Movin’ on up

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Update by David S. Wallens to the Honda S2000 project car
May 10, 2004

Our on-track performance has improved a bit lately—no more getting clocked by locals—so we figured it was time for an update.

On April 18, we ran with the Central Florida Region SCCA at Palm Bay, Fla. The A Stock class had a four-car field, and we finished in second place behind Ken Marion’s well prepared 2004 S2000. This would be our last event running the car in as-delivered condition, as we’re now done using the car as a baseline of sorts against our Volvo 142 project.

Last week we performed some simple yet effective modifications: tires and an alignment.

Even though we’re running in a true street tire class, we figured that some improvements could be made, so we replaced the original Bridgestone Potenza RE050 tires with something a little faster: BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD tires in 225/45ZR17 (front) and 255/40ZR17 (rear).

In addition to getting some news tires fitted, we knew that car needed an alignment. We have heard that the S2000 benefits from an alignment, and we discussed our situation with Ian Stewart. He finished third at last year’s Tire Rack SCCA Solo II National Championship in his B Stock 2001 S2000 and offered some specifications for us to try: 1/16 to 1/8-inch total toe-out and -1.7 degrees of camber up front and zero rear toe along with -2.2 degrees of camber.

Granada Goodyear couldn’t get -2.2 degrees of camber on our rear suspension, so they got as close as possible.

Not only do we now have a little more negative camber, but our settings are a little more constant from one side of the car to the other.

The shop returned the car with 36 psi of air at each corner, so we used that as our starting point for our next event. (We had been running 37 psi all around.)

With new tires installed and a fresh alignment under the car, we headed to Tavares, Fla., this past weekend for a Martin Sports Car Club autocross. Even though our car is still legal for their B Stock class, we’re going to stick with the Street Modified Street Tire class, allowing us a little more freedom regarding future modifications.

We had four cars in this catchall class, including a MINI Cooper S and Robert Palmblad’s supercharged Miata. (This car should be a contender in Street Modified 2 at this year’s Solo II Nationals and ProSolo Finale.)

The S2000 was a transformed beast after the new tires and alignment settings—it behaved nicely through the slalom, put down the power well and felt solid through the sweepers.

This weekend’s course had some tight, tight sections, and taking them in first gear seemed to be the ticket—not only did it allow the car to leave the corner at a quicker rate of speed, but we seemed to be able to follow a tidier line while in the lower gear. The course also had some fast sections, and we learned that lifting the throttle while at speed can produce some hairy rides. (Yeah, it was a textbook example of trailing-throttle oversteer.)

At the end of our three runs, we were second in class, about three-tenths behind the Miata. (It was on Kumho ECSTA 712 tires, not the Hoosiers it normally runs.)

On Sunday, we attended a test and tune day organized by the Evolution Driving School. The format was open, and we got in about 15 runs. We could have taken more, but we didn’t want to scorch our new tires. Turns out the wear was negligible, as we didn’t measure any.

Ian Stewart was at the event, and we put him behind the wheel of our car for a few laps. He said the balance of the car was pretty good, but some fine-tuning should make things better—and faster.

Here’s what we learned this past weekend:

  • The car is definitely tail happy—almost too much.
  • There is a low-speed push, but we may just drive around it as not to make the car any more loose.
  • We’re slightly rolling the rear tires onto their shoulders.
  • The shock absorbers feel too mushy.
  • The driver needs to look up more.

We’re still awaiting our times from this past weekend, and once they’re posted we’ll know more. We think we can cure our ills while keeping the car SCCA Stock-class legal, in fact.

Here’s a recap of our season.

· Feb. 8, Martin at Tavares, 1st out of 3 in B Stock.
· Feb. 29, SCCA at Palm Bay, 3nd out of 3 in A Stock.
· March 7, Martin at Tavares, 2nd out of 2 in B Stock.
· April 10, Martin at Gainesville, 2nd out of 8 in Street Mod Street Tire.
· April 18, SCCA at Palm Bay, 2nd out of 4 in A Stock.
· May 8, Martin at Tavares, 2nd out of 4 in Street Mod Street Tire.

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