Home: AFM Feature Cars: Sean Hyland's 2003 Targa Mustang
Sean Hyland's 2003 Targa Mustang
AFM Feature Car: Sean Hyland's 2003 Targa Mustang GT!
Sean Hyland's 2003 Targa Mustang
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Sean Hyland Breeds Pure Street Performance

BUILT TO WIN

EVER DREAM OF DRIVING A GROUND-POUNDING,
CORNER-
CARVING, ATTENTION-GRABBING
MUSTANG SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO HANDLE WHATEVER THE STREET HAS TO
THROW AT IT?

SEAN HYLAND DOESN'T HAVE TO DREAM
.
HIS 2003 MUSTANG GT FITS THAT BILL QUITE NICELY, COMBINING HANDSOME GOOD LOOKS
WITH HAIRPIN HANDLING PERFORMANCE
AND STREET MANNERS.

Designed and built with road racing in mind, Sean's GT was originally built for display at the 2001 SEMA show, where emphasis was more on visual outside appearance than performance. From there it was used primarily for advertising and promotional purposes as a Sean Hyland Motorsports (SHM) display car, appearing at twelve to fifteen shows a year while simultaneously pulling double duty as an SHM engineering mule for new product development and testing.

In the summer of 2003, Sean's life-long passion for road racing, along with his desire to enter one of the few, unique public road racing events remaining in the world, resulted in his need to build a car that could deliver ultimate street performance under the most grueling of street racing conditions-the Targa Newfoundland. The Targa Newfoundland is the biggest race still run on public roads in North America, covering over 1,000 miles on closed public roads, winding through fishing villages and across the top of sea cliffs.

While there was some initial consideration given to building a four-wheel-drive Ford Focus for the event, Sean made a last-minute decision to run a Ford Mustang instead. In just three short weeks, Sean and the SHM team managed to transform the SEMA show Mustang into one serious high-performance road race contender.

It was clear from the start that the Mustang needed to be setup specifically for the Targa Newfoundland event. Having studied the previous year's race, Sean realized that the rally wasn't won on the fast stages but rather on the slow, twisty parts, so the car was engineered to get through those sections of the race as quickly as possible.

SEAN HYLAND'S 2003 TARGA MUSTANG


ENGINE MODS
2003 Cobra 4.6L DOHC 4V bored to 5.0L, 400 HP
Ported and Polished Cylinder Heads
SHM Custom High-Flow Intake Manifold
SHM Billet Camshafts
SHM Forged Pistons and Connecting Rods
SHM Long-Tube Headers
Fluidyne Heavy-Duty Aluminum Radiator

TRANSMISSION MODS
T56 6-Speed Transmission
B&M Shifter
Cobra Clutch and Aluminum Flywheel

DRIVELINE MODS
Superior 31-Spline Axles
4.30:1 Ring and Pinion
Eaton Limited-Slip Differential
Aluminum Driveshaft

CHASSIS/SUSPENSION MODS
Dynamic Dampers
FK Springs
Steeda Front Sway Bar
Steeda Upper and Lower Rear Control Arms and
Bushings
Steeda X2 Ball Joints
Steeda Bumpsteer Kit
Steeda 4-Bolt Upper Strut Mounts (Adjustable
Caster/Camber Plates)
Brembo Front Brake Kit
Hawk Rear Brake Pads
Hydraulic WRC Style Hand Brake
Motul 600-Degree Race Fluid
Stainless Steel Brake Lines

WHEELS/TIRES
Steeda Ultralite Wheels

Boasting 400 horsepower at the flywheel and about 360 at the rear wheels courtesy of the naturally-aspirated Cobra 4.6L engine honed out to 5.0L, there is more than ample power to push down the straightaways and through the turns. The cams make power between 4,000-7,000 rpm. The engine is the same you would run for any road race except for the need to run a smaller, highermounted exhaust for added ground clearance (which cost between 35 to 40 horsepower). While the engine could easily make 50 or even 100 more horsepower, that results in even more issues with traction and tire wear.

A normal Pro Rally has the fastest cars running at the front, so they get the best roads. In contrast, the Targa event has all of the fast cars at the back where road conditions are not as good (due to front-leading cars cutting corners and spreading gravel right in the apex of the turns). Since Sean was running Modern Modified, the fastest class with the lowest target time, his SHM Mustang started out running last on all four days.

"Running Modern Modified was particularly challenging," says Sean, "especially when you consider despite never having been on the roads before, you are expected to go as fast as possible without crashing. It was often hard to get a read from the maps, and you mostly just drive to what you see. Sometimes instructions were overly cautious and other places there were no cautions but the roads were narrow and treacherous. It was surprising how rough the roads were. On one stage the road was so rough that my vision was blurred."

With such rugged road conditions, the Targa is rough on the cars. You have to prep a car for the Targa differently than you do for the typical road race course or a gravel rally. Whereas you may run a slightly wider and lower profile tire in a road race-like a 295 in the rear-driving on the bump stops requires a more rugged setup. Sean and his team opted for more sidewall to prevent bending the rims. They chose instead to run 275/40/17 Toyo R compound tires on a Steeda one-piece, lightweight rim. The one piece rim was selected over the Ultralite three-piece racing rims.

On the suspension side there are mostly Steeda components, with Sean selecting a fairly stiff front spring (800-lb rating) and going with a softer-than-stock rear spring to get the power down to the ground. When asked why the Steeda components, Sean replied, "Because Dario knows his suspension stuff and he knows what works. SHM handles and uses Steeda components because they make a good product and it works." For braking, Sean went with a standard off-the-shelf Brembo Cobra R front brake system using a competition race pad and Cobra R carbon-fiber brake ducts to eliminate brake fade. SHM is the exclusive distributor of these same parts that went on the 2000 Cobra R.

While Sean's passion for racing may have fueled his entry into the Targa, Sean also recognizes his participation as good exposure for SHM and an excellent testing ground for the components SHM develops, uses and sells. For example, during the Targa SHM tested two new engine components. Later, Sean and crew tore down the engine to test and analyze wear on these components. Another example was the 2003 Cobra-style carbon-fiber hood on the car, which served as a prototype for a product SHM will soon release.

Sean already has plans to enter the Targa Newfoundland event in 2004, running the SHM Mustang in basically the same configuration except for an additional 50 hp and a one-inch higher ride height to prevent the rear shocks from bottoming out. While it was quite an accomplishment to beat a factory Subaru rally car on stage times, in a street legal, daily driveable Mustang, next time around Sean plans to do that and more. He plans to win First in his class

Read our complete Sean Hyland Targa Mustang "Built To Win" Article, including side bars on Targa Newfoundland, as published in the May 2004 issue of Mustang Enthusiast Magazine.

 

Article By Scott Halliday, Mustang Enthusiast Magazine and AllFordMustangs.com


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