LMP for the rest of us – a closer look at the West racecars

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012In concept, there’s certainly nothing new about motorcycle engined racecars – for as long as people have been racing cars, home workshop types have been stuffing high revving motorcycle engines into them to great effect. But what separates the new generation of West racecars from the rest is just how effective they are. Mechanically speaking there’s nothing especially groundbreaking about a West and this is a case where the whole is definitely worth more than the sum of its parts. However it’s the careful design by extremely talented racecar engineers, and the gradual testing and refining of the concept that makes West’s as devastatingly quick as they are.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012So how quick are they? A properly sorted West will run around a 1.05/1.06 lap time around Mallala, which is pretty impressive considering the current F3 lap record is 1.06.4, and the V8 Supercar lap record is 1.08.1. That’s only 3-4 seconds slower than the¬†outright¬†lap record, 1.02.6 set by Paul Stokell in a Reynard Formula Holden.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012But the real kicker is the price – you can pick up a new West for under $100,000, with competitive used cars trading at around $50-80,000. That may sound like a lot for a motorbike engined car, but just compare its performance – you’d be lucky to get a 1.10 out of a Carrera Cup 911 for $150,000+. Paul Stokell’s Nations Cup Diablo GTR only managed a 1.08 back in the day, and god knows how much that would cost you. Essentially, you’re talking serious racecar speed for Lotus Exige money. You can live out all your Le Mans fantasies for about what a lot of people spend building a decent WRX.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012There are two models of West – the silver one above is known as the West WR1000, and is powered by either a 1000cc Suzuki or Kawasaki bike engine producing 175hp at 12,500rpm. The WR1000 weighs 395kg, and will get you from rest to 100km/h in 2.8 on the way to a top speed of 255km/h.

SCCSA Twilight race meeting, November 2012The model we’ll be taking a closer look at is the West WX10, which was driven at Mallala by multiple British F3 champion and former Indy car driver, James Winslow. The WX10 is powered by a 1340cc Suzuki Hayabusa K10 crate engine making 197hp at 10,800rpm. It’s slightly heavier at 403kg, but it will see 0-100 in 2.5 seconds and top out at 275km/h.

DSC_0331The true brilliance of the Hayabusa engine is its bang-for-buck reliability. Other than a West developed dry sump lubrication system and engine management, the Hayabusa engine keeps entirely stock internals, which means you’ll easily get two seasons of racing between rebuilds. Now the true value of the West is beginning to show. Continue reading