the power distribution module PDM-30 as well:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0313.jpg

The electro-magnetic actuator for gear-changes. Don't get fooled by the small size. This compact package weighs about 8 kg and has been moved inside the cabin for better weight distribution. Another reason for moving it inside was to ensure that it doesn't get damaged in case of a shunt:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0333.jpg

Love the VW stamping on the bracket:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0314.jpg

That small red box is the main control unit for the onboard fire extinguisher system. The actual fire extinguisher is placed in the spare wheel well. Its liquid based and not powder based. Piping is laid from the extinguisher to the front of the car (as well as inside the engine bay) and there are bright red colored spray nozzles at the end points:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0347.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0341.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 12:01.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #6
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The Basics

How many of you have driven at Kari race-track before?
Most hands went up.

Next question for the remaining folks:
Have you driven at ANY race-track?
Another hand or two went up, leaving only two "race-track virgins" with sheepish smiles.

Adhish handed us over to Rayo for a crash course on how to drive on a race-track. He would take us around the track in the Polo explaining the basics for a few laps and then we have to drive the Polo GT for a few laps before graduating to the 1.8 L beast. I almost twisted my leg while getting into the back-seat of the Polo. I have always believed that the Polo should be a 2-seater.

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-screenshot_20170630093912.png
Rayo was driving the Polo and was giving a running commentary on what he was doing. Anybody can complicate things, but it takes a genius to simplify. Rayo made it very simple for us:
  • Tackling curves - Outside ->inside -> outside. Start from the outside of the curve, then get inside at the apex and then again move to the outside while you accelerate out of the curve.
  • Brake in a straight line.
  • Brake first and then downshift
  • For most curves, you have to be in 3rd gear. For a couple of them, you have to be in 2nd. Up-shift at around 5,000 rpm
  • After the main long straight, when you have to take the first corner, brake before the 100 meters mark, downshift and then tackle the curve.
  • Don't apply brakes gradually. Apply firm brakes and release the pressure slowly.
After the other gentleman did a few practice laps, it was my turn at the wheels of the Polo. Started the car and realized immediately that it's a TDI by the pulsations on the clutch pedal. After a couple of turns Rayo pointed out that I am moving my hands on the steering while taking the turns. He told me - clamp yours fists at 9 and 3 positions and keep them there even when you turn. I tried and was able to do it for next 2-3 turns till I reached a particularly sharp one and ended up locking my arms. I instinctively let go of the grip and went back to steering with one hand. Rayo took me to a small loop in the track just ahead of the pits and made me practice right turns without moving the grip from the steering. After a couple of rounds, I got a hang of it. I realized that if my line is wrong, the turn is too sharp and then my arms would criss-cross. Having driven manual cars throughout my life, I was habituated to having the left hand almost permanently on the gear-stick, which meant steering only with the right hand. Took a while to unlearn. Finally, I was ready to take my Ameo to the track!

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 11:59.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #7
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Track Driving Experience

Got into the seat after wearing the helmet and the support person fastened the 6-point harness. The net was pulled up and locked in position. He shut the driver side door and gave me a thumbs up.
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-img_20170615_104118153.jpg

I had fired up the engine and driven a few meters earlier when I took the car out for the pics. But it is still a special feeling when you press the 3 buttons in sequence and the engine comes to life with a roar. Since there is no attempt to smother the noise levels, it sounds raw and eager to go. Just touch the throttle and the decibel levels rise really fast with the revvs. I managed to stall the car a couple of times as I was not giving enough throttle while starting from a standstill. The seat has those protrusions on the sides of your head which are supposed to protect your head from an impact. Those protrusions were interfering with my peripheral vision. The helmet was making the matters worse. Before joining the track, I slowed down to check in the right mirror for any cars on the straight. With the helmet, the seat protrusions and the net, this was an especially difficult task as my back was almost pinned to the seat. Somehow, I gathered courage and forged ahead on the track. The first thing I noticed was how responsive the car was. With every press of the accelerator, the revvs and the speed climb really fast. The turbo kicks in from 1,800 rpm, which is pretty low for a petrol engine. The power delivery is extremely linear and there is no sudden burst that you experience in some cars. The lightweight flywheel ensures that the car is fairly quick to drop speeds when you let go off the accelerator. The tyres are awesome and have phenomenal grip that give you confidence to push the car. The gear shifts on the sequential gear-box are quite loud and take some time to get used to. In fact, they are so loud that for the first couple of times when you change gears, you wonder if you broke something.

The suspension is stiff and you can feel every bump on the road. When you clip the apex and go off-track even by a few inches, you know it inside the cabin. The dynamics are really sorted and the car retains its composure when you take the corners fast or do a quick change in direction. There is hardly any understeer. No noticeable rolling. The nose doesn't dive on hard braking. The ride is very firm. Not uncomfortable, just firm.

The car has lot of horses under its hood, but it still doesn't scare you. It doesn't behave like it's out to get you the moment you make a mistake. It's extremely forgiving that way. Near perfect for the intended users - the cup series drivers - not all of whom come with a lot of professional racing experience. Even when you carry too much of speed into the corner, you still maintain control. Brake hard and it doesn't fishtail.

It's very noisy inside the car. You can hear everything loud and clear - the engine, the exhaust, gear-shifts, the pebbles hitting the underbody. But undoubtedly, the best sound you hear inside the cabin is the turbo whistle which is so loud at high rpms that it almost drowns all other sounds.

The Kari track with corners marked. Yellow arrow indicates the short-circuited track when I was there:
Name:  kari_600.jpg
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I will never forget my first lap. Picked up speed once I exited the pit-lane. Braked around the 100 meters mark and dropped too much of speed. The brakes really have a bite and shed the speed quickly. Accelerated a bit again, but the first corner was just too close. Got off the accelerator and from outside I came to the inside. Accelerated out of the corner and was moving outside only to realize that I was not quick enough to move outside and the next right-handed corner is approaching fast. Had to abandon going outside and instead had to correct the line to hit the second corner. The next left-hander comes before I could blink the eye. I flicked the steering and tackled that. I picked up speed and thundered through the C4 and C5 rather easily. Stayed on the right after C5 as C6 is also a left hander. The C6 and C7 are in quick succession and I followed the instructions "stay on the inside after the 6th". After the straight, the track was closed and I had to take a 90 degree right into a narrow lane after the tower. Another right turn brought me on the main straight. Time to floor the accelerator and let the horses gallop. On to the 2nd lap, then 3rd. Soon I lost track of the time as I tried to correct mistakes from previous laps and attempted to do better.

There was just too much happening at the same time and I struggled initially to keep a tab on everything. I think I remained in 3rd (or was it 2nd) after the first corner and forgot to change gears till much later in the first lap. The noise levels inside the cabin give an incorrect perception about what speeds the car was doing. Remember how high speeds go unnoticed and feel much lower in a quiet well-damped car? In the Ameo race car it was exactly opposite. I was so busy looking at the track and the corners, that there was no time to look at the display. Only time I managed to glance at the display was when I was on the two straight portions of the track. On the final straight, I started accelerating and was amazed by how quickly the Ameo Cup car accelerates. For first few laps, like an idiot, I up-shifted too early on the main straight and was hitting barely 125-130 km/h before I had to brake for the first corner. I guess this premature up-shifting was from the diesel hangover of my daily drive. Started paying attention to the rpms on the straight. I was told to upshift at 5,000 rpm. For the first few laps, I was most likely upshifting at 2,500 - 3,000 rpm range and therefore not employing enough horses on the straight. I corrected that later and started hitting almost 150 km/h on the straight. I realized exactly how powerful the 1.8 L beast is when I started flooring the accelerator on the straight. It pulls like a locomotive and even at the end of the straight, you know that there are quite a few horses still untapped. On a longer straight, this car can easily top 200+. The brakes are extremely confidence inspiring and reassuring. There is no drama, no fishtailing, no twitching. The car maintains its balance and composure amazingly well on hard braking and that gives you confidence to push the car a bit more, brake a little later and a bit harder with every lap.

Here are a few pics of me driving:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3423.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3426.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3463.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3457.jpg

I was having too much fun and didn't even register how many laps I did before I was shown the flag to pull over (must be 15-20 laps). The first batch went on the track again. After my first session, I spent time with Ranjit to understand a few more things about the Ameo cup car. Adhish was kind enough to click the following snaps when I requested him.
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0428.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0432.jpg
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0440.jpg

In the second session, I started paying more attention to the gear-shifts, rpms besides the lines. In an unfamiliar car, you can't rely on your ears to accurately guess the current gear and rpm. So, I was constantly glancing at the display. This was distracting and I was clipping corners and going (a bit) off-road more often. A couple of times braked late and carried a bit too much of speed into the first corner. Heard the tyres squeal as I did a course-correction. Managed to lock the wheels once and felt the ABS kicking in. Just too many things were going on in the mind. Is it too loud? Ummm... looks like I down-shifted two gears instead of one. Let me correct that. Did I see another car in the rear-view mirror? Is he gaining on me? Have to be careful at the next corner not to hit him. I have gained too much of speed and I am now tailgating Rayo's Polo. Not good. Not safe. Back off a bit. I can't see enough on the right before joining the main straight. Should I just assume that there is nobody stalled right ahead? Just too many things. . Focus...you need lots of it. The moment your mind entertains any thought other than the track and the car - even for a brief second - the result is immediately visible. It could be a wrong line or wrong gear selection, too much of speed, too little speed, going off-track. You can't afford a fraction of a second of distraction.

I believe the range in which the front wheels turn with the steering input has been mechanically restricted in the car. Or maybe all the Polos/Ameos have a larger than usual turning radius. I flicked the steering a bit too fast a couple of times and managed to shake the car from its composure. This was obviously not intentional. I was in no way trying to test the car's limits but I was more concerned about the limits of my (non-existent) skills.

Display after the 2nd session:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-img_20170615_105637204.jpg

There was still some time left after 2 sessions and I asked the guys if I can go back on the track for quick 3-4 laps. A minute later I was in the car. Dashcam footage tends to show irritating dashboard reflection when the camera is mounted inside the car. Till now that's where the cam was placed. For last set of laps, I moved the camera to the outside of the windshield. Glanced at the camera a few times during the lap to check if it is still there. Pulled over after a couple of laps and mounted the cam again inside pointing at me. Took help from one of the support guys, but somehow the camera was not in recording mode. Something that I realized only later. I had a flight to catch and I was running out of time fast. So, these were going to be my final 1-2 laps on the track today. Due to the confidence gathered from the 2 sessions, I was driving a bit harder than before. Suddenly at corner #2, I noticed another car in the rear-view mirror. I tackled the C3 and was thundering towards C4-C5 and was distracted by the car in the mirror. Possibly flicked the steering a bit too much and the car spun on its axis and went into a new portion of the track that was closed with some 3-4 tyres placed at the entry.

This is the section I am talking about. I was supposed to go straight:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-vlcsnap2017070122h55m04s18.png

I distinctly remember going over one of those tyres and muttering under my breath …shit...shit…shit… SHIT. Did I damage anything? I wasn't sure. It was best to stop and assess. I stopped the car and tried to change to Neutral. It won't change. The engine was still on. The car behind had noticed what happened and stopped on the main track and got help. In about a minute a mechanic appeared at the scene. The first thing he signaled was to shut down everything. I did that. He came to the window and told me that there's a tyre stuck at the front. He tried to pull it out, but it wouldn't budge. Finally, he asked me step out and continued his effort. In the meantime, Rayo pulled up in the Polo and asked me to get in. He asked me what was I doing in the closed section of the track and I told him I spun out and ended up there.

It might look like my front right tyre came off the rim, but it's just the angle of the pic:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-img_20170615_120122042.jpg

A jack was taken to the track and then the stuck tyre was removed. Later I inquired if there was any damage to the car and I was told not to worry, there's no damage. That was a relief, but I still felt bad about how my last lap ended. Now I had completely run out of time. So, had a quick 5-minute lunch and got into the Innova and headed for the airport after saying goodbye to Ranjit and Rayo.

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 11:58.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #8
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Some videos captured by the SJCAM. Please ignore the time-stamp. Changed the battery and forgot to reset the date and time:






Sharing few pics from those shared by VWMI:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-sat_4915.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_3099.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-sat_4893.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-sat_4664.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-sat_4914.jpg

Some action on the track:
Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_2347.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_2293.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_2300.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-_sat3718.jpg

Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-adi_2320.jpg

PS: In case you are wondering, in the action pics, the guy in the white Ameo with TSI stickers is not me. Those pics are from an earlier batch.

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 11:57.
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Old 15th July 2017, 11:53   #9
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Other Points
  • The 266 BHP map for the same car has been worked upon and is ready. The car needs 97 Octane fuel in that state of tune. In India, what is being sold as 97 sometimes turns out to be 91-92 when tested. That's one of the reasons why the 266 BHP map is not being used here. Other reason is that the VW single-make cup series are intended for developing budding racers and 266 BHP might be just too steep a step at that level.
  • The Ameo Cup car weighs about 1,150 kg. The stock weighs in the 1,044 - 1,184 kg range depending on variant and trim level. Stripping out a lot of trim and non-essential stuff has reduced weight. On the other hand, the bigger engine, the roll-cage, gear controller, fire extinguisher adds to the weight.
  • A season typically needs about 300 wheels!
  • The Ameo cup car apparently costs about Rs. 38 lakh to build. This is higher than last year. The participant registration fees have not gone up though.
  • The first Ameo Cup car built by the VWMI team was parked nearby. This was spotted a few months back. (Link).
    Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0468.jpg
  • They have built 7-8 cars after the first couple of zebra striped Ameos. The cup series would have about 15 participants. The remaining 10-12 odd cars would be built in next 4 weeks (starting from 15th June).
  • The following 3 cars parked around the pit-lane were special. From right to left they were the N, R series and circuit-racing spec. These are race-spec cars that are apparently street-legal. They are made to order and are customizable.
    Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0418.jpg

    Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)-dsc_0279.jpg
  • Winners from previous years have participated in similar events organized by VW Motorsport divisions of a few other countries. One such gentleman participated in the VW China event and ended up 2nd. There are others as well who have done well.
  • At the Chennai track, in the Ameo Cup Car, Karthik Tharanisingh (Test Driver and former Polo Cup champion) has shaved off 4.6 seconds from last year's Vento Cup Car lap-times. So, this year's Ameo Cup 2017 season is definitely going to be action packed.
Finally, thanks GTO for this opportunity and thank you VWMI for one hell of an experience. The Ameo cup 2017 race car is really a beast. Although I have been driving for 20+ years now, race-cars are a different breed and I was a bit skeptical whether I would be able to handle a 202 BHP monster. But the simplicity of the whole package is just amazing. The car makes you comfortable in just a few laps and is extremely forgiving even in those learning laps when you make a few mistakes. In the hands of professionals this car would be really something. I am definitely going to follow the developments in the Ameo Cup 2017 season, now that I have a personal connection. That helmet which would have definitely been disposed off in the recent home renovation, is now part of memorabilia and would surely remain with me forever.

Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer: VW invited Team-BHP for the Ameo Cup experience. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 11:55.
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Old 15th July 2017, 12:22   #10
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Default Re: Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Motorsport Section!

An incredible car and I must say, SDP....you've done full justice to it with an incredible report. Felt like I was there with you. Many thanks for sharing; rating thread a full 5 stars. I can't think of a better weekend read for an enthusiast.

As they say, bet this experience was one for the (memory) bank.

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2017 at 12:24.
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Old 15th July 2017, 13:33   #11
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Default Re: Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Thanks for the detailed report. Loved reading it. This is a perfect race spec Ameo. 266 HP tune in future is really great .
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Old 15th July 2017, 18:02   #12
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Default Re: Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Lucky you! And thanks for sharing this nice report!

I didn't know the Ameo Cup car had an AMT transmission. Always presumed it to be a DSG. A DSG would have made your life easier on the track.

And on flywheel, a race car got a lighter flywheel to make the engine more responsive, the revs climb and drop fast compared to a road car and that helps both acceleration and deceleration when you change the gears. The transitions got to be quick while on a track. Also, a race car engine doesn't need to bother about vibrations which is the other function of a heavy flywheel.
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Old 15th July 2017, 19:34   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Wife was worried and said seriously - “Drive slow”. I almost rolled my eyes and said “Yeah! That’s what race cars are meant for. Driving SLOW!”. I want to stay married, so instead I told her with a straight face that I would be careful. My son had a hearty laugh though.


You write well and I should congratulate you for steering us all in an excited mode till the end. The pics were beautiful, the angles clean and thanks a ton for those videos with the real sounds from inside the cabin. I felt as if I was your co driver
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Old 15th July 2017, 21:12   #14
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Default Re: Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Amazing writeup there! Happy to see the videos as well. This is what an enthusiast dreams for and I'm happy to say that I've experienced this through your report. And yes, the pictures are poster worthy.

Can you share some more information about the road-legal Polos you mentioned at the end? I'm sure many of us here would like to get their hands on one if reasonably priced.
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Old 15th July 2017, 23:33   #15
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Default Re: Driven: The VW Ameo Cup Race Car @ Kari Speedway (1.8L TSI, 202 BHP, 320 Nm)

Wow! Great write up. Thanks to your write up and those dashcam videos, I feel as if I've just come back from driving those cars on track! Impeccable report.

One thing that struck me was how subdued road legal cars are! Basically they take out the fun ingredient from the car in the name of combating pollution (which is a good thing for everyone except less than 1% of the hardcore enthusiasts). Since the future is electric, my friend, you should be grateful that you got to experience such an event. After a few years, no matter how much money one has, this won't be possible.

And ah, driving on the track..bliss! Will ask all bhpians, no matter which car they own; please go on the track once in your lifetime! Ain't no joy as comparable as track driving.

Last edited by The Brutailer : 15th July 2017 at 23:34.
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