AWD Turbo Parts and Performance

RRE- Rob Tallini – Las Vegas Motor Speedway 8/2001

 

We couldn’t resist the opportunity to run with NASA and the PRO Racing Series on the American Le Mans Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Unfortunately, August in Las Vegas means triple digit temperatures. We went for it anyway in our 1G FWD Mitsubishi Eclipse.

There were quite a few Porsches and BMWs in attendance as well as a variety of American muscle cars. Cars ranged from Porsche 996 and 993 ALMS cars to Southwest Tour Cars. We ran in the under 3.0 liter anything goes class.

Practice and Qualifying were quite the challenge due to the heat. Our driver Robert Tallini had never driven this track so he paid close attention to finding the fast way around the oval. We played with sway bars and tire pressures in order to optimize the temperature in our Toyo tires. We slowly dialed in suspension while at the same time, data logging engine vitals.

The 110+ temps in Vegas made dialing the engine in even more important than suspension. Qualifying went well and we had the pole in under 3.0 liter class (7th overall). Closest were a pair of BMW M3s. We were happy with that but Tallini knew there was more left in the car. We made a few more adjustments and prepped the car for the race.

Inside the 4th row the start proved to be a revelation. When the green flagged dropped, Tallini passed 3 cars into the first chicane. Typically we get good starts but we were amazed at the couple hundred thousand dollars worth of German hardware we passed. All race, three Porsches (a 996, 993 and a RS2) chomped at our heels.

Tallini said he spent more time looking backwards than forward. Every lap we thought we would get out powered down the straight. Not the case. Every lap we thought we would get out braked at the end of the straight. Never happened. For a half hour all eyes were on us. People couldn¹t believe a Mitsubishi could beat up all these purpose built race cars with double the horsepower and big slicks!

As the race wore on, Tallini kept us leading our class by 12-15 seconds and battled for the overall podium. Near the end of the race, tire temps soared and the car got harder and harder to drive. After a series of tight turns in the infield section our new German friends got within striking range and one struck. In the entry to the hairpin he got in under us and pushed Tallini out to the grass. With 2 wheels in the grass we lost the drive out of the corner and the Porsches slipped by.

Fortunately, a couple of DNFs in front of us allowed us to finish 4th overall and of course we won our class by 14 seconds. Tire wheel temps were so hot that the valve stem caps were melted to the valve stems. We were pretty stoked afterwards and more than a couple of German car owners actually came up to shake hands. They were impressed with our Mitsubishi Eclipse and perhaps a bit embarrassed by us.

The Crew

Left to right: new mechanics @ RRE Christian and Bobby, Driver Rob Tallini and honda Robert

 

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