STORM BRINGER

WHEN A SNOW STORM CALLED TIME ON THE MAP­PING OF KARL HULL’S CARBONCLAD TOY­OTA, THE 520BHP POWER FIG­URE WAS WELL BELOW THE CAR’S CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES. BUT, WITH PLANS TO UN­LEASH THE FULL 700BHP+ PO­TEN­TIAL, THIS IS ONE MR2 THAT’S SNOW JOKE…

Japanese Performance - - WHAT’S IN - WORDS: EMMA WOODCOCK PICS: DAN SHER­WOOD

34 Track-tuned Toy­ota MR2 turbo packs a 520bhp punch and Abflug styling

Pic­ture this: Sigh­ing down the scenery, dust­ing the deck, fleck by florid fleck the snow be­gins to fall. Swirling and whirling, gath­er­ing pace, gain­ing den­sity, it coats the world in white. It’s win­ter, some­where around the Cam­bridgeshire bor­der, on a mi­nor road near Fen­sport’s Chat­teris base. An ar­row of glim­mer­ing black crests the van­ish­ing point and rushes for­wards, a con­cen­trated cloud of speed and noise and all that is good.

Rac­ing closer, its form be­comes ever more tan­gi­ble and dis­tinc­tive. Soon, you can make out a pair of pop-up head­lights and a squat, low glasshouse, off­set by the jut­ting mouth of a ra­di­a­tor grille. It’s a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Toy­ota MR2, you’re pretty sure of that. Squint­ing and strain­ing, you make out vivid flashes of red, fraz­zling from the towhook and rollcage. A breath later, your sight is drawn to the sticky glim­mer of car­bon-fi­bre, rolling up the bon­net and over the rear wing.

Sound comes next: that hard-edged 3S-GTE gar­gle am­pli­fied by a three-inch cus­tom ex­haust. With ev­ery fran­tic up­shift, the sounds die away, re­placed by the triplechirrup of air es­cap­ing through the waste­gate and out of the screamer pipe. Then the bassy growl re­turns, al­ways over­laid by the whis­tle of a mas­sive Gar­rett GT3582R tur­bocharger, as the car surges for­wards through the snow. When is too fast, fast enough?

Not yet, any­way. The car sear­ing through the snow be­longs to Karl Hull and it’s half­way through a map­ping ses­sion. Adrian Smith, Fen­sport head-hon­cho, is be­hind the wheel, lap­top perched on the trans­mis­sion tun­nel. He launches hard, taps at the key­board, then launches hard again and again and again… ‘He was in his el­e­ment,’ Karl ex­plains, ‘and his ex­pres­sion never changed. Mine did though! We kept turn­ing the car up un­til we reached 1.8 bar of boost, which is more than enough in the

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