I hate when I realize that I’m not yet a master. Here I was… so ready to move on to something else, or somewhere else… and yet it’s clear I have so much more to achieve with my boring C-Street ZN6. The Canadian National Autoslalom Championship (CNAC) was last weekend. It was not a great autocross weekend, but it was a great competition weekend… and now it feels like the 2015 season is essentially over. I won’t go to Lincoln. I’ll study up for at least one more year before making that trip.
Not that the results at CNAC were terrible…
- Over the course of the weekend, of 7 FT86 entrants, I was second fastest. Only three of those entrants were in Street class like me. The guy who beat me, was not in Street class. On the second day of competition, I was the fastest FT86… period.
- Of the 46 Solo classes, CS is deemed to be only the 36th fastest of those classes. Of 88 competitors in all classes, I was the 24th fastest despite being in a “slow” car. No one in a class slower than CS posted a better time than me.
- Indexing times, I placed 8th out of 88 but…
- Our long lost friend Ryan in a borrowed CS prepared 350Z smashed me by a little more than 1 second each day, and made me second place out of six in CS. 1 second per day is a gigantic gap. Ryan PAX’ed second over all at the event.
- My target was top PAX, and seven people beat me. The gap was not small.
You may or may not remember, but when I first auto-xed this car, I thought it was a dream. Minus a lack of grunt, the car was communicative, easy to place and generally forgiving. After a year of auto-x though, and my familiarity with the car grows, I have a complaints that go beyond power output… but I think they are somethings I should learn to work around.
It doesn’t feel as nimble as it once did. Maybe not having to drive a WRX, or a real race car with the engine in the wrong place has spoiled me, but now the FRS feels stiff, awkward. In quick transition I feel like the car is easily unsettled. At low speeds it hates to rotate. At high speeds it wants to go backwards. Originally, I felt like I was tossing the car around. Recently it has felt more like the car is driving me. To combat this, I think I’m going to go back to maximum stiff on the front sway bar, and then maybe get aggressive with toe settings. My current alignment is quite conservative as I’ve been road tripping to and from events: 3mm toe in out back, 2mm of toe out up front.
The biggest improvement however, will have to come from my driving. Being early early early on the gas is a constant reminder. This is always an obvious issue laggy turbocharged cars, but it’s a pretty big deal when there is only 120lbft of torque as well. I also delude myself into thinking that because the car is on the edge and moving around, that I am going fast. More relaxed runs where I focus on precise car placement always end up with better times and make me much more consistent. Most of all, I struggle to look far enough ahead… driving one element at a time leads to wonky lines and poor judgement of speed. “Look ahead” is what I tell myself the first every time things aren’t going well, but it is probably still, the skill that I execute the poorest.
So coilovers, buckets, headers and big wide shoes would make owning the car a lot more interesting, and might even make driving the car a lot easier… but smashing modified cars with a stock one is tremendously rewarding, and when I do fail, it’s quite refreshing not being able to blame spring rates and tunes, or a long list of legal modifications that haven’t been completed to the full extent.
One day I’ll have a hard tune car… but it looks like that day is at least 365 more days away.
Thanks Ian and Joe for the pictures.
Andrew suffered a worse fate than me at CNAC weekend… but I’ll let him speak for himself.