It’s spring, and my fourth season with the FR-S begins… The fact that I’m still driving the car seems amazing in itself. When I bought the car I planned on keeping it forever, but I sure as hell didn’t plan on keeping it stock.
As it is though, it has largely impressed and I have seen little need to spend money just to fit in with other twin owners. My original intention was auto-x it seriously, driving in street class for a year or two until I had been reminded how to drive, and then move on to STX or CSP or other “faster” class. Instead I’m finding that the car has more to teach me than I can absorb, even four years later. As a tool for competition, and driver development, there is very little reason to change.
But I get bored… and the introduction of the ND Miata to CS has motivated me to move the car a little closer to full prep for this season. By the end of 2016, competition was pretty hot at local events, and some old drivers in new ND Miata’s for 2017 should make for some great competition at coming events. I could escape them, moving down to DS by removing my TRD parts like many other FRS owners have done, but I can’t stomach what feels like a backwards, chicken shit move. I may feel differently when I fall OTB over and over again.
The car now sits on Koni Sport dampers. In general, I loath Koni parts because of the home-made feel that comes with them. They break often, generally fit terribly, and look like they were painted by a five-year old in a rain storm. However, when it comes to an affordable, adjustable damper, nothing else comes close in terms of performance. I installed the dampers in a single evening over multiple beers, and the whole while debated whether or not adjustability was really worth sacrificing the warm clean feeling that Bilstein B6’s would have given me.
I probably should have tried the Japanese market Cusco Touring A shock which offers a less useful combined compression and rebound damping adjustment that Japanese companies seem so stuck on.
The Koni’s also, seem to have sacrificed some front camber. Previously at 1.5 degrees negative, I was now only able to get to about 1.25 degrees negative. The car was already front camber challenged, so my disappointment only grows. I’ll have to hope that shock tuning allows me to add more rear roll stiffness and lighten the work load of the front tires slightly to compensate. I’ll also drive the car for a while, and then put the ratchet straps back to work and see if I can get a few more tenths of a degree after everything settles.
At least rear camber isn’t affected by the rear shock change.
So final alignment numbers are:
Rear toe-out was something I introduced near the end of 2016, and is something that I don’t think any other street class twin has played with. I appreciated it… though if I do switch to a big rear bar, it likely won’t fly.
Also unconventionally, I’ve stepped down to 16″ wheels. The reasons here are several: (1) There are more interesting 16″ wheels on market, (2) tires are cheaper, (3) a taller sidewall should allow more efficient usage of the same width rubber on a lame 7″ wheel.
My first set of wheels are 1995 Enkei Racing RS-III’s. People used to comment that my Tecnocast Corsia’s were ugly. These take ugly to a whole new level. For an old modular wheel though, they are quite light at 6.9kg. Size is 16 7J +51, which with a 10mm spacer will give me the minimum allowable offset. I picked up some hubcentric spacers and some nice long ARP studs to go with them.
Tires are 225/50 RE-71R, and I’m hoping that Bridgestone did not improve the wear characteristics of the tire, because I imagine that I’ll be looking to move on to some more conventional looking wheels fast. The best excuse for buying new wheels… is buying new tires.
To accelerate tire wear, I am hoping to get out to more lapping days this year, in addition to regular solo events. With lapping in mind, I’ve installed some EBC yellow brake pads. EBC has always been recommended to me by some fairly smart people, but I’ve never used them until now. Hawk HP+ has always been my pad of choice… and they have been great, minus gobs of dust and annoying squeal. The FRS gets driven around town often, so I wanted something a bit more friendly.
Not friendly though, is that my cam plate leak, which disappeared for all of 2016, is back. Exposure to extreme cold seems to set it off… and that makes for frequent issues in Alberta. I had previously tried a Nameless CNC plate to solve the issue, but found that it only made things worse. This time I’ll likely try a RaceEng or Velox piece.
And as the season draws closer and closer, my excitement builds. I recently had the chance to drive a 991 GT3 at an event in Las Vegas. At that event I surprised myself by PAXing 1st overall out of 135 entrants. Once the local season fires up, and the FRS goes into action, it will be interesting to see how much of that pre-season result was the amazing car, how much of it was mediocre competition, and what small percentage of it was my awesome driving.