May 22, 2006 update to the Mazda STS2 Miata project car

An STS2 win at Mineral Wells!

We seem to have hit our stride now with the STS2 Miata, taking the class win this past weekend at the Mineral Wells Pro Solo. Competing against last year’s class champ in a CRX, we put down runs right from the start that turned out to be untouchable and we once again stayed way ahead of the STS class. We did learn a number of things, so we’ll report on those here.

Since we’ve done much of our testing at this site, we knew exactly what to do on setup. It’s a medium grip asphalt on which the car tends more towards oversteer. We also knew the course would be full of transitions where oversteer would be our enemy. So off came the 5/8” Racing Beat rear sway bar and on went the stock 12mm bar. This setup worked perfectly right from the outset.

The lot at Mineral Wells has a bit of a slope to it and the Pro Solo course went straight up the hill. As such, starts were a challenge so as not to roll out of the staging lights. The technique we used was to “heel and toe” with our left foot on both the brake and clutch at the same time. Then, a normal clutch release movement launches the car. Others were using the e-brake instead.

During the practice starts it became obvious that we’d have an advantage over the FWD CRX right from the start. Those cars had major difficulty getting off the line and up the hill, while our RWD Miata nicely transferred that weight to the rear wheels, hooked up and went. In fact, our 200-ft times were consistently about a tenth or two faster than the FWD cars.

One piece of bad news that we encountered is that the Falken RT-615 is not a good tire at all for back-to-back runs in 100 degree heat! Our afternoon runs, both on Saturday in class competition and Sunday in the Super Challenge, were a few tenths slower due to the lack of grip. About halfway through the first run, the tires became greasy. Each succeeding run was slower. Hopefully that kind of heat will not turn up at any more Pro Solos this year.

Next stop is Peru, IN for both the Tour and Pro Solo. We’ve got an underdrive crank pulley to install before leaving to up the power another notch. Also, we started to put the car on a final diet last week just prior to Mineral Wells. I’ll post pics of the “cheap seats” as soon as I get them downloaded.

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