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Providing up to 44psi of boost is a pair of Le Mans-style turbochargers from Honeywell Garrett. They lead into a Banks-designed log-style manifold dubbed “Big Hoss.” The fuel system is based on a Bosch common-rail setup and uses a Bosch EDC16 engine-control unit. Early testing saw favorable results using the stock injectors and fuel pump. But Banks is working with different spray patterns and line pressures, so advanced injectors and a larger fuel pump are available.
The goal is 650 to 700 horsepower with 800 to 900 lb-ft of torque. More torque could be dialed in yet the team has to make the drivetrain live. Early setups included a Tex Racing 4-speed transmission but there may be a switch to a new G-Force 5-speed. The rear end is a Speedway Engineering Track-Nine NASCAR-style housing with full-floating hubs and a Detroit Locker.
The chassis is built with mild steel and chrome-moly tubing. Rules don’t restrict engine placement, so the Duramax was located 18 inches back and 16 inches lower than stock to achieve a 50/50 balance. Total weight is 3200 pounds.
Driver Don Alexander (Sheldon Tacket is the crew chief) is also a suspension specialist and designed the front and rear geometry.
Front A-arms and spindles were fabricated at Banks and mounted along with Koni shocks and Eibach springs, which control the rear 3-link. Massive 13-inch Wilwood brakes are found at all four corners. The body is a combination of stock sheetmetal, fabricated panels and custom composite components. The front fascia is designed to improve aerodynamic flow and provide an air intake to the turbochargers. The sidepods feature vents to relieve heat under the hood and also scoops to cool the rear brakes.
Alexander says the chassis is designed to play off the strengths of the diesel’s torque but that the overall package has to be drivable. Fuel economy is also important. The Banks team wants to take advantage of the lighter diesel fuel consumption to log more laps before time-consuming pit stops. Also, the engineers can’t just pour fuel into the cylinders at will. Black smoke will lead to a black flag from race officials. With that in mind, the team is experimenting with particulate traps.
Banks truly believes that diesels are the performance engines of the future. There are indications he may be right. Diesel powered road racers have been rare but attention to them are growing. The Taurus Sports team entered a Lola powered by a 5.0-liter VW V10 engine in the 2004 Le Mans race but suffered driveline problems. Peugeot is also setting its sights on Le Mans with a diesel-powered prototype. Continuing research and development on the race track level can’t help but improve diesel engines on the street.
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