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4 January 2013


The names Keith Murray and Dialynx Performance are very well regarded in the Audi enthusiast scene, particularly in the UK. Indeed, for many years now, Keith has been reinforcing the reputation of the famous Audi tuning company with a whole series of spectacular personal project cars, and helping to publicize its wide range of services for aficionados of high-performance Audis.

Dialynx, of course, made its name on the back of a series of short-wheelbase ur quattros, similar to the Sport quattro. To date, Dialynx has completed more than 20 of these conversions, probably the most famous of all being Keith’s own example.

That silver car was built primarily for hillclimbs, but also competed successfully in sprints, and was a regular contender on the quarter-mile strip at the UK’s GTI International enthusiast show. With over 550 bhp, it was capable of accelerating from a standing start to 160 mph in 12 seconds, and at GTI International 2004 Keith posted a fastest quarter-mile time of 10.06 seconds, with a 0-60 time of 2.5 seconds, a record that stood for many years afterwards.

 

Keith then turned his hand to circuit racing with a 350 bhp A4 1.8T quattro, regularly winning races in the BRSCC Castle Combe Saloon Championship, by quite a large margin in most cases, until a change in the regulations allowed cars like the Mitsubishi Evo to compete in the same class, but with a huge advantage in power over the A4.

Then, for 2009, Keith built an A3 2.0 TFSI, for circuit racing again, but he just couldn’t get on with the very powerful (495 bhp) front-wheel-drive car after so many years with a quattro.

Which is where the story comes right up to date, with Keith’s current Series 2 80 quattro, a car inspired by a single picture of Audi’s newly refurbished 80 touring car from the 70s.

Having found a suitable two-door left-hand drive 80 quattro bodyshell in Germany, Keith started building the car in February 2011 and it was well under way by Easter, with plans to compete in hillclimbs that same year.

But the project was delayed somewhat when Keith was let down by the company building a set of dampers, and it is only this year that it has seen serious competition use. Even with the extra time available for the project, it’s still a wonder that it has been built to such a high standard of preparation and attention to detail. Keith just modestly says that he ‘had most of the bits laying around anyway, and so it just sort of took shape…’

To save weight in every possible area, the shell was first stripped bare and dipped in acid to remove all the old paint and underseal and to provide fresh clean steel to weld on. A carbon Kevlar hood, trunk lid and wheel arches, along with plastic doors also help keep  the weight down to a total of just 1808 lbs (820 kg). Custom Cages supplied a slimline roll cage, and the interior features only the bare essentials, with a lightweight Tillett racing seat, billet alloy gearshifter and just a set of basic dials for tachometer, water temperature and turbo boost. And those aren’t the actual headlights and indicators, but digital images scanned and copied onto plastic.

Keith planned to run the car in Class C (ii) which is for modified series production cars between 1400 cc and 2000 cc. It’s a category dominated by powerful lightweight front-wheel-drive cars, so not only did he have to save weight but he also needed sufficient power to be competitive, which inevitably means forced induction.

But there’s a multiplication factor for cars running with turbocharged engines, and a 1.8 or 2.0-liter with a turbo would have to run in a much higher class, against cars like the Ford Sierra Cosworth, various powerful Porsches, Vauxhall VX200s, Morgans and Mick Harriman’s Sport quattro! So Keith did some creative thinking and careful calculation and decided the answer was to downsize the engine, to a mere 1.4 liters…

Consequently, the engine is based on the JV series 4-cylinder 1.8-liter block, but sleeved down to 77 mm bore and fitted with forged Renault 5 GTT pistons. Together with a custom-built 76.5 mm stroke crank made by Farndon Engineering, this gives the engine a displacement of 1415 cc. With the turbo multiplying factor, that equates to a total working capacity of 1981 cc, which fits neatly just under the 2.0 liter class barrier.

With such a drop in displacement, the balance of power is made up by force-feeding, which means a big turbo – a Garrett GT30 mounted to a modified 5-cylinder tube-type manifold, while the inlet manifold is a modified 1.8T unit, fitted with the ‘fly-by-wire’ throttle body from a 2.7T B5 S4.

Sufficient fuel supply is provided by 1000 cc injectors, pressurized by two Porsche 911 Turbo fuel pumps feeding from a 15-liter fuel tank mounted in the trunk. Keeping the induction charge cool is an intercooler from a Sport quattro, while the water radiator is a standard Audi 80 unit.

But the secret to extracting maximum performance from any engine is a carefully mapped engine management system, in this case using a MoTeC M800 ECU with a bespoke wiring harness.

The resulting performance is hugely impressive, with initial dyno testing showing 430 bhp at 9000 rpm. Since then, though, Keith has raised the boost from 1.9 to 2.2 bar and increased the maximum engine speed to 10,000 rpm and so he reckons that it must now be at least 450 bhp. Remember that this is a car that weighs just over 1800 lbs., roughly the same as a Mk1 Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit.

The power is transmitted to all four wheels via full-race paddle-type clutch made by Helix Autosport, through a five-speed quattro gearbox with the center differential locked solid, and running an RS 4 rear differential. Inspecting the car up on the ramps it takes a keen eye to notice that the engine and gearbox are actually mounted slightly off-center, by 15 mm to the driver’s side, to provide a little extra clearance for the larger downpipe and exhaust system.

Specially made lightweight tubular front and rear subframes carry the weight of the engine and drivetrain and provide mounting points for the tubular wishbones, while the front upgrights and dampers are modified SEAT Cup units and the rears started life on the back of a Porsche Boxster before being modified to fit the 80 quattro rear end.

The springs are 2.5 x 10-inch units, rated at 550 lb. up front and 600 lb. at the rear, while the front dampers are Sachs Motorsport units and the rears are Koni Sport. Remember what Keith said about using parts he had lying around – well, the front anti-roll bar is a standard item from the current A3 and the rear is from an A5!

Using the Porsche rear legs also made the brakes easy to engineer – the rear discs and calipers are fairly standard Boxster parts, while the front brakes are 320 mm discs with Porsche 911 Cup calipers.

The rolling stock is completed by a set of 9 x 16-inch Azev alloy rims fitted with Avon slick tires, size 21.5 x 9.5 x 16, with the very soft and grippy A15 compound used for most hillclimb events. And there lies a story because, after initial testing on a very wet day at Curborough, Keith’s first event with the new car was the three-day Isle of Man Classic at the end of April.

This comprises one Sprint event and two hillclimbs, but requires the use of road-legal tires. Unable to find suitable tires in the right size, Keith sought and received prior approval to run cut slicks. That was until it proved to be by far the fastest car ther eon the first day, after which the organizers quickly changed their minds and stopped him from competing in the other two events! Needless to say, Keith is now quite keen to return again next year – on street legal tires – to prove that it’s the car and driver, not the tires, that are the superior factor.

Its second outing was the hillclimb at Loton Park. Keith hadn’t been there for six years, so had some catching up to do, but came away with the class win, before trying just a little too hard on the last run. He was running 1.5 seconds under the class record at the time, on target to break the record, but carrying too much speed up the main straight – which is not a straight at all – he hit the bank and bashed in the front right hand corner.

Soon repaired, third time out was at Shelsey Walsh, where Keith broke the 19-year –old record in practice, but couldn’t find quite enough grip in the wet and slippery conditions to take the official title on the timed Sunday runs.

Next time out, back at Loton, Keith broke the 4-year-old class record and got the win, before heading to Gurston Down on July 22, where he knocked 1.26 seconds off the old record, a very healthy margin when you consider that it’s only a 32-second run in total.

Clearly the highlight of Keith’s first year was with the 80 quattro, this achievement saw him presented with the new Tony Marsh Trophy. Awarded for the first time this year, along with a cash prize of 1000 British pounds, put up by the BARC (SW Centre), the club that organizes Gurston Down Speed Hillclimb, this is presented to the driver who beats a class record by the biggest margin.

Keith’s last run of the year was back at Shelsey Walsh, to try to crack the 19-year-old record again, but unfortunately the engine developed an ominous noise in the practice session so he packed up and went home, only to find the fault was just a slightly loose flywheel bolt, undoubtedly caused by the vibrations of running a 4-cylinder 1.4 at 10,000 rpm!

With the crankshaft off to be repaired when we met up for our photo shoot at the Dialynx workshops near Windon, Keith revealed that his next move is to upgrade to a 6-speed gearbox with a dog cluster, and add a fully smooth underbody panel to further improve the aerodynamics.

Incidentally, Keith clearly hasn’t lost his knack at drag racing either. At this year’s GTI International, despite cold and damp conditions on Saturday morning, he clocked a 10.57 ET in the 80 quattro on the first and only proper run on the quarter-mile track, before a gearbox problem prevented him from using a shot of nitrous to increase the power output even further. Instead, this year, Keith’s long-standing record ET fell to Andy Waite in his radically modified 20-valve turbo-engined all-wheel drive Mk1 Volkswagen Golf, which clocked a time of 9.91.

So, as well as seeking retribution in the Isle of Man, and defending his class titles in hillclimbs, we suspect that GTI International 2013 will see Keith and the 80 quattro seeking to reclaim that quarter-mile title too.

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