Project S4: Tarox Track Day Brake Kit

Fitting a good set of brakes to any car that’s used on track days – like Road’s Project S4 – is a no brainer. Even a good performance car, like the S4, will suffer from brake fade – caused by overheating discs, pads and fluid – on a track day, driven properly. The result is a soft, useless, spongy pedal and a serious, ney dangerous fade in braking performance. And if you’ve tuned your car, like Project S4, with added power and handling ability (therefore cornering speeds), you really need to think about upgrading the brakes too, for road use and certainly for track days.

Project S4 is running an excellent uprated stage one engine spec of: Millers racing engine and transmission fluids, a Milltek Sports full exhaust system, K&N air filter, Forge blow off valves and a Superchip-mapped ECU – c310-320bhp, with similar torque, which is pretty darn quick. And we’ve also fitted the S4 with a fabulous set of Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, which have seriously increased the cornering speed the now 13-year-old S4 is capable of, making full use of the very good all-round Dunlop Sport Maxx TT rubber. It’s a good spec, which we are very happy with, for road and track.

But forays onto circuits have resulted in brake fade, as expected. Time to find a remedy.

Enter TAROX, (http://en.tarox.com/).  Since the early 1980s TAROX brake discs have been associated with absolute quality, making motorsport and aftermarket brake kits for fast road, race, rally and drag cars. Blank casts are used for TAROX discs and after having passed stringent quality controls, these are subjected to structural stress relieving heat treatment at the end of each machining phase, making them tough, durable and effective – combining all of their 30 years experience in each product. All disc ‘facing’ is performed on CNC turning machines or – in the case of G88 discs – on their in-house custom built machinery. Another distinguishing feature of TAROX brake discs is their perfectly level surface machined to a tolerance approaching 0.015 mm, achieved during the final finishing of the braking surfaces on grinding machines. Each disc is ground individually by specialised operator resulting in that distinctive shining look.

We were advised that TAROX discs work at their very best when coupled with TAROX pads – and their NEW braided brake line kits, of which Project S4 is one of the first cars to be fitted with – all of which have been specifically formulated to deliver optimum performance with the heat-treated discs.

The kit we were advised to go for, as a suitable fast road and track day tool, after much, expert, helpful consultation was the F2000 Track Day Package – designed for those who alternate the use of the car on the road with serious sessions on the track. The curved grooves in the disc design de-glaze the pads during useage, allowing them to run cooler. And we all know cooler brakes are happier, better brakes. They are also heat treated for strength and hand finished to ensure the smoothest possible braking surface.

A short time after placing the order, the TAROX F2000 kit arrived. It consisted of a pair of 321 x 30 mm front discs (£305 inc VAT), 256 x 22 mm rear discs (£202 inc VAT), the unbelievably complicated TAROX Corsa eight-pad set-up for the S4’s fronts (£150 inc VAT), TAROX Corsa rear pads (£58 inc VAT) and the brand new to the range, stainless steel braided brake line kit (£115 inc VAT).

TAROX say: “This package will improve the whole feel of your brakes offering a much more positive pedal, while offering more sustained braking when used hard over a period of time.”

As per usual, we took Project S4 to Dave Green’s Henstead Motorsport (http://www.henstead-motorsport.co.uk/) to fit the parts (and also do a few minor fix-its while on the ramp). The TAROX kit’s disc, pads and new braided lines were a dream to fit at the front, despite the over-complicated eight-pad Audi configuration! Everything was designed a treat, requiring no modifications and just the usual disc cleaning (to get slippery storage fluid off) hub scrubbing, copper greasing and care… something that comes as standard at Henstead (who now offer MOT’s for just £25, and tyre fitting and balancing. Bonus!)

Unfortunately, when it came to the rear discs, we could not fit them. The S4 has a solid rear disc set-up and we’d been sent vented units, which were too wide for the S4 calipers, so they had to stay off. That meant cleaning up the 13-year-old rear discs and just fitting the new braided lines and Corsa pads. We’re not that bothered though, as although it would have been nice to have shiny new rears, the S4 – like most cars – does 95% of its braking up front.

New brake fluid was added and a careful brake bleed done and we were ready to bed them in – a vital, oft over-looked exercise, which sets your new brakes up for a long and happy life. We did blocks of 10, progressively harder braking sessions, from 30-0 mph, 40-0 mph, 50-0 mph and 60-0 mph. Then we covered 50 gentle braking miles, before giving them a proper, full beans stop trial.

GOD! What a difference! Admittedly, the standard brakes that were on had seen better days, but still, the jump in performance and crucially, feel, is absolutely staggering. They are sensational, especially for this sort of value for money. There was some additional noise from the discs and pads initially, but, once bedded in, they soon quietened down to normal levels. What wasn’t normal was the stopping power, positivity and outstanding feedback this excellent TAROX track day brake kit has added: They are deeply impressive, stopping harder, faster, shorter and sharper in all the fast road use we’ve done to date.

We can not recommend this TAROX kit highly enough. Not only do they look great (even tucked in behind my standard, slightly tired S4 alloys), but they are seriously powerful weapons. Project S4’s stopping prowess has just been revolutionised… bringing braking performance into line with its hiked power levels and handling ability. The old Audi is now a well-rounded fast road and track day tool: Faster, sharper and safer than standard S4 spec. We’re very happy.

In the new year, we’ll be off to the track, to see how all the modifications to date work together (and we’re very confident the bionic brakes from TAROX will shine here, judging on how well they work on the road), but, for now, it’s a very successful year of excellent products making the 13-year-old Project S4 a far, far better car than Audi originally planned. Happy tuning days!

Thanks to Nick at TAROX for all his help, Dave at Henstead Motorsport and all Project S4 sponsors to date.

More here and on www.roadmagazine.blogspot.com soon