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Old 09-30-2005, 04:45 PM   #1
flyboymike
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Default Project Kaylee: Seeking Balance

I've been looking at this site for a long time and finally became a member back in March when I got my 2005 WRX Wagon in WRB. I've already learned quite a bit, but wouldn't mind some direct feedback, so I thought I'd put up what I plan to do to prep for some autocrossing.

Fair warning: this will be a long post.

Goals: Daily driver and autocross. I'm going to go for the STX class, since this seems to be a good balance of cost, streetability, and making a fun car. This car will be used for commuting and several long road trips, so I can't compromise comfort. A monster car that is uncomfortable is, by definition, not fun. I won't be using the super-hard setups used by National winners. Instead, I just want the driver to be the limiting factor, not the car. This means as skills increase, mods will increase. For example, I've already learned the magic formula for tuning with tire pressures on the RE92's. I've done an autocross school and three or four events, and I feel like I've learned all I can on them, so I feel ready for sticky rubber.

Mods already completed: I've done some small stuff, such as Kartboy SS and shifter bushings, CG Lock, and a K and N panel filter.

Future mods in order:
Tires - probably Hankook RS2-Z212 for their low cost and apparent longevity
Goodridge SS braided brake lines/appropriate fluid/speed bleeders
Hawk HPS pads
IPD swaybar set - Less roll, a new, fairly simple tuning tool, and IPD has almost the complete package... might add front endlinks
EBay rear strut tower bar with Whiteline quick-release
Whiteline STX-legal offset bushing
Koni inserts and Prodrive springs EDIT: Probably Crucial Racing springs
-or-
Whiteline Group 4 coilovers - I'll need more data as to whether these are worth an extra thousand over a Koni/Prodrive setup... I'd pay it if it increased both comfort and performance
Camber/Caster plates and Grp N rear strut tops - either sometime before the strut/springs or at the same time
Gram Lights 57C in 16x7 - I want a 16 inch wheel to reduce tire expenses. These look awfully good in gold. I'll time buying these with the next set of tires.

At this point, the suspension will be pretty much done. There might be a few other bushings, etc, I'd throw in there, but that's about it. There are no extreme spring rates or overly huge swaybars, so it should remain usable on the street and in low-grip conditions (well, maybe swap on snow tires as appropriate).

With a proper suspension and sticky tires, it's time for power.

Cobb Accessport - It seems like a simple plug and play solution that still allows good flexibility. I can have multiple maps, and if I ever want to get a professional tune, I just need to find a shop.
Gauges - I'd prefer to keep it to just boost and EGT so I don't need a triple pod blocking my clock and my field of vision
UP/DP - I'm doing exhaust after the engine management to avoid the OL/CL fuelling problem. I'll get the cheapest UP I can find. I want to use a shorty DP and the stock third cat to minimize expense. I'm willing to give up a few ponies for that.
Turbo inlet hose - Should be safe on the Cobb STX map, hopefully improve spool-up

With all this, I should have a pretty sweet street car that can put me in the running at a local autocross and serve my daily needs for $6,000 to $7,000. It should not be significantly less reliable than stock, but it will be significantly more fun. I'll do all the installation work myself (plus NASIOC friends, of course). I think I've got a good balance of street use, autocross use, and cost.


Beyond....
I might dip my toe into the Street Mod class. The main reason I would do this is if I could make the car more fun on the street. If I really want to, I can switch between Stage 2 and the STX map to see what I like better. If I'm hankering for Stage 2 and beyond, I'll get some cheap Rota Slipstream 16x8's, put one of the newbie/high wear R-compound tires on 'em, and see how that feels. I'm betting with the Private For Sale forum I could get back half my money if I don't want to continue down this path. The last step would be a cheap but effective for autocross turbo upgrade: Deadbolt Monster TD04 and a Protune. This turbo doesn't absolutely require the supporting mods of bigger turbos and seems like one of the cheapest ways to get a fast spooling turbo. I don't mind leaving the same top end as stock. This will be useful both for digging out of corners on the autocross course and make the car more streetable. Low-end torque is the name of the game. This would be the last step to SM, since it's a little harder to reverse (in terms of vehicle downtime). Total cost: $2000, plus replacing more expensive tires.

Thanks to many knowledgeable people who have posted information, but especially Unabomber, Arnie, Myles, and BIGSKYWRX. In a way, this is the summation of what I've learned so far from this board. How does the plan sound?
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Last edited by flyboymike; 11-26-2005 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 09-30-2005, 05:01 PM   #2
F456mGT
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I would love to hear the answers. I was looking at doing something similar in the nearby future.
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Old 10-02-2005, 05:16 PM   #3
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Bump.
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Old 10-22-2005, 04:36 PM   #4
flyboymike
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Default Prodrive oval-tip installed

I'm going to keep this thread going as I complete upgrades and compete in events.

I put on a Prodrive oval-tip this week. It does sound quite lovely. This still fits into my "fun" mods category. When I move on to my next duty station, tires should be coming on pretty quickly.

Last edited by flyboymike; 11-20-2005 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 10-22-2005, 06:49 PM   #5
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My preference would be to move the camber/caster adjustments and sway bars much higher in the order, probably just under tires. Those will probably be my first mods when I jump into STX. (Currently running stock/street-tire class with front sway bar and Hankooks.)
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Old 10-23-2005, 12:02 AM   #6
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I just started really tuning my WRX for STX class, but I'm not very tech-saavy, but I'll toss in my 2 cents from someone that has driven it bone stock up to this point.
As for sway bars - well, we did wheels and tires (made the mistake of getting some Eagle F1 DSG3's as tires ... they practically melted in the first run) and next are the COBB swaybar set (front and adjustable rear) and I'll let you know how that goes .
Watch out on the AccessPORT - there are class-legality questions I hear a lot of people raising about that type of tuning right now.
Just my 2 (make that 10, with the length) cents.
I'll probably get an AccessPort next year and have it professionally tuned at a close AWD performance shop and get a few maps - both for the street and the track.

Last edited by JustAScoobyGrl; 10-23-2005 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 10-23-2005, 07:20 PM   #7
flyboymike
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I've already bought the Hawk pads, just too chicken to mess with my brake system just yet :-D. The order is still fairly flexible. Sways will be the next $300-$400 dollar item to go on the car after tires. Some of the stuff between just makes more sense budget-wise. I can do little stuff and save up for a few months for the big stuff.

I'm thinking of leaving off camber/caster until I can install it right along with my new strut and spring combination. This is to save a little install time. Oh, and I'm also leaning strongly toward Crucial springs instead of the Prodrive after reading some good stuff about them. If I'm wrong and feel like something softer would be better for a daily driver, I'm betting I can sell 'em off with minimal loss.

As for the Accessport, I doubt I'll be hitting national events. It should be close enough for most locals, I think. If the bitching continues, I'll get myself a Protune, or just run street tires and Stage 2 in SM.
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Old 11-20-2005, 02:09 AM   #8
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Default Hawk HPS pads installed

Finally installed the Hawk HPS pads. I didn't need to reuse the shims or shields from the OEM pads. There is a very, very slight improvement in pedal feel. I haven't gotten a chance to check fade resistance or anything like that. Far more important is it increased my confidence in modifying a critical system (i.e., could kill me) of the car. The ease of access in working in the fender wells is particularly enjoyable. Every time I wrench, it seems like I'm getting a little better.

Continuing on with the project, I might be doing things a little out of order. Right now I've got a lot of time on my hands, so I'm looking to spend money on a few things that I'll be doing the installation for myself before I get sticky tires. I've also got a long road trip north coming up that precludes putting on summer rubber. It's likely the swaybars will be on the car before the tires.
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Old 11-20-2005, 07:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboymike
I haven't gotten a chance to check fade resistance or anything like that.
Don't worry they're better!
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:26 AM   #10
flyboymike
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Sweet. Good to know.

Oh, and I love the username. Very good Simpsons reference.
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Old 11-24-2005, 12:41 AM   #11
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More parts should be coming shortly. I saw an excellent deal on some Rota Attacks with Bridgestone Potenza S-03 tires, so I decided to go for 17's, even though that wasn't part of the original plan. They're 225/45, which seems like a good starting place. Looks like I'll have to add rolling the fenders to my to-do list.
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Old 11-24-2005, 02:54 AM   #12
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Regarding swaybars when you get them: I'd recommend the Whiteline adjustable front bar, in the stiff position I think it's the stiffest bar available for the wagon.
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Old 11-24-2005, 10:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drees
Regarding swaybars when you get them: I'd recommend the Whiteline adjustable front bar, in the stiff position I think it's the stiffest bar available for the wagon.
I've already ordered the iPd bar set, 22 mm front with 20 to 24 mm adjustable rear. I understand the potential benefits of a really thick front bar. I'll see if it's what I really want, or if 22 mm is enough. I'm trying not to go too extreme with any of my spring rates (or bar equivalents). Are there any conditions where a huge front swaybar would be detrimental?
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:02 PM   #14
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Only cases where a really big bar is detrimental is when going over a big bump with only one wheel. You'd have to go a lot bigger than 22mm to notice.

Either way, the 22mm front is a good improvement over stock. Start the rear bar at the softest setting (holes nearest the end of the bar) and work your way up from there.
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyboymike
This means as skills increase, mods will increase.
One problem with this strategy (constantly f*ing with the car) is that you will be constantly re-learning how the car handles. If you definitely want to do some of this stuff, you may want to consider doing the major stuff (i.e. springs/struts/plates, wheels/tires, sways) upfront (tho I see you already have the wheels/tires). Easier to add power than add suspension, but you are already on top of that.

Anyhoo, I wish I had just put the good stuff on the car between 03 and 04 and left it the hell alone for two seasons, instead of running 4 different sets of tires, two suspensions, two rear bars, etc etc. over the same period of time. If you are like me and not an expert suspension tuner it's easier to learn to drive if you don't have to deal with dialing in the suspension at the same time.

Just imho

john
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Old 11-26-2005, 11:18 PM   #16
flyboymike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtDyno
One problem with this strategy (constantly f*ing with the car) is that you will be constantly re-learning how the car handles. If you definitely want to do some of this stuff, you may want to consider doing the major stuff (i.e. springs/struts/plates, wheels/tires, sways) upfront (tho I see you already have the wheels/tires). Easier to add power than add suspension, but you are already on top of that.

Anyhoo, I wish I had just put the good stuff on the car between 03 and 04 and left it the hell alone for two seasons, instead of running 4 different sets of tires, two suspensions, two rear bars, etc etc. over the same period of time. If you are like me and not an expert suspension tuner it's easier to learn to drive if you don't have to deal with dialing in the suspension at the same time.

Just imho

john
Aah, I guess I didn't really make the timeline particularly clear here. Things are going to be done in stages. Sways f/r and wheels/tires look like they'll be first. Then I'll get on the strut/spring/top hats/camber plates and get it aligned. I don't know how many events or how much time I'll have between doing these two things. I've got a lot of time on my hands right now, so I want to install as much as I possibly can. Unfortunately, I don't think I can buy every little piece all at once. Luckily, for the Koni inserts solution, I can space out buying various pieces and still have stuff to work on.

I look at the swaybars and the struts to be the two major components to the suspension that I'll be addressing. Any other incidental stuff, like stainless steel brake lines and hardened bushings, should not change the fundamental characteristics of the car, so there shouldn't be too much relearning from doing this. I also don't intend to change the components I selected here unless something is just way, way unworkable. I haven't ridden in any other types of suspensions, but I think with the high-quality Koni shocks and Crucial springs, the daily ride is very likely to be tolerable.
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Old 11-26-2005, 11:24 PM   #17
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Definitely get upgraded endlinks for the front when you do the swaybar. The stock wagon ones suck.

Also consider camber plates for the front. The Hankooks (get 235/40/17) like camber. With camber you run 36/36 tire pressures for best grip. Adjustable rear sway as noted above and start on the softest setting.

That with the Koni/Prodrive setup should be an excellent start. The problem with the Whiteline G4's is that they are designed for the sedan, so you lose camber over the stock wagon struts although the Whitelines do this the least over other coilovers.

Don't forget an alignment when you get that all fitted
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Old 11-26-2005, 11:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlkWRXWag
Definitely get upgraded endlinks for the front when you do the swaybar. The stock wagon ones suck.

Also consider camber plates for the front. The Hankooks (get 235/40/17) like camber. With camber you run 36/36 tire pressures for best grip. Adjustable rear sway as noted above and start on the softest setting.

That with the Koni/Prodrive setup should be an excellent start. The problem with the Whiteline G4's is that they are designed for the sedan, so you lose camber over the stock wagon struts although the Whitelines do this the least over other coilovers.

Don't forget an alignment when you get that all fitted
Thanks for the info. I actually do already have front endlinks coming in, as well as camber/caster plates. It turns out that my deal on the wheels includes Bridgestone S-03 tires, so I'm starting on those instead of the 'Kooks. Also, after reading good things about the Crucial Racing springs, I want to try those out.

The G4 camber issue is another good point. My main reasoning for skipping the G4's was that I think I will have plenty to play with just by adjusting damping, swaybar, and alignment, not to mention tire pressure. I do not believe height adjustment and corner weighting will get me anything around the cones for a good long while. Oh yeah, and I always appreciate the increased damping of a cool extra thousand dollars in my wallet
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:21 PM   #19
flyboymike
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Default RSB and endlinks installed

I managed to get the rear sway bar and endlinks from the iPd kit installed. It was way more time-consuming than I would have liked. The stock mounts wouldn't fit the new bar, so I had to go ahead and replace them with the new iPd mounts. The problem area was under the passenger side of the car. Access behind the fuel filler neck and the charcoal box was extremely tight. I finally got the mount buttoned up and the swaybar on the mount when I noticed that there was no way I could attach the endlinks to the swaybar.

WHEN DOING THIS INSTALL, MAKE SURE THE SWAYBAR ENDS ARE ABOVE THE TRAILING LINKS BEFORE TIGHTENING THE SWAYBAR IN ITS BRACKETS!

Okay, caveats like that aside, things went okay. I still feel like my wrenching skills are improving. I would've been completely stumped at a couple of points not a few months ago. I set the bar to the 20 mm equivalent and went for a drive. I couldn't feel a difference doing anything legal on the streets. Of course, Florida doesn't exactly offer the greatest number of twisty roads I've ever seen. Hopefully, I'll be getting out to an autocross this weekend to give it a shot.

I'm probably going to wait for next week for the FSB and endlinks. The idea of taking off the subframe is kind of intimidating. Is this supposed to be done with weight on the wheels? I've read it both ways, and it seems like you'd have to take the swaybar out through the wheel-well.
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Old 11-29-2005, 06:24 PM   #20
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Best FSB instructions can be found on www.cobbtuning.com and yes, put the car on ramps. Subframe is easy - just put the bolts down in the order they came out because they are different lengths!
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Old 12-05-2005, 12:41 AM   #21
flyboymike
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Default Autocross: 4 DEC 05

I got out to the Allies v. Axis autocross hosted by the Dixie Region SCCA this weekend. I'm going to try to make a nice format for recording my autocross results. This might be a long post.

Event: Dixie Region "Allies v. Axis"
Date: 4 Dec 2005
Location: South Georgia Motorsports Park
Suspension Mods: iPd rear sway bar on middle setting
Wheels/Tires: Rota Attack 17x7.5 with Bridgestone Potenza S-03 in 225/45/17 at about half tread
Pressures f/r in psi: 35/33 hot
Engine Mods: K and N drop-in filter, Prodrive axle-back
Number of runs: 5
Best time: 40.06x on 5th run
Class results: 3 of 4
Class win time: 38.0xx
Pax results: x of x
FTD: xxxxx

Course description: The parking lot was pretty wide, but since it was parallel to a drag strip it had much more length. The course wound up being a giant up-and-back. Going away from the start, it was a series of offsets with one proper corner thrown in for good measure. It finished with a lange-change maneuver, then a wide 180 degree turnaround. After the turnaround was a non-specified direction slalom with 5 cones. It was better to take the first slalom cone down the portside of the car to make the last slalom cone irrelevant as you swung out to the right for the next gate. It finished off with some nice open s-turns through the finish.

Course management: I found a good line through the tricky corner in the middle of the offsets. I also had good flow through the slaloms, lane-change, and s-turns. My problem was getting greedy on the 180 degree turnaround. It was wide, but not as wide as I was trying to make it, especially with trying to get to the right of the first slalom cone. My best run I finally slowed down for this corner. I treated the turnaround almost like two 90 degree right turns, but didn't really have the space to straighten out my wheel and brake for the second right-hander. I think I could've gotten more time by giving up a little bit at the end of the lane-change and finding a nice wide arc all the way through the turnaround.

Equipment management: I had put my tires to 35 f and 33 r in the paddock, but did not check them near my first run. I nearly spun through the slalom. I got back and found out the rears had crept up to almost 35 psi. Once I put the rears back down to 33, the car balanced well. The tires got greasy after three runs, so I borrowed a sprayer from a nice fellow running an A-stock STi. I'll have to get one for myself, I think.

Setup notes: The new wheel/tire combo reacts faster to input than the stock setup. I can input the steering later. Less steering angle is needed. The "driving on ball bearings" feeling is gone However, there is less warning about approaching the limit. I'll need more time exploring the tire's envelope. It's doubtless faster and more fun, but it's also less forgiving. Compared to my last event on the stockers, I couldn't focus on specific parts of the course where I could go faster because I was focusing on the equipment.

Competition notes: The class winner was in a Honda Civic that had STS equipment that the two drivers described as "not dialed-in." They were just checking out the class while they wait for their limited slip differential to come in. Both drivers got into the 38's. The guy behind me was in a V-6 Mustang with some unspecified suspension work. He was on the Hankook sport tires, K104, I think. I got him by about a second, but it looks like I had an equipment advantage. I'm pretty happy with how things turned out. With the stock setup, I was used to bringing a toothpick to a gunfight. Now, I felt more like it was a knife at a gunfight. I was behind, but not hopelessly so.

Other comments: Allies won, in spite of the fearless Banzai! charge led by a Prepared class Nissan 200SX.







If you can read this, you don't need glasses.
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:02 AM   #22
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So far everyone seems to be really surprised with the ride quality of our springs considering the relatively high spring rates. So... we're very happy all-around . We know they're extremely high quality and we're glad the day-2-day ride backs it up!

If you have any questions that aren't on the site or on here, don't hesitate to PM or e-mail (crucialracing@gmail.com)! ...thanks for thinking of us ...

Jeremy
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:10 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crucial Racing
So far everyone seems to be really surprised with the ride quality of our springs considering the relatively high spring rates. So... we're very happy all-around . We know they're extremely high quality and we're glad the day-2-day ride backs it up!

If you have any questions that aren't on the site or on here, don't hesitate to PM or e-mail (crucialracing@gmail.com)! ...thanks for thinking of us ...

Jeremy

Oh, don't worry, I'll be thinking of you guys for a lot of stuff

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Old 12-11-2005, 10:35 PM   #24
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Default FSB and endlinks installed

I installed the iPd front swaybar and Noltec endlinks this week. It was a little rough. The subframe didn't slide out the way I expected. Instead, the left and right subframe braces were connected around the front of the car. I wound up just bending it enough to get a socket in on the swaybar clamps.

Things really aren't to my satisfaction yet down there. I've posted elsewhere about my front endlinks being canted in. I'll try to get some pics and resolve it.
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Old 12-12-2005, 01:29 AM   #25
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Default Autocross: 11 Dec 05

Event: Middle Georgia Event #1
Date: 11 Dec 2005
Location: Watermelon Speedway
Suspension Mods: iPd rear sway bar on 23.5 mm, rear endlinks
iPd front swaybar, Noltec endlinks
Wheels/Tires: Rota Attack 17x7.5 with Bridgestone Potenza S-03 in 225/45/17 at about half tread
Pressures f/r in psi: 35/33 hot
Engine Mods: K and N drop-in filter, Prodrive axle-back
Number of runs: 6 plus 2 fun runs
Best time: 36.77 on 6th run
Class results: 2 of 4
Class win time: PAX class
Pax results: 6 of 30
FTD: 31.619

Course description: The course was in the infield of a 1/8 mile circle track. There was about a 100 ft drag-race start parallel to the main straight. Then there was a wide turn to the right followed by a chicago box. The next gate curled the whole thing back like a fishhook towards the drag-race start. Then the course swung sharply back left in a tight hairpin. A gate shot you out to the right, then it was a straight shot to a tight teardrop turnaround. It went back through the entrance gate to the turnaround, did another tight 180 back left reusing one of the approach gates, and then a small straight to the finish.

Course management: The first half of the course was very fast. I figured out the line pretty well. It was all about turning it into one giant sweeper. I gave up just enough throttle to let me open up a few of the potentially tight corners. Things were set up so that even with some power-on understeer at the end of the hairpin I could still make the next gate. I was pretty good for the most part right from the get-go on the open, fast section. The tough part was convincing myself that yes, slowing down way before getting to that super-tight turnaround was a good idea. Once I wasn't overcooking it, I could get up some momentum coming out of the exit.

Equipment management: The RSB was at "23.5 mm" instead of the full 24 mm equivalent strength because I had managed to strip some threads in the left endlink-to-swaybar bolt. I didn't have a good replacement around, so I cranked up the right endlink to the "full strong" position. iPd claims you can run assymetric like that and have no ill effects. I would agree. On the last tight autocross I did, turbo lag was absolutely killing me. Thanks to the greater confidence in the new tires and greater experience, it was a much less annoying issue. I had the turbo spool timed very well. Power came on just as I was ready for it coming out of the tight corners. I still wasn't doing any Camaro-style tire roasting, of course, but the painful, sheer frustration was gone. Even the tight stuff was fun. The only dynamic problem with the car was ABS-glide mode in hard braking. I'm going to have to find that fusebox, methinks.

Setup notes: The same air pressures as last event worked well here. I'm still exploring the limits of the new tires, which I think is affecting how I think of the balance of the car. It's still understeering slightly at the very limit, but I believe that is mostly a case of me coming into a corner too hot. There is no on-brake rotation. I like this relatively safe setup for exploring the new traction limits. What's the old saying? "That which instills the greatest confidence is the fastest setup."


Competition notes: I was the only STX car at the event, so for trophy purposes I was put into a PAX class with ASP and CSP. The CSP guys were in a couple of Miatas. I believe I beat them. The ASP entry was an FD RX-7. He had intake, exhaust, tuning, suspension, and insane skill. I think our PAX'ed times were about a second apart. He ran a 34 something. Insane car, insane driver. Oh yeah, and PAX or not, I still say it ain't fair to have a WRX with bars, wheels, and tires against a well-prepped RX-7 :- p My overall PAX result was pretty good. I've never been in the top 20 percent of a run day before. But, there were a lot of true novices and a number of HS cars on 4 season tires. (Oh, I felt their pain every time I heard those tires howl.) Still, I really feel like I've turned a corner with my driving and with my vehicle preparation.

Other comments: I managed a 36.44 during my fun-runs. I hit all my marks spot on just like my best competition run, but the difference was I had more bravery in terms of not giving up throttle when I wasn't quite in the position I wanted to be in. I didn't care about cones, so I had just a shade more guts. Right now, I'm at the point where I can get the right line and the right speed running at about 9/10ths. Making a smooth, clean run has always been my top priority. I didn't quite understand when people told me "if you don't cone every once in awhile, you aren't trying hard enough." I think I caught a glimpse today of what they meant by that. It's all about finding that hairy edge and staying just a smidge on the safe side. It's going to take a lot more runs before I really squeeze in on that.

And that's exciting.

Last edited by flyboymike; 01-14-2006 at 12:30 AM.
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