Finland is famous for freezing winters, cozy log cabins and producing some of the best motorsport names on the planet. Names like Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkönen, Tommi Mäkinen, Valtteri Bottas, Ari Vatanen and many many more. In fact with a population of 5.3 million people it would be fair to say this country has produced more motorsport superstars per capita than any country in the world. They also have their fair share of super talented engineers and constructors with a very healthy motorsport culture ensuring this occurs year after year. And time attack is certainly one of the motorsports that is growing exponentially in this region and in 2017 Finnish team Racingline will be making the incredibly long trip to Sydney with their home built supercar, a car affectionately known as the Audi R8 1:1.
We caught up with their legendary team manager, car constructor and all round good guy Jyrki Repo in his hometown of Vantaa Finland to ask him some questions as Sami Sivonen and his Finland-based team are busily preparing their insane 1kg per 1hp – Audi R8 for this year’s WTAC Pro Am – class and it is sure to throw a cat amongst the pigeons!
WTAC: Hi Jyrki. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. Tell us a bit about the Audi R8 1:1.
Jyrki: Hello, and thanks for the introduction. “Legendary” is a big word, and I am not quite sure if I am up to being one, but yes, thanks for kind words. True every word about Finland producing legends, though. Could add the inventor of the “Scandinavian flick”, Timo Mäkinen, who was the first to drift around corners, in the 60’s in a Mini. However, the Audi is the lovechild of mine. Sami gave me a budget to stay in, and otherwise I got freedom to do whatever I wanted, as long as the car is fast.
WTAC: So how did the 1:1 concept come about?
Jyrki: We introduced the project briefly after the car was purchased from Germany in September 2015, in our own time attack driver’s forum in Finland. Miika Toivonen mentioned in that discussion, the power to weight ratio of the R8 should be 1000/1000, a thousand kilos and thousand hp. I just removed the zeros and we were set. So we can thank Miika for this brand.
WTAC: So this car did not start life as a GT3 race car it is totally built as a time attack car from the get go is this correct?
Jyrki: No, not at all. We bought a track day car from Germany. As it was unregistered, it was cheap. It was otherwise stock, but it had a very badly built rollcage and a fire extinguisher in it. It is a pre production car, an had only 30 000 kilometers on it. However, it came with the R-tronic gearbox, which really is not suitable for racing at all. Hence Sami asked me to get a racing gearbox for it. And that is when the project got a bit out of hands.
WTAC: Did you build all of this in-house? Tell us a bit about this and who else is involved.
Jyrki: Yes, Sami stripped the car down to the bone with his fiancé Mervi.
Kalle Tyrkkö is our 1st technician, and he made some of the rollcage changes and fixes, he also was involved with most of the tedious mechanical labor parts of the build. Pauli Manninen did most of the CAD work, refining my ideas and making FEM analysis for the parts we designed. Tero Talvensaari from TT Speed made the electric system. And I made everything else. Of course some stuff needed to be outsourced, such as CNC milling and DLC coating, but we made all the chassis mods, carbon panel fittings, floor panels, whole turbo arrangement, all fuel systems etc. ourselves.
WTAC: And what about the engine. We hear 1300hp is this correct? What sort of development is involved in this and also getting the surrounding components to survive this output?
Jyrki: 1300 hp is a working figure, as the car was branded to one kg per one hp. It weighed 1299kg with fuel tank filled to the rim, and Sami in it, with his driving gear. The old 5.0 motor produced 1220WHP on 1.4 bar boost, which it made on 75% wastegate duty. We did try higher duty cycles, but it wouldn’t stay on rollers, no matter what we did. At the end we had like 20 ratchet straps on the car, pulling it down, and we glued the tyres and tried different pressures. No joy, all pulls ended up in white smoke, tyres blazing on rollers.
At the track it made 1.6 bar to the midrange on 5th and 6th gear. Fuel consumption and performance allows us to assume the real output is in the 1500hp region. It drinks over 11 liters of E85 per minute on full throttle. It accelerates from 100 to 200kph in 3.9 seconds, and from 200 to 250 in less than 1.8 seconds, because of more boost on higher gears. 180-266kph took 202 meters. Now all this being said, the 5 liter motor was pulled apart after our finals, for scheduled maintenance, it turned out the crank was bent and block cracked.
Hence new, stronger in every aspect, 5.2 liter motor is being built. It will run the same turbo package, so maximum output will not change, it just should be a lot more reliable. I cannot really go in to all the details, but we did make modifications to the valvetrain and bottom end assembly, to take the abuse. However, block and crank were bone stock, which proved to be not strong enough for this application. 5.2 is different beast, and has lot more beef everywhere, especially in the crank and block, in regions where it failed.
As mentioned above, we have racing gearbox. It is Australian made, by Holinger, and is more than happy to hold this kind of loads. We pulled it apart after last season, and although it came to Finland after doing full season in Targa Tasmania, added with the abuse we gave, it was still in very good condition. Driveshafts we also replaced with used Audi Sport GT3 endurance items, and they seem to hold fine. Also, might be a surprise to some of our viewers, we ditched the front wheel drive, hence it’s now RWD
WTAC: And we know that you Finnish guys take WTAC very seriously. In fact Sami, Aki that runs the TA series in Finland and yourself made it out to WTAC in 2016 and leased a Golf to run in Clubsprint class just to learn the track and how the event operates. What was your feeling when you left last year?
Jyrki: Yes indeed, Racingline Australia was kind enough to lend us a car for club sprint, so we decided to fly over for me to get familiar with the event and for Sami to learn the track. Sami likes the track, and he said it will be awesome to launch the Audi down the hill on main straight, and then trying to hit in to the fast left hander. Me on the other hand, was just amazed by the level of the pro teams, the builds and the event itself. Especially I liked the high end TV production, and the announcers. This is something we do not have in Europe. Swedes have TV show of their races, but it is not live.
WTAC: And what did Sami think of the circuit in regards to suiting the R8 1.1?
Jyrki: The tyres are a big question. Our car obviously is a bit violent for the rears. But otherwise high speed track suits our car well.
We are lucky enough to have a similar corner to Eastern Creek turn 1, at Botniaring, where we can compare our high speed corner pace. On straights we will be strong, for sure.
WTAC: And is there anything else you would like to tell us about the Audi R8 1.1
Jyrki: Yes, when we announced our co operation with Racingline, we saw lot of people being upset about millionaires coming with mega budgets and such, and adding a hundred thousand dollar turbo kit in to a GT3 car. This cannot be further from the truth. Although our car looks fancy from the distance, all body panels looking like a gt3, there is one single carbon item that was purchased new. Everything else is either used or replica.
We made things like centerlocks, clutch, rear wing, all fueling, all turbo setup, engine mounts, intercoolers, radiatior ducts, everything ourselves, in Sami’s garage. So, no, this is not million dollar build. Not even half a million. And yes indeed, not even a quarter million. We just got innovative on how to source some really expensive parts for reasonable money. Also, we have also had healthy sponsor budget, which always helps. For that we need to thank our publicist, Antti “El Puerco” Lankinen, who makes awesome videos of our races.
WTAC: Awesome we cant wait to see you in October. We hear this is just one part of a TEAM FINLAND two car team. You can tell us about the second car a bit later!
Jyrki: Thanks, I am already getting excited for all this. Indeed there is something brewing. But there is lot of work with that one. And it is going to be a whole another animal.
The R8 1:1 – team worked hard all of winter 2016 to finish their twin turbo R8 build in time to compete in Timeattack Finland season 2016. They got the car running for the latter half of the season, and clocked lap times very close to tin top track records in their season finals, at Botniaring, in Finland last September. Something’s been cooking, as the livery of the car has changed dramatically. Also rumors say even stronger engine is being built, to replace the 1300hp 5.0l powerplant they had last year. Is the 1:1 power to weight ratio going to be changed in to something even crazier? You bet.
Check out the team’s Facebook page to follow their updates on their preparations for WTAC Sydney 2017!
Check Episode 1 of the Audi R8 1:1 – Journey to Sydney Video: