528KW 2.2-LITRE S14 CIRCUIT MASTER
A racer’s mind is a hectic environment, for, as well as all the normal brain-wave activity, you’ll find it chock full of mathematical equations, scenario simulations, and problem-solving circuits, all of which run around the clock. Even during normal daily tasks, those brain programmes are constantly ticking over, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, aimed at the goal of going faster. This is why a racer’s car is never truly complete; it will remain in a perpetual state of evolution until the day it’s crashed, sold, or shelved to move onto the next project.
The E&H Motors S14 has been going through this process for the past nine years. In fact, wind the clock back some 67 issues, and you will find this very car gracing the pages of Issue No. 184. At the time, a younger Hans Ruiterman was really only just beginning on the road to dialling in his S-chassis for grip, following a fleeting flirtation with drift.
It was originally purchased as a crashed shell with the intention of building it into a cheap drifter, which was soon followed by a hypo 500kW SR20VET, before Hans discovered his love for grip racing, an arena he found to be a much more natural habitat.
This led him down the rabbit hole, and, over the following five years, the S14 went from raw untamed weapon to precise circuit sniper, and a formidable contender in both the NZ Superlap series and GTRNZ. Current PBs have Hans circulating the likes of Hampton Downs at a blistering-fast 1min 6.5s, Pukekohe at 1min 7.1s, Manfeild at 1min 10.1s, and Taupo at 1min 32.5s. It wasn’t an easy road to get to this point, but doing double duties has certainly had its advantages. “I find Superlap really good to focus on car set-up; it’s quite satisfying to go out in the right head space and focus on running the lone perfect lap. I really enjoy the set-up side of it. Whereas, with GTRNZ, it doesn’t really matter about running a perfect lap as long as you’re passing guys and [are] up in the field. I love the amount of seat time you get,” Hans says. While making
power has always come easy, harnessing that power in a rearwheel-drive (RWD) platform is a different story, and therein lies the challenge of circuit racing. It’s a constant master class in car setup — there isn’t a lap that doesn’t teach you something and inspire you to come up with new ways of obtaining perfection.
This has led to upgrades in all aspects of the suspension package. As Hans has progressed as a driver–come–race engineer, the car has also become a lot stiffer, in terms of both spring rate and the inclusion of rose joints or urethane to replace rubber bushes. “I’ve played with spring rates, geometry, ride height, and the sway bar a lot. We went stiffer and stiffer until the car was beginning to skip, then backed it off slightly. It’s basically as stiff as it practically can be,” he tells us. It is also now considerably lower, thanks to custom 40mm drop knuckles up front and modified Parts Shop Max 40mm drop knuckles at the rear. Adjustability has been built in wherever possible, with anti-dive, roll centre, camber gain, bump toe, and traction all adjustable at the turn of a few rods.
The other side of the grip increase came last year with the addition of some proper aero aids, all built and designed in-house at E&H to the maximum allowed dimensions in both MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) Schedule A, and the World Time Attack Challenge Open Class rules. Says Hans, “I was looking to run the car in Sydney and didn’t want to develop something that didn’t fit with those rules.” The aero package includes a front splitter that runs back to the front axle line, a custom front bumper, a rear diffuser from the rear axle line back, and a rather large wing that was built locally. Said wing is a serious piece of real estate, which transfers the generated downforce through the boot to a structure connected directly to the chassis. But making these additions didn’t instantly see Hans smash his personal lap record; in fact, it was a six-month process. “Initially, I wasn’t really much faster, until I dialled things up,” he explains. “Once it was dialled in, I was a second to a second-and-a-half faster. It’s really planted now, which is a super-cool feeling. It’s got so much downforce, but now I need more — it’s the same old story, the more you have, the more you want.”
With more and more grip being dialled in, it was inevitable that more power and torque would soon be sought. But as there was
Both the front and rear undertrays are compliant with WTAC Open class rules, which dictate they must only run to the axle line front and rear
already 500kW on tap, it wasn’t a quest for outright power; rather, a hunt for low- to mid-range torque, which took place half-way through the 2015 to ’16 season, when the old SR20 finally gave way following three seasons of big-boost torture. Hans saw this as the perfect opportunity to step things up: “I thought we would try something to get some more bottom end and mid range, so went to a 2.2-litre Nitto stroker.” The very-well-developed VE head combination from the old 2.0-litre variant was transferred over, as was the custom twin-chamber plenum and BorgWarner EFR 8374 turbo. The dyno results didn’t disappoint. “In the end, the power curve was actually rather similar — but it comes on a lot harder now, with a lot more torque down low,” he says. But having all this extra power on tap is nothing without control. Hans elects to run two different boost control methods. This means that the power curve can be as aggressive or mellow as the track conditions will allow, and it’s something that is constantly tweaked come race weekend.
This coming season will be the first in five years that Hans has not run the S14 every other weekend in this constant pursuit. The reason being a new chassis is on the horizon, one that promises to be faster, lower, wider, and a much better chassis from the get go. That chassis is an S15, which puts into practice the past nine years of S-chassis development: “The WTAC Open Class rules allow you to go 250mm wider overall, so we would have had to undo everything in this chassis and start from scratch. It’s at a point [that] I’m really happy with, and [I] didn’t want to go cutting it up just to start again. This way, even if I end up having to swap the driveline over, all this work won’t be wasted.”
This summer, the S14 will be out at selected local events so that Hans can get his driving fix, but, with the car now at the end of its road, we will all have to wait patiently to see just how bonkers the new chassis will be — it certainly has some big shoes to fill.
With a wing of this size, the downforce created would destroy the boot if it weren’t for alloy structure, which transfers the pressure directly to the chassis