Sep 9, 2011 update to the Mazda MX-5 Miata project car

Project STR Samples CSP at Solo Nats

GRM's Alan Cesar waits for his soggy first run.
Yup, it's still wet out on the course.
Many drivers in class swapped from wet to dry tires, or dry back to wet.
SCCA's Howard Duncan takes to the quickly drying West course.

Following the fun of our R-compound tire test, we thought it would be an interesting experiment to run the car in the C Street Prepared class at the Tire Rack SCCA Solo Championship event in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since our regular drivers can’t compete in more than one class, we drafted GRM’s newest employee and long-time Miata owner Alan Cesar to make his first trip to Nationals and drive in CSP. We also twisted the arm of SCCA’s VP of Rally/Solo Howard Duncan to take a turn at the wheel, too. Just to keep things interesting, neither driver had an opportunity to practice in the car. To make matters even more challenging, the morning dawned with pouring rain that soaked the course.

The rain stopped as runs got underway, but plenty of water remained on the course. All the competitors had bolted on their racing rain tires, so we rolled up our STR “wet” tires of choice, the Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec. Conditions continued to dry out, so we installed the Hoosier A6 radials for the second and third runs, figuring it was all going to come down to the final run, anyway.

Alan was the first driver, and he had to live with lingering dampness and puddles that made driving at the limit on the virtually slick Hoosiers a real challenge. A spin and several big slides on his first two runs left Alan playing it safe to get a clean run in the bank heading into day two. Howard took maximum advantage of a rerun and the continually improving conditions to lay down the sixth-fastest time of the class!

Day two was a different story, with warm, humid and, most importantly, dry conditions. Alan adapted to the sticky Hoosiers, showing no fear as he attacked the course. Cone trouble on his first two runs again forced Alan into safe mode to get a good one in the books. Howard, who is no stranger to R-compound tires, also drove hard right out of the gate. His scratch times were solid, but cone penalties on all three runs pushed him down to 11th place, just out of the trophies.

The car showed good speed in CSP despite the relatively mild STR-class prep level. It would be an interesting experiment to do a little more development and try the car in CSP. Hmm…

Back to the matters at hand, the next stop for Project STR during Nationals week in Lincoln is in the Street Tire Roadster class. There, project drivers Chris Harvey and John Rogers will take the wheel.

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