Barra-powered Ford Cortina wins Six-Cylinder class at Drag Challenge 2019

George Lyras’s Barra-swapped Cortina showed its merit, winning the XR6 Turbo Developments Six-Cylinder class on debut

Photographers: Chris Thorogood, Michelle Porobic, Luke Hunter, Shaun Tanner

IT COMES as no major surprise that the winner of the XR6 Turbo Developments Six-Cylinder class at Drag Challenge 2019 was packing a turbo Barra, George Lyras’s Barra-swapped Ford Cortina leading the class from start to finish in a cracking DC debut.

“I’ve wanted to do the event for probably the past two years, but with a busy work schedule it didn’t really line up until this year,” George said.

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George has owned his Cortina for around 10 years, buying it with a turbo-fed Crossflow donk under the bonnet. About four years ago he decided to give the car a birthday, redoing the chassis, ’cage and, critically, the powerplant, throwing in a Barra turbo mill. “I had some troubles with the first engine, so with this one I went to Glenn Wells Engines, where he built me a really capable package,” said George.

The FG donk copped a billet Spool crank girdle, Nitto rods, CP pistons, studs throughout and a Garrett 4202 hairdryer. Running a Haltech ECU with the full Haltech catalogue and E85, the mill currently makes 640rwkW (858rwhp) on 38psi. “The engine can take me to the 1000rwkW [1340rwhp] mark, and the turbo should be good for 700rwkW [938rwhp] if we wanted,” said George.

Backing up the monster Barra is a Powerglide and a nine-inch diff from NextGen Race Cars.

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While he may have led the class from start to finish, George didn’t even get to the end of Day One without having dramas. “We melted the electrode on plug five, so we had to turn it down,” he said. “And on top of that we had wiring issues, which we eventually chased down to one bloody wire on the alternator, but that destroyed our lives for about five hours on the road,” he said.

Despite having to play it safe and dial the power down, George still ran an 8.81@148mph on Day One at Calder to take the class lead and be the only six-pot class car into the eights. The next three days of eighth-mile racing at Mildura and Portland saw him run bests of 5.80@121mph on Day Three at Mildura and 5.73@121mph on Day Four at Portland, leaving just 0.823sec between George and second-placed Chris Palfreyman in his Barra-swapped XD Falcon heading into the final day back at Calder.

Things really heated up when Chris went out and ran a monster PB of 8.71@157mph, as George was stressing trying to crack back into the eights. However, the battle came to a premature end when Chris hurt his gearbox on his PB pass, and despite his humble nature, it was clear to see that George was relieved to take the class win, handing in an 8.97@151mph. “We never came into the week trying to run a PB at every track,” he said. “After we had the drama on Monday, we just wanted to get through the week and run some decent times, so I’m stoked we got the class win, especially in our first crack.

“The best bit about this event is the people,” he continued. “When we had dramas on Monday – and even on Thursday when the alternator pulley fell off at Portland – blokes were coming over straight away asking us if we needed a hand, which you don’t get at any other event.”

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George said he’d be keen on another crack next year, and has high hopes for the Six-Cylinder class. “I reckon the class will keep growing in numbers, and if we can get things to line up I reckon I’ll come back next year,” he said.




Class: XR6 Turbo Developments Six-Cylinder


Engine: Barra Turbo

Turbo: Garrett 4202

Transmission: Powerglide

Converter: SDE, 3700rpm

Diff: 9in, 3.5:1 gears

Power: 858rwhp

Previous PB: 8.57@159mph

Best DC 2019 Pass: 8.81@148mph