What does it take to build a 354kW Polo that runs an 11 second quarter mile?
It takes time, passion, and believe it or not…a DIESEL!

By Chad Miller

Let’s face it; drag racing is getting fancy! Go to a track on race day and you’ll find exotic imported motors running equally exotic performance parts, all sipping fuels which are concocted using chemicals that could turn your local tuner into a character on Breaking Bad!

All of this is done to give racers that extra edge; nothing wrong with that, but then you get racers like Renato Sacchetti. He’s gone a little mad and bucked the trend by going diesel! A decision that has seen him achieve a record 11.42 second quarter mile at 199km/h at Tuner Wars 2 at Tarlton, making this car the fastest FWD 4-cylinder diesel in Africa!

Renato’s TDI journey started back in 2017 when his wife “agreed” to let him tune her 2006 Polo TDI. This first step saw the car receive a few hardware upgrades, a Water/Meth kit and a software tune which yielded a mild 145kW. From there, the car motor received a host of upgrades and in June 2018, Renato decided to test everything at Tuner Wars. This was a baptism of fire for the Polo and its latest setup, but after running a 12.1 sec ¼ mile, a piston decided to call it a day thanks to a nitrous backfire.

This little mishap was a blessing in disguise for Renato because it made his wife gatvol enough to say just do it properly, and properly was exactly what he went for! For starters, the motor had to be rebuilt thanks to that piston, and Renato fitted a new set of OEM pistons but with Rosten H-Beam rods. On top of the motor, the valves were ported and flowed before the custom intake was fitted.

Then came the fun part; picking a turbo and in this case, the weapon of choice is a Garrett GTB22SR bolted to a custom tubular manifold. Now for most people, a GTB22SR should make them happy, but not Renato. He decided that a NX nitrous kit was “needed” and so he installed a two-stage kit delivering 20hp on the first shot and 50hp on the second. Once the diesel and nitrous do their thing, all the gasses are expelled though a chimney-style exhaust that pokes through the bonnet and may just attract Santa Clause come Christmas time.

Apart from the hardware, the real brains of this operation is the OEM ECU which has been treated to a custom map courtesy of Tyron at SR Tuned. So, now you must be thinking how much power could an 8v diesel motor make? Well, how does 306kW with 704nm WITHOUT Nitrous sound? Impressive as that is, when Renato hits that button on the steering wheel, those figures jump to 354kW and 783Nm of torque!

Now that Renato had the power, he needed to get it onto the wheels. This job was handed over to the OEM 6-speed gearbox which has been treated to a 4H shifter kit, a 4th gear support and a Quaife LSD. The Quaife LSD together with the Maxtrac coilovers are the perfect combination when it comes to getting maximum traction off the line, a feat which is made even easier when Renato swaps his road going 17” TSW Evo-R wheels for a set of sticky 15” drag radials! Hidden behind those drag radials are the OEM brakes which have been given a set of EBC Green Stuff pads; so yes, that’s 199km/h on the quarter mile!

On the outside, the car looks stock sans the drilled-out bumper and bonnet cut-outs; but take a closer look and you’ll notice that the windows have been replaced with a set of Templar Performance lightweight Lexan pieces.
These windows almost look stock and to the untrained eye, you would never notice them. Looking through them though, it would be hard not to notice that the interior has been stripped out completely. The stock seats and carpeting have been chucked in favour of a single Sabelt racing seat while at the back a half-cage was fitted for added safety.

That seat, the half-cage, the lightweight windows, the dedication to the motor, and everything that Renato has done to this car exudes passion; and when you look at what he has achieved this far, I can’t wait to see what Renato has planned for this Polo’s future!


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