1900CC OF FURY
BUILDING A 9A-GTE RACE ENGINE
When you think fast front-wheel drives here in New Zealand, there’s one New Zealand–based car in particular springs to mind, one that’s been asserting its authority for well over a decade now. Barry Manon’s 9A-GTE-powered 1988 Toyota Levin GTZ is no stranger to this magazine, from running 10s back in 2010, before making the switch to circuit racing and focusing on Time Attack, to the development of a 400-plus-kilowatt, 20-valve 9A-GTE turbo. Focusing on his local Hampton Downs and Pukekohe Park tracks, it wasn’t long before Barry had wrangled the surprisingly simple chassis into the 1.08s around Hampton — but this was when the surge problems started. Being one of the world’s most renowned Toyota 4A-G builders through his company Manon Racing Products (MRP), Barry is no stranger to building tough 9A-GTEs, but even his own custom-baffled wet sumps were no match for the Gs, as he explains: “I got away with the wet sump for a long time, but as soon as I started running 1.08s around Hampton, it just couldn’t stop the surge; there was too much g-force around the final corner. I guess [it’s] being front-wheel drive, and the sump being where it is — it’s on the wrong side, like [in] an Evo — you really want the bulge on the passenger side. If it was a left-hand track, it would probably be OK.”
For the coming season, Barry will step up to a completely new engine build both to address this issue and in the quest for more mid range with a slight topend increase. Keeping the block together when pushing over 400kW requires a girdle plate to hold the bores square, which was attached to the brand spanking new-old-stock 7A-FE block before being honed and line bored. Barry tells us that the 7A-FE block doesn’t need too much more attention until you start pushing four-digit power figures, when you grout fill the block.
The rotating assembly consists of a custom eight-bolt stroker crank, and, unlike his previous engine build, this one features large counterweights in an attempt to reduce harmonics. It’s something that Barry tells us has become more and more popular with high-power engines, with builders steering away from knife-edged cranks. To counter this added weight, the flywheel has been put on a diet. The bores measure 81.5mm, while the stroke measures 90mm, thanks to Saenz I-beam rods with DLC-coated pins. The 9.0:1-compression pistons have been custom-made by CP Carillo for Barry and feature special rings, ceramic coating on the crown, and Teflon-coated skirts. Bearings are ACL Race Series, with MRP-modified mains, in an attempt to properly feed oil to the rods. Further oiling upgrades include machining the block to accept oil squirters and the inclusion of a dry-sump system. The pump itself is a three-stage AT Power unit, while the rest of the kit has been developed in-house at MRP, including a baffled dry-sump pan and billet mount kit.
The rotating assembly consists of a custom eight-bolt stroker crank, and, unlike his previous engine build, this one features large counterweights in an attempt to reduce harmonics
Again, a 4A-GE 20-valve head will be utilized, although, this time, the CNC porting has been taken to the next level, especially on the exhaust side, in a quest to build boost quicker. “We have gone with oversized Inconel for the exhaust valves, as we were finding the old ones to be pitted and worn due to the ethanol and heat after a season’s running. The inlet valves are stainless, and we’re using Supertech off-the-shelf springs, bronze guides, and OEM retainers,” he says. The cams are the same custom Kelfords that the last engine ran, as Barry is limited by his small 1900cc capacity, and believes that these cams strike a good balance between power and mid range. Having previously suffered issues with the head pushing water at high boost, even with oversized 11mm studs, the new engine will be clamped with 12mm items and use a TRD multilayer gasket with a stopper layer.
With improved mid range the main focus, the Turbonetics turbo has been further modified with larger wheels and T4 exhaust housing — “[t]he theory being to try to keep things (charge temp) cooler with the larger twin-scroll ports,” Barry explains. The old billet compressor wheel was maxing its flow at 410kW, so a larger billet unit was also fitted to handle upwards of 520kW. A new twin-scroll manifold will be built by Dan Salter and use a pair of Gen 5 Turbosmart 40mm gates controlled by the A’PEXi controller. The intake side of the equation will remain from the previous set-up, with ported quad throttles with 47mm butterflies and internal bellmouths in the two-piece custom plenum.
Barry expects the new package to be in the car within a month and will be back on the dyno at ST Hi-tec, where the car has always been dynoed, to backto-back the graphs with the old 420kW set-up. The electronics will remain, with the trusty old Autronic SMC ECU and M&W CDI.
With a few changes to stiffen up the old chassis including extending the roll cage, new ratios in the custom MRP dogbox, and some weight loss, Barry’s PB at both Auckland tracks is surely on borrowed time.
With a few changes to stiffen up the old chassis including extending the roll cage, new ratios in the custom MRP dogbox, and some weight loss, Barry’s PB at both Auckland tracks is surely on borrowed time