Thursday, Mar 21 05:20pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

LS7-powered Audi A5 set to shake up endurance series

This year’s Class 1 field in the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series looks likely to be one of the best in recent years for the Three Hour Series.


Dave Dovey and son Matt Dovey are set to debut a newly built DTM-inspired LS7-powered 2009 Audi A5 Quattro this season. An ill-timed holiday for Dave means he’ll miss the first round, but he’s excited to get the car on track for the second round at Pukekohe Park in early May.


Dovey has been a regular in the endurance racing scene for many years and is Vice Chairman for the series. In years past he’s run a highly modified Ford Falcon BF TL that used to run in the BNT V8s. Dovey’s desire for an Audi was so high that he even re-badged the Ford with the four ceiling rings.


He contemplated buying a V8 SuperTourer, which would put him in the GT-B division for spaceframe chassis race cars. However, the opportunity to rebuild and modify an Audi A5 meant he could be competitive within the Class 1 field (solely for 3.5 litre and over race cars).


“I love Audi, I’m a big fan and have always wanted one,” Dovey told velocitynews.co.nz.


“I wanted one that was really unique to the New Zealand market. I could have got a V8 SuperTourer and a whole bunch of fibreglass panels and created an Audi that way, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted a home-built car.


“I didn’t want to use Audi running gear either because it is stupendously expensive. We bought a hail damaged car out of Queensland, stripped it, and basically rebuilt it.”


Aesthetically the car features extensive bodywork modifications. The wheel arches have been widened to fit bigger, wider wheels and tyres. A front splitter was taken from an Erebus Motorsport Holden Commodore, cut in half, then widened to fit the front of the Audi. Once complete, the car will be roughly 150mm wider than a Supercar.


The internals of the car are similar to those seen in the V8 SuperTourers and TLX. The LS7 engine is coupled to a six-speed Hollinger sequential gearbox. The car also has a live rear axle and a 9.0 inch differential. AP Brakes and Penske shock absorbers keep the wide tyres to the ground too.


Part of the desire to run the turn-key LS7 was its proven reliability, something that needed to be considered for the longer three-hour races.


“MAST Motorsport in Texas make a range of LS7 engines. We bought it for reliability and for good torque off the corners.”


Dovey said he’s buoyed by the car’s prospects. The team want to be as competitive as possible and up there with some of the GT-B cars. But the growing Class 1 field does present a challenge for them. A new Audi TT RS VLN will join the series this year and Mortimer Motorsport are expected to field a new yet-to-be-revealed BMW.


“The trouble is the field is growing so quickly,” he saud.


“This year Class 1 is so competitive now, there are so many more cars there, how would you know who could win?


“There’s a whole bunch of home-built cars and purpose-built cars. We’re hoping that it’ll be slightly lighter than a V8 SuperTourer but have more horsepower, more grunt and more aero.”


There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to get the car ready, but it will be ready for the second round.


“It’ll look a lot like a DTM car. I love V8s, I don’t usually like turbo-charged fours or sixes, or anything like that. I love the sound of it.


“It’s been a huge build. Everything in it has had to be custom built, just don’t tell my wife how much it cost.”