The wait is finally over. This weekend was the start of what I’d been waiting for since the end of September, through the bitter cold, all the parts ordered and installed!
First event of the year was a bit of a cold one – probably never broke 40 degrees, and I ran during the first heat. Fortunately enough for me, I had a very very talented codriver that day to help keep the tires warm and show me the ropes a little on my car (thanks Dan!). So, the first event, in the cold, brand new tires and a brand new suspension.
Moment of truth, and the car was outstanding. I don’t know if part of it was due to how cold it was outside, but the r56hs mini was amazing. I never anticipated for the car to be as neutral as it was. It had the perfect range of behaviors, never pushed (unless with totally overcooking/bad driving), was neutral throughout, and a ton of easy to modulate throttle-lift oversteer. This car handles amazing. I’m immensely satisfied with the balance of the car. My codriver actually said he thought it’d be a little too loose when he heard that I set the bar to the middle setting (~3x stiffer than stock), but he said the car was perfect, and no changes needed. I have no doubt here the FCM shocks are really helping control the car, keeping everything planted/hard to upset.
My codriver, a Nats trophy winner, placed 8th in PAX – for me, I was about a full second or so behind, and ultimately landed 14th in PAX. This is probably the best I’ve ever done at one of Rantoul’s events. They have a good, talented group of drivers out there, and as always, it’s crowded at the top. We decided for Sunday’s test ‘n tune that no changes would have to be made regarding the suspension set up – just experimentation with tire pressures. Overall, I’m ecstatic with the new setup on the mini, ecstatic that no changes need to be made and that all I need to do now is work on my driving!
Results found here.
Video of the Fastest Run. Might want to mute sound, working on a solution for the wind noise.
Rantoul PAX position: 14 (record)
Gateway Test ‘n Tune 3/30/2014
Having no autocross for about 5-6 months and then jumping on two in one weekend was not easy! Sunday was the test ‘n tune back in St. Louis, and it was a gorgeous day, especially in comparison to Saturday, getting into the high 50s by the afternoon. This was a very simple course, designed to put our cars through a variety of situations to make sure it was doing exactly what we wanted it to do. While this is not an official points event, you can bet people are paying close attention to each others’ times.
Again, to my satisfaction, the mini handled beautifully. The surface was on asphalt, and dirty asphalt at that, so the grip was nothing compared to Rantoul – but the overall balance of the car remained the same, perfectly neutral with a hint of throttle lift oversteer. This really helped me get around some of the sweepers with ease. It’s worth mentioning that there were some fairly rough/cracked/bumpy areas in the back section of the course, which were an excellent test for the dampers. The damping is not only on the money, but it is also getting better as they get “broken in” a little. It eats up imperfections in the road with total ease. The dampers, and the entire suspension set up is really amazing. I’ll probably make a separate post to reiterate specific things about the FCM Bilsteins that I am enjoying. I ended the day with a 36.995 as my quickest time, and I think that’s probably as far as I could go with my current skill level. I believe 34.4 was the fastest raw time of the day, so I wasn’t too far behind. The points events will tell exactly where I am in my driving.
Again, probably a good idea to mute sound.
The only frustrating part about these last two events is how poor my driving is. All of my driver inputs are abrupt and terrible. Steering, throttle, and braking all need major work. The lines I’m taking need work. I need to turn in sooner and more smoothly. And I need to learn where I can go faster, where I’m backing when I can keep going full throttle, what spots where I’m losing time, etc. There’s a lot of time to work on these this year though, so I am looking forward to it! Overall, a great start to the season!
Run Count: 24