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July 8, 2018

Care to Race a Pick-Up Truck?

You just gotta love the Australians. When they’re not transforming basketball into boxing, they’re racing pick-up trucks. And we’re not talking about off-road racing or rallycross mind you; it’s circuit racing and they call it: SuperUtes.

With 18 percent of Australia’s overall vehicle sales made up of pick-ups, it makes total sense that they’ll find a way to race these workhorses (race on Sunday, sell on Monday and all that). True enough, the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton (our Strada), Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, and Holden (our Chevrolet) Colorado all race in SuperUtes.

Unlike more popular racing series such as NASCAR, Super GT, or even DTM which uses purpose-built racing cars made to look like their production counterparts, SuperUtes are pretty much the same trucks you get from the showroom floor with some special modifications.

They use the production turbodiesel engine cranked up to a standard 340 horsepower and 678 Nm of torque monitored using a Motec ECU. Then, these engines are mated to a control gearbox with standard ratios and rear axle assembly. Other control components include the roll cage, brakes, tires, wheels, springs and dampers.

Designed to replace the V8 Ute Racing Series (which died down with the demise of the Holden Commodore Ute and Ford Falcon Ute), the Supercars Championship—the group behind SuperUtes says that carmakers are already reaping the benefits of racing in the series.

In a release, they said:
It provided an ideal test bed for innovations that will benefit the global automotive landscape; a case in point is the Motec-developed diesel engine control unit (ECU). 
While diesel engines are not new in motorsport – having been used in the likes of the World Endurance Championship and Dakar Rally – the bespoke ECUs for those vehicles have generally been highly-specialized and prohibitively-expensive for everyday customers. 
Australian engine management and data acquisition system manufacturer Motec saw an opportunity to create a product to enable easier and more cost-effective performance tuning of diesel engines.
With diesels being a lot more complicated to tune compared to their gasoline counterparts, SuperUtes said that Motec was able to make a commercially-available ECU that can “talk” with the other ECUs in the various vehicles participating in the series.

ECB SuperUtes Approved Control Specifications:
  • Diesel Engine Evaluation
  • Motec ECU with Supercars Engine Parity Program
  • Motec Dash Color Display/Data Logger
  • Exhaust (OE Manifold)
  • Suspension – Front and Rear SupaShock Shock Absorbers and Springs
  • Brakes – Brembo 6-piston front and 4-piston rear
  • Tilton Pedal Box with Master Cylinders Incorporating Brake Bias Adjustments
  • Xtreme Outback 230-mm Twin Plate Ceramic Clutch
  • Control Gearbox and Ratios
  • Control Differentials and Ratios
  • Control Tires
  • 20-inch Control Wheels
  • Control Specification Roll Cage (CAMS Approved)

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