Feature: SVA Imports TA Evo

I can always explain why I like a particular car by naming just one thing. It can be an amazing paintjob, a nice stance or some cool parts. This car attracted my attention for the first time on Automaxx Streetpower. I saw it before, driving around tracks at insane speeds, but this time it was standing on the paddock without the bonnet so I could see that gorgeous ceramic-coated exhaust manifold.

When I walked around the car I noticed a few features no other car in the Dutch Time Attack competition has. Unfortunately the crew was nowhere to be found, so I continued to a spot near the track and shot some pictures of the car when it raced past me. But when I heard SVA Imports would bring this Evo to Holland to test their car at the track in Zandvoort I immediately jumped at the opportunity and contacted them. I originally intended to shoot a traditional car feature, but as I told before in my first article here at the Wangan Warriors blog I also like the human side of our hobby so I decided to include the SVA team as well.

I arrived early in the morning, at 08:30, and the team was just giving the car a final check-up. I introduced myself, talked a bit and after shooting some overview pictures I focussed on the rear of the car. It’s quite different from the back of the race cars you normally see here in The Netherlands, with the most striking difference being the rear-mounted radiator. There are two NACA ducts at the carbon fibre roof of the car with large hoses to the radiator. Two big 40 ampere fans suck the air through the radiator with such force SVA had to install a thermostat in the cooling system because the engine wasn’t reaching its normal operating temperature.

Beneath the left taillight they mounted the connector for the air jacks. I wasn’t sure air jacks would be very handy on a time attack car, but now I know better. No more fooling around with jack stands and jacks, just attach an airhose and the car will lift itself.

The interior is, at first glance, the same as any other race car. No insulation, no carpet, flocked dash but I still noticed some differences and odd things. First, there’s a start button on the console mounted behind the two seats but the orginal ignition key is still present. When I asked Raef Davis of SVA about it he asked me one simple question, “do you remember the Japspeed Impreza?” Japspeed competes in the British Drift Championship with a Subaru Impreza and that car was stolen last year. So, the ignition key was still present to deter thieves. It’s just a bit harder to steal a car without the keys.

The car is packed with electric gadgets, like this datalogger and an in-car camera system. Most of the boring stuff is automated so the driver can focus on racing instead of watching gauges and pushing buttons. For example, the ECU stops the engine when the oil pressure drops to less than 0.5 bar for more than half a second. The rear and center differential are also controlled by a Motec system with different maps for wet tracks, dry tracks, etc.

The powertrain is really something to drool over. A 2.4 litre 4G63 with a big turbo, dry sump oil system with two oil coolers, sequential gearbox, a limited slip differential from Carbonetics at the rear and countless other goodies. The result? 650 Horsepower at the wheels, at 2.3 bar.

But, it’s more than the car. Over the day I watched the SVA team work their magic, I talked to the team members and it struck me that they are very proud of what they do. The list of the parts on the car that they made in-house is endless. The dash? Made by SVA Imports. The NACA ducts on the roof? Made by SVA Imports. And the list goes on and on.

And the whole operation runs quite smooth. Time for lunch? Well, bring out the barbecue! It is still a mystery to me how they managed to take all the flammable stuff like the gas for the barbecue and the fuel for the car with them on the ferry from Dover to Dunkirk. It’s certainly not allowed by the safety regulations on the ferries! By the way, their barbecue skills are quite good.

When I wrote that they fabricate a lot of stuff in-house I didn’t mean they make everything in their office in Dover. The SVA Imports van is packed with everything they need at a race, like spare parts, lots of tools and ofcourse meat for the barbecue. When the car got black flagged for the second time for exceeding the noise limit they adapted a silencer to fit in the screamer pipe. And it worked, the noise dropped below the limit of 93 dB..

But being parked on the paddock on the air jacks without wheels and a bonnet is not the natural habitat of a race car. So as soon as possible Neil, the driver, took it back to the track to find the best braking points with the new wheel alignment and to improve his lap times. Another Time Attack driver, the Dutchman Evert Thomas who drives the famous Audi S2, was there to help him.

Although the test took place during a track day event the other drivers brought some serious track tools with them so Neil didn’t have to worry about slow cars on the track. The other cars, mostly Porsches and Ferraris, were also pushed to their limits so I had a lot of fun standing next to the track and watching all these amazing cars.

I had to leave a bit early but later I saw on Evert’s Facebook that they lapped Zandvoort in 1:58 on semi slicks, a few seconds faster than Neil’s previous lap record. Something he was obviously quite happy with. With full slicks he should be one or two seconds faster so I can’t wait to see what his time will be at the last round of the 2012 Dutch Time Attack season on september 16!

– Alex Kamsteeg

Photos by Alex Kamsteeg