Yet Another STS MR2!
So, I've had the good fortune to own one of the old hardtop '93 MR2s from the ES days of yore for quite a few years now. It's been in and out of retirement, driven occasionally, and I even listed it for sale about three years ago. Just seems like the MkII has been fading out of consistent autocross use at the National level (outside some SSM successes and a bit of FP appearance), and there are always other cars and ideas that kept it in the garage a good chunk of the year. This past off season, my co-driver and I were discussing doing something different, and I threw out the idea that I'd like to either do something with the MR2 or sell it and free up the space. Somehow that transitioned into the idea of doing something different and low pressure like building an STS MR2. Thought I would start a thread to document our progress, results, and share any info that we can in case others wanted some ideas.
Over the past few years, there have been a few discussions about STS MR2 builds, most notably I think was Jimmy's build last year. Even prior to that, I know we've had some discussions on the board here about what might work and some of the handicaps that an MkII would have to overcome. As such, I had considered doing the STS build as a side project a while ago just for fun, and if I hadn't had some of the surprise success in ES in 2015 it would have happened already.
Anyway, here's where we're at so far:
Cliff Notes version:
- '93 n/a MR2, PS, ABS, cruise control, no power options
- 15x7.5" wheels w/ 205/50/15 Bridgestone Re-71r's
- 550/800 spring rates with DA Koni coilovers and top hats from AlexW (Thanks Alex!)
- -4.5f/-3r degrees of camber, 1/8" toe out front, 1/8" toe in rear
- ST front sway and removed rear sway
- Stock size battery
- Stock seats
- OBX header from eBay
- Magnaflow cat (200-cell)
- Magnaflow HP-2 muffler
- Stock ECU
Wheels & Tires
I have managed to locate two 15x7.5" sets of wheels by watching eBay and HondaTech like a hawk. There are a few options in DB8's for sale thread on the OC here, too. We're using spacers to get them to a +25mm stance in the front right now. It looks stance-y, and is pretty hilarious. Seems to work though!
So far we're just using 205/50/15 Bridgestone RE-71r's, but the plan is to do some testing of BFG's and new Bridgestones in Lincoln for Spring Nationals next month. I'd like to think the 225 would be useful to the heavier car, but not sure if 7.5" wheels justify that yet.
We also have a set of 17's in the wings waiting for a tire decision. We have considered running a taller 17" tire in the rear on some courses where we need taller gearing. Something for the "bag of tricks" to reduce our course dependency.
Suspension + Alignment
At first I wanted to just do a cheaper option like KW's or Teins and chalk it up to the experimental nature of this STS build, but in the end I was lured toward AlexW's built Koni coilovers. Not only would this support someone doing a lot of great work to keep helping the MR2 and its owners, but the top hats are easily the best/most optimized design available for the MR2. Additionally, the Konis are the only shocks readily available that would handle the spring rates we need to run to limit body roll on our McStrut machines.
For spring rates, I'd been reading the barless setup threads that Steve helped to provide, and I'd thought about going that route for quite a while. However, when faced with the decision of what rates to run, I began to think long and hard about what I really thought worked. My preference was to maintain the front bar from my ES experience, and to remove the rear sway bar to try to minimize wheelspin. The primary advantage that the MR2 may have in STS is torque and weight on the drive wheels, so what I'm looking toward is applying power earlier during corner exit than most of our competition. The bar-less setup recommendations seemed to lean toward 850f/550r spring rates, and I was very intimidated by the 3.5+ Hz front frequencies that resulted from that setup. So, my rough "stab in the dark" estimates settled on 550f/800r lb/in spring rates while maintaining the hefty ST bar from ES. Just a starting point to get out and drive, and I assume(d) it will likely change.
For alignment and corner balance I turned to a trusty local shop out here called Big Bear Tire (can't say enough good things about them). My co-driver and I slammed the car as low as the coilovers would go and made the drive out there, only losing one fender liner in the process. On arrival, we settled on some numbers and dialed in camber to -4.5 front and -3 degrees in the back. Toe was set with a pretty traditional autocross alignment of 1/8" out in the front and 1/8" in at the rear. It's an attempt to balance power down, front/rear balance, and making sure we don't bandaid poor spring rate choices with dramatic alignment settings. We needed something to get the year started and see where we're at.
The corner balance revealed that with our limited prep we are currently at 2435 pounds. Slightly portly and disappointing, but there's still some work to do. Weight will be a priority as we go, but given that our car already has no AC and comparing weights with Jimmy's car last year, it's safe to say that the T-Top cars without glass in could have a slight weight advantage to the hardtop cars.
We did a lightweight Ballistic battery... and I promptly killed it leaving the trunk open and not disconnecting the battery. Lesson learned. So, still stuck with the large stock battery for now and waiting on a replacement. Quick disconnect for the battery will go in with the new one. :smile2:
The stock passenger seat weighed in at 31 pounds on my bathroom scale, and I'm guessing the drivers side will be identical. So, we still plan on replacing the seats with 25 pound equivalents. Just not installed yet.
So, uncertain if any of these make power. Mostly just weight savings in disguise. But, we've thrown some bolt-on bits at the car.
For the intake, I just ordered the eBay intake kit that Jimmy dyno-ed last year. I replaced the restrictive silicon elbow from the eBay kit with a nice smooth one that I found on Amazon, and we stuck this gigantic 6" filter with a velocity stack on the end. (found from BPI - BPI Performance Velocity Stacks) Supposedly Honda guys have used similar and seen gains. Figured anything that helps the top end breathe better might be worth a shot. Plan is to do some dyno shootouts with the intake bits to see if this actually makes any difference. For now, bigger must be better! Also, the intake saves 9 pounds off the stock system!
For exhaust, I ordered an OBX header off eBay. Watch out because the one I received was mild steel that was painted despite being advertised as stainless -- I believe there may be two versions floating around, so look carefully. After getting a 100-cell cat from a race shop and discovering the 13 inches of packaging was too long to fit the exhaust bends under the engine and over the subframe, we settled on a more readily available Magnaflow 2.5" 200-cell cat from Summit. It weighs 2.2 pounds and easily fits at the flange right after the header. I was also concerned about how loud the car might get, so we installed a reasonably packaged Magnaflow HP-2 muffler that weighed in at 6.6 pounds. Heavier than needed maybe, but I really don't want an obnoxious car. End result is a car that sounds pretty good actually, and will almost certainly have no issues meeting sound. Other than having to tap rusted head studs, not a bad project. Also, this shaved about 10 pounds from the car. The car does feel reasonably peppy with all these bits installed, so likely they do something even if the gains aren't massive or optimized yet.
ECU is stock for now. Have a Greddy eManage and just putting together the wiring harness so we can do some dyno tuning. We'll probably advance timing at the distributor as well, but really hoping to do some work with the rev limiter and try to reduce the gearing issues Mk2's typically deal with.
Getting lengthy, so I will post our first event results separately. Stay tuned!
We had our first event this past weekend (yes on Easter!). And, despite some "old car gremlins" creeping up, things went surprisingly well for our first time out.
The muffler hanger that was welded up snapped, the air intake hanger from the cheap eBay kit snapped, and a coolant line on the back of the motor began to leak. I thought we were going to have to hang it up about an hour into the day. However, with three trips to O'Reillys and AutoZone (all different ones so the staff wouldn't think we were idiots), a few zip ties and exhaust hangers, and some JB Weld, all of those issues we resolved just in time to run. Remarkably the JB weld on the coolant hard line held up perfectly!
So, given that this was the first event in the car, I was nervous about how the car might handle. Was pretty sure our stab in the dark estimates would be off no matter what experience and math they were based on, because I've just never done it on the MR2 yet. In this regard we were quite surprised! Despite some hiccups and minor quirks here and there, the overall balance of the car feels quite good! The corner exit push isn't as pronounced as the stock version, and wheelspin is reasonable. Overall grip seems high. Acceleration was solid. Just lots of good starting points, so we had to get to work seeing what might be improved.
We started at 30psi on the Bridgestones and adjusted up and down from there throughout the weekend. As we moved upward to 32 or 34 the front end started to feel less confident and would skate more in transitions. Lowering to 28 and 26 didn't net time on the clock. However, we started to get the most confidence and results as we transitioned to 30psi in the front and 26 in the rear. This 30/26 split was putting down power better than previously while still maintaining high degrees of confidence in transitions. For now, we're going to use that as a baseline for future testing.
There are still two things I can say I've noticed a bit. We sometimes get a feeling that the car is slow in transitions as if just a bit too much throttle is causing the front to slide, but not in direct proportion to the grip level up to that point. Perhaps a consequence of the sway bar or just that we haven't optimized the shocks yet. We'll see as things continue to develop. It started to get better as the day wore on, but wasn't always predictable. The other behavior is that the rear sometimes has a bit of a feeling of hop while applying power at corner exit. Never uncontrollable, but just a sensation that maybe we could get the shocks settled in to generate less wheelspin or limit the bouncing even more.
I used some of AlexW's shock dynos to give us a ballpark estimate of where to start based on some loose guesses on 65% critical with the weight and spring rates for our car. This led to using 1.5 turns of rebound and 2 clicks of compression up front (measured from full soft) and 1.75 turns of rebound and 3 clicks of compression in the rear. The only shock adjustment we tried in response to the hopping was lowering rear rebound one half turn, but neither of us liked the change's feel, and we went back to the 1.75 for now. With more runs, I think we may try another bump of compression in the rear and see where that gets us.
As for the results? Well, we're fortunate in Milwaukee to have a large group of STS competitors from ours and the surrounding regions. I believe there were at least 6 STS trophy winners in STS cars if I include myself and Andy. In the first half of the day, we were both about .15 seconds behind the top STS car on raw time (I coned of course! :) ). Second half of the day we kept working and went faster. Andy dropped time while I struggled to drive all the elements of the course to full potential, but in the end the car missed index by only .3 seconds to Adam Barber who finished 3rd last year in Andy Hollis' former STS Civic. Great car and great driving by him and many others. Adam also coned away another .2 seconds (with 5 cones) on his last run. ;)
Overall, we couldn't be happier with this kind of result right out of the gates. There's still some good bits of prep left, and we're just scratching the surface of what to do with tires and knobs. We were also on older tires that may or may not leave something to be desired. Those are not meant to be excuses, but just to build the case that this was a successful start to this experiment. I'd encourage others with MR2's who might think STS is a dead cause for them that it may not be. Even without a win, we were able to be highly competitive, and the low expectations of the car in this class made it quite easy to have fun. Mission accomplished.
We'll hopefully get some video and data hooked up as we get further into the build. We spent a good chunk of the post-winter blitz fixing ball joints and stuck calipers to get ready, so more to come!
Looking forward to reading more about your progress. I was really close to buying this car from you when it was for sale. Glad to see you are putting it to good use now.
Finished event #2 in the car yesterday. Relatively nice mid-50's temperatures on a bumpy asphalt lot. We were the only STS competitors for the day, so not as much in the way of direct benchmarks. However, my co-driver did manage to capture first on index in the 80-person field with some pretty good Chicago region competition present, while I was .357 out in 4th place. Not too bad for where we're at and a useful day for trying some new stuff.
The biggest draw for the day was to scrub in some new BFG Rival S 1.5's in a 225/45/15. They took about 4 runs to scrub in and times got better after that point. After that we settled in at the same 30f/26r pressures that we used on the Bridgestones, and that seemed to be a pretty good point in terms of rollover and times after going up and down a bit. The tires slide a little more than the re-71r's, but they definitely feel a lot more responsive/communicative than the old Rivals did. Not sure which is faster until we get a day to test head to head, but they didn't suck and didn't rub. Mission accomplished there. The Rivals didn't launch as well as the Bridgestones, but uncertain how much of that was the gravely lot, so holding off the verdict. As for tire wear, 20 runs during the day and the Rivals looked very evenly used across the whole surface of the tire, and the outside edge wear was much less than the stock suspension car. The rear with only -3 degrees does look like it may wear the outer edge just a touch more, so something we will keep an eye on.
We tried some shock changes bumping front compression to 3 clicks from soft to combat a little bit of corner entry oversteer. May have helped a little, but wanted to see if I could make it a little more confident so also took the rear rebound from 1.75 turns off soft down to 1 turn. That glued the rear down pretty well, but maybe a little too much. Only tried it for one run. It had the intended consequence, but not sure if the results will be faster without spending a little more time adjusting to it. The shocks do seem to affect the handling in noticeable ways at least, so yay Koni.
Newest modification was putting poly engine mount inserts in just prior to the event. Found that the front mount was ripped completely through. The only hiccup/hold up for install was figuring out that there's a metal collar inside the rear mount that needs to be pounded out in order to fit the insert properly. Otherwise, actually a pretty nice modification. Vibration really isn't too objectionable. Although my car "naturally" idles at 1500 rpm, so that may mask the issues others mentioned. Plus, it's a race car, so who cares? :P
The new lithium ion battery is back in. Seats are in progress hopefully. Getting the weight down where we can bit by bit.
The biggest things to be worked on next are addressing how bouncy the car was on the washboard lot and working on the rev limiter. So, up next will be getting our eManage wired up and potentially either shortening the bump stops or raising the car a touch. My suspicion is that the front end gets into the bump stops during hard cornering with the right amount of bumpiness in the surface, and that's what's causing the vague momentary losses of steering in some transitions as well as some bouncing around. It could be geometry to some extent, but I'm guessing bump stops is the primary culprit.
Anyway, hope this is interesting or useful to someone. Good luck to all the MR2's still out there. :)
Nice results! Glad the suspension seems to be working for you.
Your coilovers are pretty similar to what I run on my own car, although your rear springs are 100lb stiffer. I don't know how low you are, but on my car I don't even come close to the bump stops. I actually bottom out tire on chassis before hitting the bump stops, so I think I should put some thicker ones in. Granted your tires are a lot smaller diameter so it's possible you are a lot lower than me. Easy to check though, just put a zip tie around the strut shaft and see how high it gets pushed up after a run.
I have had the bouncy issue as well, and found the solution to be rebound damping. I run mine at 1.75 turns front and 2 turns rear, and that seems to pretty much take care of it.
Thanks Alex! Yeah, I think the zip tie test will be done on my first run at our next event. Maybe I'll try some front rebound adjustments as well, since I only estimated our starting settings using the shock dynos from your old Koni thread. (Best guesses, 65% critical, Internet conjecture, ymmv, etc. :P) What you're saying about rebound could definitely ring true just based on the high frequencies up front. For now we may end up having to balance the required high speed damping with any corner exit understeer that the extra low speed might cause. (At least short of attempting to have them re-valved!)
We dumped the car to the bottom of the threaded perches when we started, and that's where I lost the fender liner on the freeway. I think we're in the 4-5 threads up range now. I haven't measured any of the usual ride height measurements yet, but general impression is that it's pretty slammed.
Got our last event in to prepare for Spring Nationals as it rapidly approaches this Friday, and I have a few other setup notes or discoveries to share.
So, we got a chance locally (Miller Park in Milwaukee - aging asphalt; mostly in decent shape save a few breaking spots) to test 205/50/15 Bridgestone Re-71r's from the end of last season against the 225/45/15 BFG Rival S 1.5's that we used at one event previously. It was not a rigorous scientific test, and we didn't do ABA testing. Don't take this as gospel, *especially* because we're not testing new tires against new tires. However, doing morning runs (60-ish degrees with partial cloud cover; mostly sunny) on the Bridgestones and then afternoon runs (55-ish degrees, very cloudy, chilly wind) on BFG's:
- The BFG's definitely took at least one or two runs to get up to speed in these conditions. Pretty skate-y.
- The BFG's were about .6 seconds faster on a 65 second course
- The Bridgestones seemed to have better longitudinal grip from the line at first, but the BFG's were better at putting down power on exit.
- The tire wear on the BFG's still looks exceptionally good at this point. The Bridgestones looked a bit more beat up after the event. Again, not new-to-new comparisons though.
There is another confounding factor, however. On his second run of the afternoon, we upped the rear compression for my co-driver by a click to see if it would reduce corner exit push a little more. That change took the car from pretty good to awesome in a lot of ways. The front and rear ends started working in unison... Corner exits were more authoritative/less vague, and there was no negative trade off we observed. It could still be the tires had come up to temp, but it didn't just seem like the tires were tremendously warm. There was a sudden and noticeable increase in confidence going into and out of corners, and the times immediately started showing it. I would have liked to see what results we might have gotten going back to Bridgestones with this setup tweak, but ran out of runs for now.
So, not that these things will directly translate for others in a meaningful way (dyno your shocks if you can!), but our current setup is 1.5 turns off soft for rebound up front and 3 clicks of compression, 1.75 turns of reboot off soft in the rear with 4 clicks of compression. We have a test and tune in June and will hopefully have time there to probe the adjuster ranges a bit further.
Also, the bounciness we observed at the previous event didn't surface at all yesterday, so that's good news. Will still continue to keep an eye out for causes and solutions. In that vein, we checked travel on the front and rear shocks, and at our current ride heigh, we are nowhere near getting to the bump stops. I'll make some mental notes to try to measure our approximate ride heights at some point.
We attempted to get our new race seat installed before the event but ran out of time in the morning. Hopefully will get it on before the trip to Spring Nats!
The results for the event were somewhat abnormal; however, I'll continue to share anyway just so people get a general sense of the car's capability and progress. This was a course that had 2 or 3 "pin" turns that were exceptionally tight as well as accompanying extended acceleration zones that had us at the rev limiter for medium stretches. This combination helped a SS GTR driver to win index by almost 1 second, because the car just had tons of digging power to rip around the course. You can't do much but tip your cap on a day like that. However, with the weight on the rear, the MR2 also digs pretty well out of those corners, and we were able to take a 2-3 finish ahead of several good drivers in competitive cars. Throwing all the places out the window for a minute, I think the primary observation to be made here is that the MR2 clearly can be competitive. Maybe that's only on local lots. Maybe it will be better on asphalt than concrete. Maybe we've just caught some good luck in the early season. But, so far I'm extremely happy with the way the car is developing and the fun we're having. And, this is still so early. Will post some recaps of Spring Nats when we get the big show out of the way. Really looking forward to getting an early chance to measure up to some really high level STS competitors, and hope that some of this info will continue to be useful for others as well.
Good luck to everyone still using the venerable OC! :wink2:
Spring Nats update:
Well, we had quite an event-filled weekend doing the Lincoln ProSolo and Champ Tour (a.k.a. Spring Nationals) this past weekend. Rather than give a big load of details, let's just say we learned a lot.
First off, the rev limiter situation has to be taken care of, and we have to find a way to build confidence in how the car handles in third gear. Every course all weekend demanded 2+ upshifts and downshifts whereas we might have been able to avoid some of that with 4 or 5 more mph in 2nd gear. If anyone has ideas about how high you can safely-ish rev a 5sfe, let me know. Otherwise, we may have to settle for diminished acceleration on 17" tires.
Second, the car is a great ProSolo car in STS as-is. It launches and accelerates as well or better than just about anything else in the class. The shifting made us work hard, but if we had cleaned things up and avoided red lights, both of us had the pace to get second place. (Cones plagued a few others as well, so obviously no guarantees.) Bench racing just a touch, if we had the rev limit bumped, we might have stood a shot at winning. So, encouraging results overall.
Third, we break a lot of stuff on this car. On the practice course, the bolts backed out of the rear motor mount. Before final runs of the first Tour day we lost power steering. When we fixed the power steering, I noticed some clunking in the front right and discovered the shock is moving or flexing within the strut body. Couldn't isolate it or get it fixed. After packing up the broken car, I removed our magnets, and big chunks of magnetic material remained glued to the body... Just one thing after another to the point I didn't even run on Monday. Couldn't really concentrate on much other than wanting to fix all this junk rather than jump a ride in a different car. We'll get there, but reliability has to be on my radar in the future. Plus getting a few tools to help us better deal with the struts and other potential failures.
The car's pace is definitely in the ballpark, though we will need to work hard to get it there. We coned all the good runs unfortunately, so results aren't going to look mind-blowing (6th and 10th at Pro out of 20, 7th and DNS for the Tour) but I think we can still improve quite a bit, so going to keep working at it!
The STS journey finally continues! With all four struts intact (thanks Alex!) we were able to get the car back out to autocross this past weekend with both a test and tune and local event. Overall I think we learned some interesting things...
So, the big thing we wanted to try this weekend was testing a 225/45/17 on the rear against our previous 225/45/15 setup, both using BFG Rival 1.5's. The taller rear tire should take us from topping out around 53mph to somewhere in the 57-58 mph range. This comes after the discussion from our previous Spring Nationals experience of needing some taller gearing in certain situations, especially on the bigger Lincoln courses. I've always been afraid that the loss of acceleration from the taller tire would be a non-starter. However, on our test course, the 17's were just as fast or faster than the 15" tire. Given that we can get the taller tire that close on a local course and also not have as much course dependency/shifting necessity on the larger courses, I think we've found our STS rear tire going forward.
We also tested our shocks across the adjustment range. Compared to our previous results, we found things quite different than I was expecting. Rather than needing to go stiffer, we found that at full soft the suspension felt a lot more like it was really "working". Very stiff settings, as expected, felt pretty good but high compression especially would cause the car not to go as fast. Rear rebound increased wheelspin as it was increased, so we settled on .5 turn from full soft being fastest on the clock. In the front, we settled in at only 1 turn from full soft on rebound, and 3-5 clicks of compression. I went fastest and liked the feel of 5 clicks of compression, but co-driver like 3 clicks. Not sure we finalized a decision there yet.
The only hiccup of note (other than a head stud being stripped and causing what sounds like a small exhaust leak) is that the bounciness over bumps is still present and seems more pronounced in the warmer weather or at least on the courses from this weekend. This has contributed to some weird "ice mode" situations with braking zones that aren't perfectly straight. Presumably the inside front is picking up, and the ABS system is then freaking out. It causes the brakes to be somewhat inconsistent, and we're scratching our heads at how to fix it. Contemplating going to a smaller sway bar or disconnecting the ABS fuse. Maybe going back to less aggressive stock pads. There has to be a cause for the bounciness up front, but I will say that we were getting some amount of it at every shock setting we tried. Going to have to jack the car up and look for any signs of interference or binding, because it almost feels like we're moving in that direction. We'll see.
Anyway, the Sunday results at the event were decent. Raw times for co-driver and I were .3 and .6 seconds off of one of the best STS cars in the country. (I managed to cone away mine, hence the "raw times".) Still improving, and I think we're getting there. Just ironing out all the kinks... and there have been quite a few! Given that this was remarkably only around our 6th event in the car I still feel like there's some hope here. :)
Today's update from our last event is a brief one. Four launches into the event we completely destroyed the transmission! We did try disconnecting the ABS for two runs and both could not get the car to brake nearly well enough without it. However before we could try other solutions to our ABS weirdness or try to tame the bounciness again, there was a loud metallic bang followed by crunching.
So, I'm on the lookout for a >93 n/a transmission if anyone knows of a spare in good shape. Probably need to do the clutch, flywheel, axles. May even do the timing belt if we drop everything out. Not sure yet. Big scramble to see if we can get the car ready for an event in two weeks let alone with Nationals coming up.
I have never had so much mechanical bad luck as I have with this car, especially this year! Contemplating going to ASP with the car just because at least then we'd have a fast car that's broken all the time. :)
Transmission is swapped, and we're going to make Nationals. Definitely hoped we'd have more done with the car, but given the setbacks we've had mechanically this year, things are still going fine. Hopefully we don't get waxed too badly in a giant STS class out there! Not sure how many people on the board are still going to Nationals, but I'll keep a lookout out there. Good luck and safe travels to anyone else making the trip!
Glad to see you made it out there this year. Sucks with the mechanical issues. Looks like a pretty impressive showing today! Best of luck tomorrow, rooting for you guys! I decided not to make my way out there this year. Maybe I'll bring the MR2 out again sometime, with 17's...
Good job keeping the SW20 relevant in Solo! It looked great out there, what little I could make out from working the opposite course. :)
Thanks guys! Hope to see you out there some time, Jimmy! If the grid conversations are to be believed, there will be like 4 more of them next year as well. It was funny how many people talked to us afterward and said they wanted to build one. Great fun!
Man, I can't believe I've been home for two weeks and haven't done any sort of recap already!
So, yeah... Nationals was... pretty amazing all told. We started out over on the practice course trying to scrub in some brand new BFG's for the fronts. This was also our first time on the Lincoln concrete with the 225/45/17's on the rear, so we wanted to get a feel for it. At first the results were pretty underwhelming, with everything just feeling lazy to react and a little pushy. Probably somewhat expected with the larger rear diameter leading to less wheelspin. We were scratching our heads as to whether we were screwed needing to wear in the fronts more or if it was the 17's. In the second session we tried bumping the rear compression a click, and the car went from mundane to holy-eff-buckle-up-and-mat-the-throttle-everywhere-this-is-awesome. Still amazed that a single click made so much difference, but both Andy and I thought it was like driving a different car.
Coming into Nationals competition we felt pretty confident that we had put the car in the best shape we could to do well. Unfortunately I was the second car on the course in first heat, so I knew that I was likely to struggle as the course cleaned up. There were dust clouds pouring out everywhere, so much that it looked like the car was broken. And, to add extra challenge, I left the parking brake on as I started my second run (which proved to be my fastest). Didn't get it turned off until 20 seconds into the course. So, overall I was pretty disappointed with my driving on day 1 and was sitting like 20th. Too cautious and careless. But, playing the good teammate is important, too, so I tried to stay positive, and Andy didn't disappoint. Taking advantage of the second driver position, he put the car solidly into 4th place and just under two tenths out of the lead.
On day 2, I knew that I was still up against a wall as the second car out again, but I had nothing to lose, which is always a much easier spot to be in mentally. As such, I was able to put up the 8th fastest time of the day and surprise myself clawing back to the "coveted" 12th trophy spot. (I had no business being in the trophies and never checked, so it was a total surprise to see the results afterward.) As for Andy, on his last run he was the first of the second drivers to go, and he was able to put the car momentarily in the lead. I was out of my mind jumping around thinking "OMG this might actually happen!". However, Ron Williams and David Whitener both edged him by less than a tenth on their last runs at the end of the group. LESS THAN A TENTH! Considering where we started with this being an experimental/take-it-easy season, that's insane! And considering we were flat on the limiter for the last 15 seconds of the East course, getting a tune and raising the limiter might certainly have found a tenth... Wow.
So, yeah, the SW20 is alive and well in STS. (Which is a great class full of great people, by the way!) There was even some ribbing in grid that the car was too fast too soon in its development and wanting to see it bounced from the class. But, almost everyone we talked to was surprised/impressed and really happy to see more variety of cars. People should realize by now that Andy is stupidly fast and takes chances that others often won't, so it still takes a hell of a drive and driver to get the car to where it was. We don't know if he wouldn't be a second faster in a Miata. All I know is that the MR2 is capable of being in the mix, which is the whole fun of doing the underdog car thing.
All told we finished 3rd and 12th. I laid a giant egg on the first day. But, in the end, an underprepped MR2 that was 590 pounds heavier than the lightest STS car managed to take 17% of the trophies home. And, it felt like we won.
Very nice! 3rd / 12th is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Do you have any good pictures of the car on course? (any event would be fine, doesn't have to be nationals). I would love to post about this on my Facebook page (with your permission of course), and pictures always make that better!
Alex, you are definitely more than welcome to post about it on Facebook! If you have any stickers for Wilhelm Raceworks, I'll be glad to get them on the car, too. Anyone who's asked, I've pointed them toward the OC thread here and your site. :thumbup
If you're okay with other people's photos, there are a few pictures on the GotCone site from Nationals: 2017 SCCA Solo National Championships » STS: GotCone Autocross & Rallycross Photos
Good example of the inside front wheel starting to lift:
2017 SCCA Solo National Championships » STS » 3g7a8099.jpg: GotCone Autocross & Rallycross Photos
I like this one personally:
2017 SCCA Solo National Championships » STS » 3g7a1362.jpg: GotCone Autocross & Rallycross Photos
If you'd rather have something original, I'll have to hunt through the early season and see if I have a few from on course. (Edit: Found and attached one.)
The coilovers have been great. We might try softening the springs up at some point here just to see if it tames down some of the bumps. Overall we've been pretty happy with the balance at 550/800 though.
Great writeup Chris. I'm glad to hear of the success with the car this year! Great driving on both your parts. Hope you guys continue development and get even faster... I would also be very impressed to see that many more MK2's out there next year...
Wow, rev limit for 15s at the end of the run, even on the 17's? Could have just shifted, ya know ;) Any videos??
Hey Jimmy. Thanks! Yeah, we talked afterward that shifting through the finish might have been just enough, but it was tough because we were right at the limit through the final three elements where we might not have been going much faster through any given one. Then again, just a little more speed between them... who knows? It would have been tougher in 3rd for sure though!
We didn't get videos this year unfortunately. Had the camera down there, but we forgot it in paddock each day. Going to try to make a better habit of it going forward...
Noticed you guys were in ES this year and not the STS car. Don't tell me you've given up on it?!
Haven't given up! We tried some softer springs a couple weeks before Nats to try and fix the bouncing/pogo-ing we were getting and some of the ABS freak outs that result. The results were kind of mixed and we decided that with only three events locally before Nats we just wouldn't get enough run time to try to sort things out. The bounciness improved dramatically, but the car was a little laggy in transitions (to be expected)... In the end we did ok, but it was tough to say if the car got slower or not. In the rain it absolutely crushed index, but in the dry it was a little further off pace than we expected at a pair of local events. So, long story short, the already prepped ES car seemed like a good idea on short notice, and we'll be spending more time here at the end of the year and start of next year to see what we can do with it. Definitely unfinished business out there!
There was another Mk2 in ASP this year, but I didn't think it was yours. You still have the red car? STR was brutal this year! Probably fun on those courses though!
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