Our Mk7 GTI again proves to be an ideal dual-duty car

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Update by Chris Tropea to the Volkswagen Golf GTI project car
Feb 21, 2024 | Autocross, VW, GTI, Mk7 GTI

After a flawless outing for its first autocross event last year, we took our Mk7 GTI back out, this time for a Martin Sports Car Club event at the Orange County Convention Center. Other than an 80% chance of rain forecasted for the day, we were looking forward to running the car in Street Touring H with a new set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS tires.

[200-treadwear tire test | Bridgestone Potenza RE-71RS vs. Falken Azenis RT660]

We set out early to make sure we got to the site right at 7:00 a.m. With the heated seats on and a podcast playing through Apple CarPlay, the hour-long drive flew by since there was no traffic on I-4.

When we arrived, we were happy to see that the track was dry, and, since we were in the first heat, we hoped the rain would hold off long enough that we could get at least one run in the dry. However, as soon as the drivers meeting finished, the clouds opened up. It continued raining for the rest of the day, though the GTI performed well in the wet thanks to those new Bridgestone tires.

One unfortunate side effect of the weather is that because so much rain was in the forecast, a lot of other entries canceled. This left us as the only ones in our class, so we didn’t have any other times to compare to. But, as a bonus, that means we got first place by default, right?

Unlike the last time we brought the car out to race, we did have a problem after our second run. While pulling into our spot in grid the car threw a check engine light, so we pulled out and headed back to the paddock to investigate the cause.

Lucky for us, a fellow competitor had a code reader and was able to help us figure out the problem: A PO300, a random/multiple cylinder misfire. We will dive into finding out what caused that fault before our next event, but we suspect dirty intake valves are the culprit. We also plan on adding a code reader to our bag to bring with us to every event.

After the codes were cleared, we still had time to jump back in the grid for the rest of our runs. We pushed the car–not to its performance limit but to our driving capabilities–and got faster each lap until we hit a cone on our final run leaving our third run as the fastest of the day.

Overall, we placed 42nd overall and 34th in PAX out of 92 cars. So, what is the plan now?

The next event on our calendar is in a few weeks, so we will get the car into the shop, diagnose what caused the check engine light and make sure it is ready to go.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/21/24 11:35 a.m.

Nothing says autocross umbrella like one that’s tweaked like that. 

Chris Tropea
Chris Tropea Associate Editor
2/21/24 11:59 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I am extremely happy I remembered to pack an umbrella, but no sun so I didn't have to bring my big straw hat. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/23/24 8:28 a.m.

I need to work on getting one of those big straw hats. 

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