This is the Bufori BMS R1, a FIA GT3 specification car brought together by the people at Axle Motorsport and Bufori’s Bufori Motor Sport (BMS) division in just 9 and a half weeks. Such a short notice is actually quite crazy to be able to do something like this. The big team above actually includes some ex-Formula 1 engineers so it was an excellent opportunity for locals to work together with real pros and hopefully gain some knowledge.
Why the rush, we asked. Axle boss Alex Yoong’s answer was simple – the Macau Grand Prix is probably the best place to showcase the car in action, so it was that or nothing. It’s the last race of the season, and the whole world will be watching this particular race because usually champions will be determined at a final race. It’s the best opportunity for the team and its car to get maximum international exposure and attention.
Apparently despite having our own F1 track, Malaysian motorsports isn’t thriving due to a lack of funds to go around so you really need to have a strong proposition to make before you can secure decent sponsorship for R&D and etc. They had something that needed to be proven and there’s really no better proof than action and results.
Bufori had actually already begun development of the Bufori CS before the decision was made to produce the R1 race car based on the CS road car. Before that, Bufori had also contacted Axle to talk about things. Bufori wanted a race program to get its name out there and to them Axle was probably one of the best people to manage their racing activities for them.
The race program will benefit the development of the CS road car in some ways other than promotion for the car. Some knowledge gained from racing will be able to be transferred to the road car development, especially in terms of making it handle better, etc. The car is left hand drive and is based built on a steel space frame with an aluminium honeycomb safety cell.
As for the engine, I got the answer I wanted at the media preview of the car – the Bufori CS and the R1 will use a turbocharged version of the 2.0 litre GEMA engine. The race car actually uses a GEMA engine supplied from Mitsubishi. It’s basically the 4B11T from the Lancer Evolution X, mounted longitudinally and mated to a 6-speed Quaife transmission driving the rear wheels. The engine is managed by a Motec ECU and Motec engineers were in Malaysia to help calibrate and configure the computers and sensors. We don’t know for sure how much power the engine is making now as the engine has never been dyno tested, but the engineers are estimating over 400 horsepower, which is plenty in a 900kg car.
The road car will use the same GEMA engines but supplied by Hyundai instead. This is a continuation of the engine supply contract Bufori currently has with Hyundai – the La Joya uses Hyundai’s 2.7 litre V6. In Hyundai terminology they are called Theta engines and the unit will probably be derived from the 2.0 litre turbo Theta engine installed in the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, driving the rear wheels as well.
There will of course be some other differences between the road car and the race car. For one, the race car’s aluminium honeycomb safety cell will probably not make it into the road car as it is too expensive. The engine will also be mounted further up front instead of being right in the middle and pretty much almost right next to the driver. But the carbon fiber and kevlar (vacuum packed method for the R1) composite body will be retained, as this is what Bufori uses to build all its cars.
Hopefully the car will do reasonably well at the Macau GP. I’m hoping for some good results but anything could happen given that this is pretty much a very untested car. Bufori and Axle claims the project is entirely self-funded but as you can see there are sponsor logos on the car. However judging by the sizes of the logos the money won’t be able to cover much.
UPDATE: Video added!
Look after the jump for more photos of the Bufori R1 race car.
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