Phase two of the race prep began with a startling brake upgrade. Those are Porsche Turbo binders you see when the giant three-piece wheels are removed up front, sporting radial-mount, four-piston aluminum calipers and 13x1.3-inch rotors. Of course, these components are far from bolt-on, and Andy Pearson at Specialty Engineering modified the spindles and fabbed full-floating aluminum hats to make it all come together. But why use Porsche brakes when other upgrades might have been easier to install? It seems the Porsche components are surprisingly affordable-at least in Canada-and if you have Andy's expertise, why not?
Once the front brake modifications were made, attention was turned to the rear, where the formerly front Brembo calipers and 13-inch rotors resided during our shoot. That changed in the intervening months, as Tim explained he has achieved better balance by running two-piston PBRs. Specialty Engineering finished the whole thing off by installing a Tilton pedal assembly, a Tilton brake-bias adjuster, and dual master cylinders.
The 5.4 '00 R engine is always...
The 5.4 '00 R engine is always a sight to behold. Rated at 385 hp from Ford, Tim believes it now pushes about 50 more thanks to a custom computer processor from SVT and an '01 Lightning mass air. At our shoot in late 2002, the SVT-spec engine had proven up to the task so far, though Tim expressed concern should he damage the unavailable and unique R-model cylinder heads. He was eagerly looking forward to the new Ford GT engine program, which should fill the pipeline with good parts for the 330-cuber. Just before going to press, however, Tim told us that Ford Australia is introducing a new Falcon known as the FPV GT. This hot new four-door sports a modular 5.4 DOHC engine replete with "improved" Cobra R cylinder heads-and we thought Mercury's new Marauder was a neat piece! If Tim has need for replacement heads anytime soon, it appears his source could be Down Under. Check out the FPV GT at www.fordperformancevehicles.com.au/.
Another addition in the name of longevity came in the form of a trans-mission oil cooler, which, as does the diff cooler, receives cooling air from a quarter-window scoop and circulation via a Tilton pump. More attention was paid to the suspension as well, with major changes coming from a combination of predominately Kenny Brown components. Up front, the company's tubular K-member and control arms are used with Koni double-adjustable struts and Eibach coilover springs. In the rear, Kenny Brown modified the stock IRS subframe with revised pickup points, while KB lower and custom upper control arms, Koni double-adjustable shocks, and Eibach coilovers complete the arrangement. True to form, Andy revised some of the control arms for full race use, with the same story for the front and rear sway bars.
Tim's pair of R-models are...
Tim's pair of R-models are two of just five of the rare '00s to be allocated to Canadian Ford dealers. Because of the low number of imports, the Rs weren't equipped with such Canadian requirements as daytime running lights and a speedometer/odometer that reads in kilometers. As such, the Rs are technically illegal for use on Canadian public roads, as stated by this unusual sticker.
With the second round of prep complete, Tim and his support team were ready for another go at competition. An eight-hour race at Portland International Raceway was encouraging, as the car made it through seven hours of pounding before a suspension component broke with the car running in the top 10. With more experience and more sorting, the best finish to date is an '02 International Conference of Sports Car Clubs (ICSCC) event in Portland, Oregon, when the R qualified on the front row for separate SPO and GT1 races. That flash of brilliance proved more than momentary, as the race results were a Second in SPO for Tim and a First in GT1 for co-driver Tony Morris Jr.-promising performance indeed!
Winter's off-season will have given Tim and company some time to review their efforts so far and ready the '00 for another go-none of which would happen without the dedicated crew of Don MacLean, Chris Shorman, and Geoff Holmes. Wish lists for upgrading a race car never seem to end, and in this case they include still bigger binders from Baer/Alcon, custom long-tube headers, and an engine freshening that will bump the compression ratio at a minimum-and possibly include some head and camshaft massaging.
Whether all the goals will be achieved before race season remains to be seen, but it would appear the guys are on the right track. A full race schedule probably isn't in the cards due to the more developed nature of Tim's Probe, but the plan is for Northwest sports car racing to be well aware of what Ford's factory special is all about. It seems only fitting it be that way, for it's not particularly remarkable when marque devotees slather the R-model with respect. What's far more meaningful is that the opposition has reason to know the Cobra R even exists!