F2 engines just a small part of specialist’s work
Technical director David Mountain founded Mountune Racing in 1980 to build Mini race engines, but it’s the company’s Formula 2 contract that I discuss with general manager Roger Allen as he shows me around the engine shop.
The range of engines being worked on is staggering. There’s a 1000bhp Viper engine for a Dodge truck (the client wants more power apparently) and an original GT40 V8 waiting to be shipped. As well as these projects senior technician Paul George is partly responsible for looking after the F2 power plants, one of which he is working on when we arrive.
Mountune has built, supplied and maintained all the F2 engines since the new version of the championship was launched in 2009. The turbocharged 1800cc Audi motors need to produce 500bhp. That may seem a sizable amount, but it’s when you learn that they also need to do the best part of 7000km without a rebuild that you realise the job Mountune has had on its hands.
“There isn’t actually a huge amount of work to be done on them now that everything has settled down,” admits George. “We can usually tell if something’s wrong before they come in because we get data from every car on the grid. If there’s an anomaly we’ll see it long before it gets here.
“The interesting thing for us is that we’ve got no vested interest in who wins. We spend the same amount of time on the car that’s at the back of the grid as the one that’s on pole.
“There was one guy who really struggled and he spent a lot of time complaining about the car. We took the stickers off, gave it to [2009 champion] Andy Soucek in the 2010 winter test and he topped the time sheets for two days. They really are all the same.”
“We haven’t introduced any new engines in three years, but it’s a bit like the story of the shovel,” says Allen. “The cylinder heads get changed every year and the block occasionally. We had a nightmare coming back from Marrakesh in May 2010 because the spares truck crashed as it was leaving. The locals descended on it and everything inside just disappeared. [MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan] Palmer spent a while trying to find the engines and I think we got some back… That aside, it’s just been a case of keeping on top of it all.”