CON­STANT REV­O­LU­TION

528KW 2.2-LITRE S14 CIR­CUIT MAS­TER

NZ Performance Car - - Contents - WORDS: MAR­CUS GIB­SON PHO­TOS: ADAM CROY

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

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