CarWale: Are all the Ameo Cup cars that we see here technically identical?
Sirish Vissa: Yes. In terms of the way the cars are built, I mean our 25 race cars (plus spare and taxi cars), they even have the seat-rails welded on to the passenger’s side as well. So they’re all universal. Let us not do anything special. And the other thing we need to make sure is that they all weigh about the same. So there’s no weight advantage of one car over another.
CarWale: How much has the rigidity gone up by after all these jobs?
Sirish Vissa: Rigidity is up by 30 per cent when compared to the road car. It might even be more.
CarWale: Is the gearbox already fixed to the engine assembly?
Sirish Vissa: Yes, it is what they term ‘dressing-up’ the engine, normally. This is when they fit the entire wiring harness, and put-in all of the plumbing too. The harness is actually the original harness from the engine, but with modifications. So we run a couple of different sensors in addition to what’s already on the normal engine. But other than that, most of it is off-the-road car. Now, the six-speed sequential gearbox is made by a French company called 3MO which, frankly speaking, anybody can buy off their website since it is a universal ‘box. There are set ratios available for this particular size of gearbox, where you can pick and choose what you want. However, the section where it connects to the engine (bell-housing), was designed by VW motorsport to match everything.
So, that’s one. The other thing that we did a lot of work on, was to get the output shafts done right. Just so that the stock drive shafts just bolt in. And honestly, when it is all put together, you’ll notice that we’ve had to grind a wee-bit off the corners to avoid it from touching the sides of the engine bay. It is, what could be termed, a tight fit!
CarWale: Are the paddle shifters hydraulically actuated?
Sirish Vissa: Actually they are electronic. The actuator unit is an electro-magnetic or massive solenoid which is placed where the gear lever is normally hooked up with the shaft.
CarWale: Are there any modifications done to the engine?
Sirish Vissa: So, in terms of the engine itself, it is bone stock. You know, it is really easy for us to keep it that way, and I’ll tell you why. Normally, on a given race weekend, we cover about 300-350km. And we have done around 12,000km (which is 5-6 seasons of racing) on the track without even an oil change, just to establish the reliability of the motor!
The good thing about being a part of the VW group is that we’ve got access to a fantastic part-bin, where we can pick and choose, and mix and match different stuff. Like for example, in terms of the Ameo Cup car’s radiator, it is actually the same radiator that goes into the Polo GTI and a couple of other VW Group cars. Since this is what we call a hot-weather radiator, it is the biggest size that’s available, and it works perfectly fine with us. As a matter of fact, this same radiator also works well when the motor is tuned-up for the drag-races.
CarWale: Can this motor deal with more power?
Sirish Vissa: If I go with a bigger turbo on this engine, I can go up to 300bhp without any problems. The bottom-end and the engine itself, can handle it. Between the 1.8-litre and the 2-litre motor, the block is essentially the same and so is the bore, but the stroke is different. Which means that the 2-litre has a different crank/connecting rods/pistons. This allows us to cook-up 350-400bhp without any fuss. So in theory, the bottom end on this engine can handle 400+bhp without any hassles.
CarWale: These wheels look fabulous. They must be super light, right?
Sirish Vissa: Yes. It has been a long journey. Originally, we sourced our alloy wheels from ATS in Germany. And until the time it was cast in Germany, it was brilliant. However, when the company decided to source its rims from their last supplier, they emerged heavier and not as strong. Well, they wouldn’t break, but would bend.
So we shifted from ATS to Team Dynamics (UK). This is again a cast-wheel, but it is really strong. And, we’re back to the kind of strength we used to have with the German ATS wheels. Going forward, we are also trying to work with Wheels India in developing a new rim, which seems to be working fine in the Turbo-Class currently. Basically, we’re testing it on the Turbo-Class to see if things work out, maybe before using it across all platforms.
We basically started off with a weight of 9kgs, and it is now down to 7kg with no compromise in strength. Since it is a forged wheel, the grain structure is automatically better and hence denser. And being denser makes it stronger, at least in theory. So, building on this theory, and since the wheel is now stronger, you can start reducing the weight. We started off at 9kg, after which it got trimmed to 8.5kg, and then on to 7.5kg before ending up at 7kg (current).
Pictures: Kapil Angane