The first official SCCA autocross of the season for us is in the books. Two weeks ago I headed to Lincoln, NE for the Championship Tour portion of Spring Nationals. As I mentioned in the prior update, I will not be able to run any ProSolos this year so I only ran the Tour which took place on Sunday and Monday for Memorial Day weekend.
As is standard for the car this season, we were running in the STU class of Street Touring (ST). For those not familiar with autocross, ST classes are the next step up for the Stock/Street classes. Cars still run on street tires (200 UTQG treadwear), but are allowed more freedoms in the setup. Suspension components (springs, ARBs, shocks, etc) are essentially free. Bolt on engine mods are allowed as are a few chassis and drivetrain modifications like differentials, race seats, and other things that make the car more sporty and more fun to drive.
For the 2016 season, Scott Steider will be codriving with me as the first driver in the car. Scott normally runs a 350Z in STU so he is familiar with the class and the competition. We arrived early enough on Saturday to run some TNT runs on the concrete. While I expected the car balance to change as it usually does on higher grip surfaces, the change was much greater than I anticipated. We had to make a lot of changes to try and balance the car more towards oversteer compared to the Mineral Wells setup. The one area the car felt great was in slaloms, meaning that the pre-production dampers on the car were working as intended.
We made pressure adjustments, alignment changes, and several adjustments to the rear suspension to try and free the car up. While I would still like a little bit more, the car is much closer to where it needs to be on high grip concrete. A lot of the changes made were either more dramatic or much less dramatic than expected. I'll cover this in later posts once I have finished the necessary calculations and updated my models.
Day 1 opened with a sweeper heavy course on the East side of the Lincoln concrete. We were still trying some of the above changes, but with a solid first run that gave me a substantial lead, changing things with the car became an option. We kept pushing to loosen the car up and on the last run, made an adjustment to help the front end get a little more bite. It worked and I put another 0.5s on the field. I finished Day 1 with just shy of a 1.0s lead with a 56.145s run. My goal was to put a total of 2.0s on the class over two day considering a few of the heavy hitting RWD cars were not present (specifically Bryan Heitkotter - professional Nissan factory driver in former National Championship winning 350Z, and Nick Barabato - GT Academy finalist also in a 350Z, and Jeff Stuart - 2015 STU National Champion, again in a 350Z). Scott ended up 1.6s back from me, sitting on his slowest raw time due to cone trouble. Had he kept it clean, he would have been 1.3s back for his first event in the car. Having accomplished what I needed to on Day 1, so it was on to do it again on Day 2.
Day 2 turned out to be the Day 1 course backwards instead of the 2015 National Championship West course backwards. Most people seemed to be running about one second faster due to a couple modifications to the course so I was expecting a low 55s run with the goal of breaking into the 54s. My first run was fairly conservative since I wanted to make sure I got a good, clean run in the bank. Having done this, I started pushing harder and ran a 55.096s run despite a missed shift at the start. I backed up this time on my third run at 0.01s slower than my second. I finished with a 111.241s time giving me a 1.713s win over second place. I was still 0.5s back from STR. My goal is to beat STR even on courses that favor the S2000 CRs, which this one did. That still means there is work to be done. On top of that, the fourth place finisher in STU had an excellent Day 2 compared to his Day 1 as he ended up with a time just over 0.4s off of my Day 2 time. Again, this shows that there is still work to be done in the effort to win the 2016 STU National Championship.
Scott finished sixth overall, but had the third fastest time on Day 2 with no cone trouble. For his second Day on a real course in the car, he is catching up very well and I expect we should be able to get the car into 1-2 podium spots regularly in the future. Scott and I like the same setup, which helps greatly in getting the car prepped. He also provides a great reference for how easy the car is to drive. The fact that he can get up to speed this quickly in just six runs is an excellent sign that the car is fast AND easy to drive. Lastly, the fact that I can throw down a fast run on my first run is a huge benefit of the current setup. Either that or my current penchant for 90s and early 2000s rap is the secret to speed. Going forward, I want to ensure the car remains easy to drive, but gains the pace it needs to keep up with the heavy hitters.
The results are located here.
We are 96 (Scott) and 196 (Lane) due to someone new to the class registering under my normal 99/199.
The next event will be the Texas A&M Championship Tour at the end of June. In that time, I plan to finish the measurements of the ARBs (aka. anti-roll bars, sway bars) so that I can make more calculated changes on site and get meaningful balance changes quickly. We also might be making one slight adjustment to the dampers before releasing them for production to bias corner entry rotation a little more in the direction I want. Overall though, the Whitener Racing Shocks are some of the best dampers I have run on in my six years of National autocrossing.
One thing I would like to hear from you guys is what you would like in terms of posts/videos from these events. I always break down the data (currently using SoloStorm) to see where I left time on the table. I also do a full debrief, usually by myself but now with Scott, on what went well, what didn't, what needs to change, what shouldn't, etc. If that sort of thing would be of interest to you, please let me know and I will start working on that going forward.
Thanks for your interest in Borg Motorsports and the ongoing feedback! We always appreciate it.