Tag: ark design

Team USA – a long story cut short

The story of ARK Design’s WTAC campaign really started in 2012. Looking a lot more subtle that the machine we saw at this year’s event,  the car was happily awaiting being shipped to Sydney, Australia when it got accidentally picked up and put on a different ship, bound for China. True story that!

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Two years and a complete overhaul later, the ARK Design R32 GTR finally made it to Sydney. Sporting a new engine, a different drivetrain and a host of new modifications, the car was also now very well endowed in the aero department.

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Having arrived early, Eric Hsu and his team used the time to put finishing touches on the car and ensure it was ready for the practice day. Unfortunately, this is where the dreaded mechanical gremlins reared their ugly heads.

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Team USA seemed to be on a perpetual back foot, battling electrical issues that caused a malfunction and eventual destruction of the original and the back up ECU. Eric resorted to building a complete jumper harness from scratch to suit the replacement ECU.

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When the car arrived back in the pit garage early Saturday morning, after another all-nighter in a local workshop, we were hoping to finally see the raw power and speed of the menacing looking R32. Alas, it was not to be.

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The car managed to go out twice but limped back to the pits without putting any times on the board.

There is one thing that needs mentioning here, Eric’s team never gave up. They worked almost continously throughout the entire event, day and night and did everything humanly possible to get the car running.

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“They are one of the most professional teams I have ever been involved with,” said Team USA’s hired driver, Australian rally ace Steve Glenney,  “I would be honoured to drive for them again.”

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Eric Hsu was more sombre in his assessment: “We were ill prepared and that’s nobody’s fault but our own. We need to step it up for 2015 and that’s really all there is to it.”

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One of our favourite ARK-related quotes comes from our American friends, MotoIQ: “There is only one way to make everyone forget about the bad showing at this year’s WTAC. Show up next year…and dominate!” Amen to that.

As they say, nothing cures failure like success, so from our end we would like nothing more than to see Team USA back at WTAC next year with all guns blazing.

Team America ready to attack

The final entry in our Pro Class field this year is the ARK Design R32 GTR. Much has been written about this build on MotoIQ so it was great to finally catch up with Eric Hsu in Sydney as the car was getting fine tuned for the World Time Attack Challenge.

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WTAC: How is everything going, is the car all sorted now?
Eric Hsu: The car was on the dyno last night, we had a few issues with the head, which we have been figuring out and I think we have fixed, I have been here for a few weeks already, just trying to get the car prepared for the event.

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It is a pretty complicated build, with a lot of new and untested ideas but we are working to get it all ready for the Thursday practice session.

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WTAC: What’s changed on the car since 2012?
EH: We didn’t really work on the car for 2013 for a number of reasons, but it was a thrash to get it ready for 2014. The car has a new aero package, a new turbo setup and heaps of new designed parts.

A lot of the stuff is one off fabrication. Im really excited about the engine , it’s my favorite part of the build and it should be making the numbers for the event.

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WTAC: We hear you will have Steve Glenney behind the wheel?

EH: Yes, Glenney is great, we met him years ago at one of the earlier WTAC events and would hang out after the event at the cargo bar.

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I have respect for him because he is all onboard to drive what is essentially an untested, machine with a lot of new untested ideas. He is familiar with the track and I think he will do a great job on the day.

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WTAC: We’ll let you get back to work then and I guess we will see you at track tomorrow?

EH: Yeah, tomorrow is an important day, we’ll need to use all track time we can get during practice so we are ready to go on Friday.

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ARK Design R32 GTR to be unveiled at WTAC

Veiled in a shroud of secrecy, the “Team America” R32 GTR has been loaded onto a ship and is on its way to compete at the 2014 Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge in Australia.

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“This is a brand new build,” said Eric Hsu, “We featured the build on MotoIQ but the finished car will be unveiled in Australia, at WTAC.”

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“We promised Andrew Brilliant that we will not disclose the details of the complete aero package before the event and we want to honour that promise” added Eric. “That’s why we have opted to officially unveil the car at the event.”

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The build is both clever and extensive with the team spending a lot of time ensuring the car will be able to successfully tackle the SMP WTAC circuit.

“We enlisted the help of aero ace Andrew Brilliant to help us with an aero package for the car and most of the revisions were done to accommodate his design” said Mike Kojima.

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“In order to make the most of our Andrew Brilliant designed aero package, we had to utilize every bit of air going around the front of the car in the quest to develop an ample amount of downforce.  At the same time, we also wanted to take as much weight off of the front of the car and to shorten the length of the intake tract as much as possible. It wasn’t an easy task” Mike added.

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“There is still a bit of work ahead of us,” said Eric Hsu, “we are going to hit the ground running when the car arrives in Australia, but I feel confident we will be competitive on the day.”

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So, while we can’t share any images of the finished car with you, we can say this: October can’t come soon enough. See you there!

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Team America burn the midnight oil

Anyone who has built a high level race car from scratch will know the thousands of man hours involved. Many professional race teams around the world would be already constructing their new car for the 2013 or possibly even the 2014 season now.

Often it will take a whole year or more to get a car properly constructed so when Eric Hsu told us earlier this year that they would be totally rebuilding his old XS engineering R32 GTR to a Pro Class car with the potential to win World Time Attack we knew he would have his work cut out for him.

Eric has come so close to drinking the victory champagne for the past two years at WTAC with the Sierra Sierra team that he is on an absolute mission to take the trophy back to the USA at least once in his life and will stop at nothing until it happens.

The plan was hatched early in 2012 and the car was stripped and the Team America guys have pretty well worked 24/7 ever since, only stopping to sleep and eat when they are on the verge of collapse.

A fact worth mentioning is that ALL of these guys have had to work at day jobs (with the exception of Gary Castillo who has worked full time on the project) and then put every waking hour in their spare time to make this dream come true. Talk about dedication!

The level of work going into this is astounding with a total refit including cage and chassis, suspension, dash panels and repowering with a Cosworth VQ35, then making this work with the ATTESSA four wheel drive system and a Holinger gearbox…

With the car due to ship out in the next few weeks it is unlikely the team will get anything more than a shakedown before the car is loaded into a container and headed down under.

While they comment that this year will be no more than a “development year” with a view to taking home the goods in 2013 we tend to think they will still be further up the field than you would expect them to be with a new car. The reason? Look at the calibre and experience of the team involved!

Most of the crew are from Cosworth, Mike – the suspension tech is one of the best in the business and you can bet these guys will hit the ground running, fix any teething problems in no time, analyze data and make the right changes fairly quickly and be “in the ballpark” well before they head home.

Check out the build progress here.   We can’t wait to see this amazing car in the flesh!


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