Ever wondered what it takes to pilot the quickest VR6-powered FWD race car? We caught up the Ricardo Tolay to find out.
By Joel Batty Silva
“We need to go see that Golf,” chirped Annie, sauntering towards a white Mk3 that had just run an 8-second pass down Maryland’s hallowed strip. I suggested we look at another Honda but the phrase “happy wife happy life” made me stop to admire the behemoth of Ricardo Tolay’s VR motor.
Ricardo is a 39-year old mechanic from a sleepy town of Hackensack, New Jersey. “As far as I know, I’m still the quickest and fastest front wheel drive VR6 in the world. I’m planning to break the record again this autumn,” says Ricardo, who is Peruvian by birth and only relocated to the USA when he was 16. Currently his record time and speed stands at 8.448s and 290km/h.
For this, he thanks the genius Bill Schimmel of SP Performance who did most of the engine work. “I’m extremely lucky to have Bill on my side – he is one of few people I can say is a true friend of mine.” The bottom-end features 83mm 10:1 off-the-shelf pistons with Schimmel conrods, ARP hardware, a solid lifter cylinder head with 288-degree cams, Schimmel Performance adjustable sprockets and mechanical chain tensioner. The centre feed intake manifold is a special CNC piece (built by DNA Performance) that is attached to a 90mm Ross throttle body.
“Blowing the head gasket was always been a problem but we’ve overcome that issue. The tricky part is trying to get the engine to flow some air but we’re still working on it – we ran our best time with a stock port/stock sized valve and an intake made by myself almost seven years ago.”
Ricardo’s love affair began in 2001 when he was looking at buying an Integra Type-R. A good friend of his (who worked at the Honda dealership) had a 1998 GTi VR6 and needed to sell it. “He took me around and I fell in love with the rumble of the VR6 engine, not to mention the roar!” I guess fate has a funny way of intervening – if the GTi never had the VR6 motor, would Ricardo be racing a Honda?
The power figures are healthy! On the dyno, it makes 1057hp at 44psi. On the battlefield, the Voora is tuned to eat the track on 47-48psi whilst drinking Ignite Red fuel. Ricardo uses Lugtronic engine management system and the tune/track set-up is overseen by tuner Kevin Black.
“Because World Cup finals is the best event to break records, we basically prep the whole year. We collect all the data and make the necessary adjustments to be very competitive but more importantly, to break our own records – if you want go fast, World Cup finals is the place to do it at.”
The lightened German hatch weighs in the region of 1020kg, and the tiny 13” slicks will surprise many South Africans who love going two sizes bigger with most of their turbo application. “Yes we run a 13 x 10 wheel with 24.5 x 9” slicks. It’s always a battle to make sure we put as much power down without spinning the tyres but Kevin does a great job controlling it.”
Ricardo wants the car to run a consistent 8.25, and has a CNC cylinder head in the making – I reckon it won’t be long before he achieves the target. If you’re keen to follow Ricardo and the VR6 this year, give him a follow on social media. In ending, he thanks his wife, daughter and parents for being such awesome cheerleaders, his brother Alejandro from DNA Performance, Bill for making sure the engines take all the beatings, Kevin for being at the track and making the necessary adjustments to go quicker, Mike Pauciullo from Sb Parts Direct, Ibai Lopez from allbusinessfab, and to Jr Beach aka “jrrs”.