Testing at Blyton Park
After weeks of waiting, there was finally a break in the weather (for longer than 24 hours), the perennial rain subsided and testing at Blyton Park was confirmed. Hooray!
Departing Manchester at 6.30am bathed in bright sunshine and clear blue skies was unexpected but very welcome indeed. Temperatures were forecast to be in the early 20Cs and all was well. However, on crossing the Pennines into Yorkshire, the temperature dropped from 19C to 11C and blue skies turned to grey; perhaps our early morning optimism was a little too optimistic.
On arrival at Blyton Park things started to improve, especially as we had the track to ourselves. Redux 001/030 was carefully unloaded and Dave set to work prepping his laptop ready to run his ECU checks. Ric would ease around the circuit so he and Dave could check her set up, spring rates, general feel and ensure the ECU data fell within the defined parameters. Therefore, they did a couple of laps, came in, dealt with any niggles, then headed straight out again. This was repeated four or five times, with each session getting a little quicker but still well within her limits. Initial feedback from them both was positive and with a few tweaks of the oil pressure and adjustments to the damper settings they were off again.
After a couple of hours and some further adjustments, the keys were handed to our CEO, Simon, and with Dave in the passenger seat, he headed out (he immediately stalled her…SL: In my defence, the AP Racing clutch is a little more aggressive than a standard E30’s, and I did only stall her once!).
“As I approached her, the first sensation that hit me was the sonorous exhaust tone; sublime! On opening the door, John’s interior looked fantastic (the first time I’d seen it properly in daylight); the Nappa trimmed Italvolanti wheel felt just right, the DTM shifter with BMW Motorsport golf ball was at the perfect height, and the leather trimmed Recaro SPGs were comfortable and provide plenty of support.
Pulling onto the track she eased down the short straight; the turbo spooling up quickly and smoothly coming into play around 2,000rpm – it’s not an old school hit of power, more like a wave, which just keeps on building. The Exe-TC 3-way dampers made cornering exceptionally stable and precise, dealing with the transition through the chicanes with aplomb. Once I’d completed a couple of sighting laps and was confident the brakes and tyres were in, I started to ease her speed up and brake later. After a few more runs, I exited the second chicane, pointed her nose down the back straight, pressed the accelerator and got my first full dose of 380hp and 380lbft of torque; it was seriously impressive! Next thing I knew I was hitting the brake pedal and shifting down a gear into the left-hander. All I wanted to do now was get another that hit of that boost, accompanied by a throaty rasp from the exhaust and a gentle whistle from the turbo; heaven!
The cabin is road car quiet and it’s easy to hold a conversation without raising your voice – exactly as I wanted. The combination of the lightweight sound deadening material, wool carpets and Alcantara has created an environment which is perfect for road trips. The exhaust doesn’t drone or impact on the driver’s experience with the windows up, but when they’re down, it sounds absolutely stunning! I ended up doing about a 10-15 minute session (I honestly lost track of time), which left a BIG smile on my face. When Dave gave me that knowing look, I knew it was time to park her up and let her cool down for a while.
By the end of the morning, Dave was happy with the data – no excessive temperatures and no engine knocking – and Ric was happy with her feel and his engine’s performance; he’s built a beauty and the turbo has made her a very special E30 M3, which gives you that perfect combination of compliant road car and very capable track car.”
So, Ric’s almost finished with his post-test checks, then she’s off to the body shop and detailing guys to make her look beautiful before she sails back across the Atlantic to the US of A. Once stateside, first stop is Ohio for a short stay with our friends at EAG where Simon will meet her to show Eric and his team what we’ve created. From there, she’s heading westwards to The Thermal Club for delivery to her owner, which we’re all very excited about. The validation of everyone’s hard work, and Simon’s vision, will be him coming into the pits after his first drive grinning from ear to ear.