About halfway through the season now events wise, and a little over run wise. Thought it’d be a good time to break down what I’ve done this first of the year, and changes if any looking forward.
With the inclusion of the RE71Rs and a handful of newly competitive drivers in the STL region, the Mini has actually fallen back from where it once was. The Mini’s index (HS) did not get a real boost this year, with the expectation that the inclusion of the Fiesta ST would speed up HS and become the car to have. Fortunately for me, this has not really been the case. The Mini has continued to impress, and with the exclusion of prosolo has still been the dominant car in HS. Not only that, the Fiesta ST seems to have a genuine risk/possibility of rolling over on it’s side – while the SCCA will probably continue to allow the car to compete, it is not the overdog that everyone assumed it would be. Regardless, with the Mini still on RS3s from last summer (1 year old, 170+ runs now), I cannot keep up with the competition. My early runs are my fastest and I quickly start to scrub when the tires generate any amount of heat. While I could be irresponsible and splurg on the latest and greatest RE71Rs, I am somewhat enjoying driving the car with an “uncompetitive” setup.
Ironically, my last few events have been my best so far relatively speaking, even as the tires continue to wear down and lose grip. I think I am adapting well to the lack of grip and possibly instinctively learning as I go, even though the numbers don’t show it. It’s possible I don’t win my class this year, or even make top 20 in index (!) but I am certain I’m improving as a driver. How my tires currently are, I wouldn’t be surprised if the RE71Rs netted me literally 1 full second. With that in mind, I plan to ride out the rest of the year on these tires, continuing to learn, adapt, and grow faster.
Likewise with the Evo, I plan to stay on these tires. These tires (Z1ss) may be in even worse condition than the Mini’s, as they are going on 3-4 years old now with many miles on them, and a decent number of runs. The Evo and I also suffered a raw-time loss at the hands of my friend’s K24 CTR, though later I found out something interesting about the Z1ss: midway through the tire’s wear, the compound actually changes to some super hard compound that has no grip at all. This explains the overall lack of grip I feel from these tires, and for this car too I plan to throw on RE71Rs at the start of next year. It’s found its home in STU, and I can’t wait to compete more regularly in it.
As I’d expected, all the racing I’ve been doing in the Mini has somewhat carried over into the Evo. The power differential was difficult at first but easy to get used to now, and I have a good general feel for the car. It’s difficult to drive with more power with the little grip I have, but the AWD helps, and driving the Mini so much has given me a good sense of how I want the Evo to behave dynamically. I’m really happy with the setup now and looking forward to added grip. I’ve gotten a solid number of runs in with the Evo so far, and as I continue to get more comfortable in the car I’m sure the time will keep dropping.
Earlier in the year I posited racing both cars would help me identify more weaknesses and strengths between them, and actually help me get faster in both cars. I think this has been true to an extent. The biggest weapon the Evo has compared to the Mini is obviously its acceleration. Additionally, I can get on the throttle much earlier in the Evo and really dig out of corners with the AWD. As far as weaknesses go, there’s not a lot to speak of. The car can build enough speed to get itself in trouble, and whether it will understeer or oversteer depends on the situation. I always walk away feeling like it could use more grip, but given the tires that’s true anyway. The Mini on the other hand, is pure momentum. Biggest strength is carrying speed through corners, slaloms, etc, and being able to stay WOT a lot longer than other cars. I can usually get away with lifting or light braking. The problem is when there are tight corners with big low speed digs leading to big straights after. The Mini really loses out on power courses with tight corners, but really shines on technical courses. My nats codriver from last year said rather than trying to improve a car’s weakness, it’s better to make it’s strengths shine, and from what I’ve seen that’s good advice. This year may be a difficult one for me, but I remember reading a lot of times drivers learn the most when driving an uncompetitive car. Once next year starts, the first thing I’ll do is throw on RE71Rs and start shooting for top 10 once again!