Sand, Camels, Turbos and 8 Second GTR’s – A Tuner’s Guide to Dubai

Recently I had the chance to head to Dubai for a week and run some dealer training for Vipec. Dubai has always been on my ‘to-do’ list so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. From this side of the world we hear stories of unlimited budgets, gold plated Bentleys and a Ferrari at every set of lights. The stories aren’t far from the truth and Dubai is certainly an eye opener!


We were based out of Sub Zero Motorsport who have the reputation for building some of the fastest and most powerful cars in the UAE. They have a massive workshop employing around 40 staff, with three dynos (including a dedicated bike dyno), a fully equipped engine machine shop and a parts store that would rival the likes of Jegs or Summit.

Sub Zero's bike dyno

Sub Zero’s bike dyno

CP pistons. Sub Zero has them!

CP pistons. Sub Zero has them!










The first thing that struck me was the number of R35 GTRs everywhere. On just one day, I counted 8 in the shop. I literally saw more R35 GTRs in a single week than we would see in a year back in NZ. That’s only half of it though. They were all packing at least 800 whp, built engines, upgraded turbos, upgraded transmissions and all the other bits associated with getting an R35 to be reliable at these sort of power levels.


Rashid’s personal R35 – 800 whp on pump gas and capble of mid 9′s with the aircon cranking.

Rashid, Sub Zero’s owner took us for a spin in his own 800 whp GTR to show what it was capable of. The car runs a 4.1 litre stroker engine, Sub Zero’s own Precision Turbo kit and tuning is handled with a COBB Access Port. On the road you wouldn’t know the car was modified. It is perfectly smooth and responsive – Even the AC works (which is kinda handy when the ambient temp can exceed 50 degrees C!).


The only give away is the slight whine from a straight cut first gear. Put your foot down though and the car forces your organs into your spinal cord. The acceleration is brutal, and the dual clutch transmission provides seamless power through the gearshifts. It really is a triumph of technology. At this power level, Sub Zero have carded 9.5 second passes at the strip. Tip in some race fuel though and the car will make 1200 whp and run into the high 8′s. Plus you can drive to and from the strip!


While GTR’s are big business in Dubai, some of the Arabs prefer a more practical ride in the form of Toyota’s Landcruiser or Nissan’s Patrol. Now neither of these were ever destined to be a performance car, but that is nothing a bunch of cash can’t fix. Take for example this Landcruiser we spied. From the outside it gives nothing away, but its fitted with a fully race prepped 1FZ-FE engine and a massive Precision 8285 turbo.


On pump gas it punches out a healthy 920 whp at 1.7 bar, but on C16 it makes an insane 1280 whp at 2.5 bar! For an idea of what these guys get up to in their down time, check this video of a Nissan Patrol dusting a Lambo (we didn’t shoot it so excuse the quality, but its too good not to share).

When you are surrounded by sand and you have a passion for massive power, it makes sense to combine the two – yup, sand drags are big business in the Middle East! Sub Zero are known for building some of the fastest sand drag cars in the Middle East and their own   Landcruiser shows why.


A race-rprepped 1FZ-FE 4.5 litre straight 6 engine with a massive 105 mm Garrett turbocharger is the basis of the build. Up to 70 psi boost is enough to lay down in excess of 1700 whp. The entire package is controlled by a Vipec v88 ECU.











It’s no surprise that with these engines making so much power, failures are common. This is probably one of the attractions of the sport and one of the reasons it’s so popular – There is never a shortage of action. Or carnage. Check out the body work of Sub Zero’s Nissan Patrol sporting a hole from where a conrod exited the block!

To see the car in action, here is a short clip of Sub Zero’s Landcruiser winning the 2014 Liwa Hillclimb, despite blowing the head gasket on the start line. Credit to Bjp Race for the video. Subscribe to his channel for more insane action from Dubai.


There is more to any trip than just the cars though and we had a little time to look around Dubai. One thing you won’t find is alcohol, with the UAE being predominantly alcohol-free.

It’s a weird experience not being able to order a beer at a restaurant, but if you really do need to quench your thirst, alcohol is served at hotels.

This is a selection of the non-alcoholic beers available at a local service station. Extensive but none of them will have you lose your licence!


While Dubai is in the middle of the desert, you will also find the world’s largest indoor ski field, built right inside the Mall of the Emirates – which coincidentally was across the road from our hotel.


Dubai is very westernised now and the selection of food available is pretty wide and varied. While traditional Middle Eastern food is always on offer, we felt right at home seeing NZ’s very own ‘Burger Fuel’ chain. If you prefer, the US ‘Shake Shack’ is another easy option that is sure to pack on some pounds.

IMG_2960We also took in a little sight seeing including a compulsory visit to the Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest building. You can take a ride to the top of this for about $40 NZD but my suggestion is don’t try it at 6 pm on a Friday night – The wait time was estimated at 3 hrs!


All good things come to an end though, and it was finally time to board the Emirates A380 and head back home. If you get the chance, Dubai is highly recommended. It is a very safe and friendly place to visit with plenty to see and do. If you love cars, its even better, but the shopping should also keep your other half occupied for a while too!

Thanks to Sub Zero for looking after us on our stay. You can check out what they do here.



STM/Racetech Customer Track Day

The 24th of May saw us finally get back to Manfield Autocourse for another one of our, always popular, customer track days. This time we were joined by the team from Racetech who have jumped on board to lend a hand at the BBQ and also to extend the invitation to their customers to join in the fun.

Seeing that safety is always a priority at the track it was great to have Greg along to give advice on the various safety items they supply.


 Our Project 86 has been through some reasonably drastic changes of late however this track day was an opportunity to show off it’s new livery aptly named “Citrus Blast”. With only limited time on the track since the turbo kit was installed it was good to get out and test the new Nitto NT01 track tyres.


Because of the way Playday on Track run their days you find a wide variety of vehicles from your general street car right through to your full blown race car. A perfect example of this was when late comer James turned up to get a few practise laps in with his NZV8 race car. With a damp track for most of the day the James made for some great viewing. He wrestled to keep this beast in a straight line and on the black stuff.


To ensure James was is some good company Fraser also turned up to get in a few laps his race spec Honda NSX. Even though Fraser completed what could be called the first stage of his build some time ago it has still been slowly evolving. This time out they were trialling a new rear bumper which has shaved approximately 20 kgs out of what was already a very light car.


On the flip side of the spectrum we also saw a few of STM’s customers with their street cars out for a good time. Peter came along with his STM tuned Falcon ute to take it through it’s paces.


And Matty turned up to show that his super clean Integra Type R was not only for show!


So if you have either a competition spec horsepower-monster or your own quick daily driver we highly recommend coming along to our next event to give it a go. Hey we’ll even cook you lunch!!


#Project86 – Nobody has ever accused Toyota’s 86 of being fast

Nobody has ever accused Toyota’s 86 of being fast. Fun, yes, but definitely not fast.

So far all our development over the last 12 months has focussed on improving handling, grip and braking and this has really paid off with a car that is now on rails. Finally though the time had come to increase the power to match the grip and there was only one way we wanted to do it – Fit a turbocharger!

The 86 market is now flooded with turbo kit options which makes choosing a suitable kit difficult. After months of deliberating, we choose to go with the AVO turbo kit out of Australia. For me, this kit ticked one of my major boxes because the low-mount design gives an almost stock appearance to the engine bay. The turbo location also meant that heat was going to be less of an issue and all of the weight is kept low in the engine bay.
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The AVO kit includes every component needed and the full colour instructions are very thorough. Installation still wasn’t a total breeze as fitment is tight in such a cramped engine bay. I had also taken the opportunity to fit a custom breather system with our own catch can to address the added crank case pressure from the turbo.
We hit the dyno on Friday night and at this point we were still running on our Motec M150 ECU. Optimising the tune was quick and easy and I was impressed when the dyno displayed 188 kW at the rear wheels. To put it in perspective, the car made 114 kW at the wheels in stock form which means we are now up around 242 kW at the engine (stock is 147).
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Power is great, but it was the delivery we were more interested in. The perfectly sized turbo in the AVO kit offered up full boost at 3250 rpm (7 psi) and tapered off slightly to 5 psi by the rev limiter. This offers zero lag on the road or track and instant response with mountains of torque. The dreaded 86 ‘torque hole’ is also completely eliminated.
On the road the kit is just seamless. There is no lag or delay in throttle response and the car just goes. If you didn’t already know, you would struggle to tell the car had a turbocharger on it. The power level is just right, working well with the upgraded brakes and suspension. Passing is now a breeze and you can just leave the car in any gear and punch the throttle. I was also surprised how well the car put the power down – Take note Mr Toyota, this is how every Toyota 86 should be!
Stay tuned as our next blog post will cover how the car performed on the race track at the 4 & Rotary Jamboree Superlap competition.

#Project86 – Toyota Whiteline Suspension Component Testing

In our quest to transform our Toyota GT86 into the ultimate street driven, track weapon we installed selected Whiteline suspension components in an effort to improve the handling, you can read about the installation here.

In theory we knew what we wanted to achieve by installing the Whiteline parts, but the real question was how they performed in real life. So we drove the car to Auckland and setup a test track at the Ardmore airport, watch the video below to find out how it went.

Whiteline Suspension components fitted:

#Project86: Whiteline Suspension Component Installation

In our efforts to transform Project86 from a stock Toyota GT86 into the “Ultimate street car, come track day weapon” we have joined forces with Whiteline Suspension to “Activate More Grip”.

After our initial test of the 86 in factory form we noticed a few aspects that we weren’t completely happy with. The car had too much body roll, lacked general responsiveness and had almost no adjustability available in the stock suspension setup.

In this video Andre explains what Whiteline product we have installed and how that will help with our complaints with the car. Stay tuned for our next video where we take #Project86 to the track for the 4th time to test the Whiteline products and find out how they perform.

Just a note, Whiteline has similar products for most performance vehicles, click here to contact us.

Whiteline Suspension components fitted:

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