Monday, April 30, 2012

[4/29/2012] Shakedown (TMP)

Event: Open Lapping Day 
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather: 5°C Sunny (morning), 14°C Sunny (afternoon)

Glad I had a shakedown day to figure things out. Weather was great! Sunny all day, high of 14°C and some slightly gusty winds.

There are some things that need to be adjusted or fixed before the next track day:
Coilover right rear seat adjuster rubbing on Oswald brace
CV boot (repair actually held up!)

To bring next time:
Sunscreen! I'm a lobster

Driving Technique
I managed to bribe a very experienced driving instructor to come along with me and here were his comments on my driving:
  1. I'm using too much brakes. Instead of slamming on them 100% and upsetting the car, quickly work up to 80% a little earlier and roll off the brakes while turning in to the apex. He said that even during qualifying he doesn't use as much brakes as me. If I were in a real race I would cook them for sure. 
  2. Work on maintaining momentum through turns. By modulating the brakes better it should help reduce chopping too much entry speed.
  3. Apply throttle sooner on exits and use fast pedal/steering inputs to make corrections. Need higher actions per minute with all my limbs... must play more StarCraft! 
  4. Eyes need to be looking ahead to the apex ALL the time. Immediately after that start thinking about the next turn. Rinse and repeat. Never lose focus with the eyes, even if wonky shit is going on down below. Look at where you want to go and the car will follow. 
  5. Stop using the cones as reference points. Some of them are just wrong and you need to think for yourself on what the best approach is. I also heard that the cones at TMP might not even apply to cars as they mostly host bike/SOAR track days. 
  6. With my driving style I have a tendency to take too many late apexes (in general). Try to turn in shallower and use more of the curbing wherever possible. This will also help maintain momentum. Stop making up turns. Just because there's track width doesn't mean you have to use it. Try to keep going in a straight line with the biggest curves possible. 

Part Reviews
Oswald Subframe/Rear Triangle Braces
I had a lot more feedback through the steering wheel/seat while driving. I'm sure part of it is me becoming more in-tune with the car but more likely also due to the bracing. I can feel which end of the car is going to slide out a lot earlier than I used to and thus I'm able to make corrections sooner. I recovered from a pretty vicious AWD drift that was pretty surprising! Unfortunately the right rear strut top brace is contacting a small bur on my damper knob. Nobody had a file at the track to solve this stupid little issue! Wasted 30 minutes of track time figuring this out at the track. Gotta fix this one day.

Oswald/Antigravity Lightweight Stuff
Weight reduction makes a big difference. How big? Just by driving solo vs. with a 130 lb passenger I was able to cut 1 second off my lap time without changing my driving. I'm sure removing all that weight also made my brakes happier!

StopTech ST-40 Big Brake Kit / KFP Gold Pads
Lots of braking force up front. Their marketing states that the foreward bias is the same as stock but I feel that may not be true anymore after using them. The front gets a bit squirmy under hard braking but that's likely due to my technique as well (see above). Consistency is significantly improved. I now have confidence that I'll actually have brakes for the next turn! With the heavy braking due to my technique I was still only able to fade my KFP Gold pads just a little after about 4+ hot laps. Maybe I lost about 25% braking force but never more than that. The fade came on gradually and never caught me off guard like it did with my 4-pots, where it would just drop off a cliff. I just had to adjust my braking points a little and the fade would subside after a cool down Lap. Mind you this is on less grippy street tires vs. R-compounds last year, and on a 13°C day. I think the Roo Ducts would be the cherry on the top for braking consistency. I'm looking forward to reviewing them at my next TMP day.

JDM Spec-C V9 Seats
Way more bolstering than the stock WRX seats! My left leg didn't have any signs of cramping like it did last year and it's evident from my interior GoPro footage that the seat hugs my frame way better! The biggest downside to these seats, as with any other OEM seat, is the weight. They weigh around 50-60 lbs which is a TON compared to aftermarket buckets that weigh 10-15 lbs each. Although you do lose adjustability and side airbags which is pretty huge for a daily driver. Driving all day in them didn't tire out my back or legs like my old seats did. The 2.5 hour commute each way to TMP was much more bearable.

Falken FK-452 Tires (225/45/17)
Driving on my street tires was actually a lot of fun and I was able to learn a lot! Despite having less overall grip, the audible feedback was nice to have and they broke traction in a more gradual fashion than R-comps which tend to let go without much warning. The FK-452's performed much better than I was expecting. Sure they got a little greasy but only when pushing them really hard like 5+ laps. They didn't look melted afterwards like most street tires either! The downside is the howl like a banshee during regular driving now (mostly during braking). 

Other Comments 
  • I spent zero time playing with settings today. Dampers were +12F/R and tire pressures 38/33 psi F/R. The focus was on learning the line and practicing certain sections of the track one session at a time.
  • I noticed I was much more calm about driving this year. This is evident from my in-car footage. Last year I had a death grip on the steering wheel! This year I look a bit more relaxed. 
  • Putting in brake pads the day before and not having to swap tires at the track makes the day way more enjoyable! I think the minor wear from the commute is worth the hassle at the track.

Lap Times 
  • My best time last year was 1:28.44 on RA-1's 
  • Best lap times throughout sessions were: 1:28.45, 1:27.07, 1:26.95, 1:25.98, 1:25.28, and a new personal best of 1:24.21 on my final run without any passengers (see video) 


I'm looking forward to at least one more practice session before my first time attack. We'll see if I can get some laps in at SRTA #1 or maybe another regular open lapping day @ TMP.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Whiteline RCK & NV Auto Alignment

Whiteline Roll Center Adjustment Kit

This weekend I had my friend Ken help me install the Whiteline Roll Center Adjustment Kit on my car which I picked up from Touge Tuning a while back.

The roll center is an imaginary point in space around which the chassis rolls. This point is usually a couple inches off the ground on a stock car. Lowering the car on lowering springs or coilovers moves this roll center closer to the ground, or sometimes even beneath it (it's just an imaginary point in space, remember).
Having such a low roll center has the negative side effect of adding more body roll (think of a larger lever) and adding bump steer. Bump steer means that when the suspension is compressed and the wheels move upward, they will have a tendency to steer themselves outward (toe out). In other words it adds rolling understeer.

As you can see from the diagram above, the roll center is determined by the angles at which the lower control arms sit. The Whiteline RCK corrects this angle closer to the factory setting by providing longer ball joints and tie rod ends that force the control arm back into a parallel position to the ground.
After installing it the car will need an alignment. We tried to do one ourselves but failed miserably due to some seized bolts. With shakedown this weekend at TMP that meant I needed an alignment ASAP. My local shop, CanJam, was out all week testing so I decided to ask NV Auto considering their solid reputation.


Dov @ NV Auto was able to help me out and get me an alignment in less than 24 hours! I'm glad I found another reputable shop I can count on when I need something done. It was a bit of a drive out from east Markham but worth it in the end.

I decided to go with -3° front camber due to not having enough last year at -2°. I knew I didn't have enough -'ve camber by how my front tires were wearing relative to the rear. The outsides would wear down at a much faster rate than the inside of the tire, and I had to keep swapping them to the rear for the next track day. Tire temps also confirmed this by the outside of the tire consistently being 4-6° hotter than the inside after cool down lap. Finally, in some of my GoPro footage you can see the tire rolling over (and this was after installing 24mm front/rear swaybars).

They had to use camber bolts in the front to achieve the -3° because my camber plates were installed diagonally for the sake of caster. +6° caster ftw.

In the rear, I decided to stick with -1.5 degrees because tire wear and tire temps were even. Zero toe all around because I daily drive my car. 

Bdon's Track Tip: If you're trying to sort out your suspension, try to record as much information as you can after every session on the track. I wouldn't have known what alignment settings to start out with this year if I hadn't taken notes last year. Even if you don't have a tire pyrometer you can use GoPro footage or just visual cues from the wear marks. I've heard using chalk to mark the sides of the tires is also a good indicator. I'll upload my track data template for anyone to use once I find it... (EDIT: uploaded it!) 

Corner Weights
NV Auto threw my car on their scales just for the hell of it. I didn't have my car corner balanced there, just a regular alignment. Although I did have the car previously corner balanced at CanJam in 2010. The corner weights looked really good. The 3.2 lb Antigravity battery really helped even out the LF.

Total weight was 2987 lbs without driver, 3/8 fuel tank, full washer fluid, all the interior bits and my street wheels! I'm guessing without the back seats and my forged track rims on will be another ~50 lbs in savings. I secretly wanted my car to be under 3000 lbs this year with 1/2 tank of gas and in track trim, so I think I've definitely exceeded that goal! :D

Saturday, April 21, 2012

[4/21/2012] HANSON School (DDT)

Stopped by Mosport this morning to say hi to a few friends at the Hanson school. It makes me really happy to see Suby attendance WAY up this year!!! Good stuff guys, and gal :) I'm no longer the only one who wants to become a better driver!
Unfortunately some car problems for Razlin and my buddy Mike :( It's always heart breaking to see it happen, especially on Subys. Best of luck to you guys in fixing your cars and let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oswald Rear Bumper Beam

Jenny Craig on my Suby continued tonight with installation of the Oswald Rear Bumper Beam.

This install was a bit more of a PITA. The main annoyance was the charcoal canister getting in the way of one of the 17mm bumper bolts and having to undo a ton of things like the tail lamps, license plate harness, etc. There are even some rivets you need to drill out but "luckily" my rear end got smashed a few years ago and the idiot truck driver actually saved me some work; none of the rivets were left on my car lol.

The rear bumper beam weighs 7 lbs vs. the stock 28 lbs. I also got another dirty little piercing to match the front one I also went ahead and ditched the spare tire and jack for another good 31 lbs (comes out at the track anyway).

Removal of the 60+ lbs from the front end really made a huge difference driving around today. Since most of the weight was at the part of the car with the highest polar moment of inertia, the effects were immediately noticed even during regular cornering. There is less push/understeer/dive and the car feels more "point and shoot". Even acceleration and braking seems to have improved by a noticeable amount. I noticed it especially just rolling around between stop signs.

I'm now glad I did these mods despite their somewhat high price. I wouldn't place them ahead of things like swaybars or Stage 2, but they're definitely something to consider when trying to go faster. I would take weight reduction over HP any day because it helps with side to side as well as braking.

Now the outstanding problem is my damper setup. The BC's harsh ride are becoming more apparent due to the weight reduction. Less weight = higher natural frequency = uncomfortable. I'm also hoping I didn't make the rear end too light so that it becomes twitchy, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Weight reduction so far:
- Lightweight battery 28 lbs
- Subframe 14 lbs
- Front bumper beam 22 lbs
- Rear bumper beam 21 lbs
- StopTech BBK ?? lbs (lighter than 4-pots)
- Forged track wheels 15-20 lbs
TOTAL: 100+ lbs

Monday, April 16, 2012

Oswald Front Bumper Beam

Weather was good today so put on the Oswald Front Bumper Beam.

Another straight forward install of re & re bumper beam. Stock weighs 28 lbs, new one weighs 6 lbs. Also got a nice nose ring too ;)

Didn't have time to test drive but will feel it out tomorrow morning and report back.

The 40 lbs of weight I shed this weekend was very noticeable on my commute to/from work. The front end recovers from bumps quicker and I'm getting a lot more feedback from the steering wheel during cornering. Since I haven't changed damper settings I even noticed a slight increase in the amount of rebound from the reduced front end mass.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oswald Lightweight Subframe

Today was quite productive as I also installed my Oswald Lightweight Subframe.
It weighs 10 lbs vs. the stock 24 lbs and is MUCH stronger. After taking off the hulking stock subframe it was already twisting and bending in my hands!
Install went butter smooth. Every bolt hole lined up perfectly and with the addition of the undertray mount kit, the splash guard went on flawlessly. I was even surprised that all the plastic clips lined up on the fender liner! Driving it on the street was a similar experience as the rear triangle brace. Front end felt slightly more athletic and took bumps a bit better. Steering also felt tighter. But as with the rear brace, I won't be able to tell the true difference until I hit up the track.

Maintenance remaining: 
- Clean air filter & MAF
- Change spark plugs (LFR6A-11)
- Lube squeaky rear swaybar bushings
- Alignment (haven't decided specs yet)

Mods remaining: 
- Front & rear Oswald bumper beams
- Roo brake ducts & hose routing
- Whiteline roll center kit

Before track: 
- Install KFP front pads before track
- Check track wheel fitment
- Check harness fitment with V9 seats
- Detail car then vinyl

 Two weeks left to shakedown on April 29th... I think I can make it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Antigravity Lightweight Battery

Installed my Antigravity 16-Cell battery after work today. It weighs 3.2 lbs vs. the stock 30+ lb battery. This thing is tiny but packs a punch! 480 CCA vs. the 500-600 CCA of the OEM battery at a fraction of the weight. The battery is so tiny that I had to use some foam risers underneath the battery, flip the mounting bracket upside down, and add a rally blue yoga block to stabilize everything.
Dropping 27 lbs off the front left corner should definitely help reduce understeer at the track.
After installing the battery my car fired up instantly without any hesitation. So far so good. I just hope my yoga block mod can take the heat Anyone who has ever felt a yoga block before knows the foam is really hard, but you never know. I'll have to keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Roo Ducts Arrived

These arrived today:
Close-ups attached. Incredibly lightweight, box felt empty when I received it. I plan to paint them black for a more stealthy look before mounting them. Anyone interested in them can contact RANDYZIMMER.COM Randy sent me a video of how they were made! I put it pon youtube for you guys.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Oswald Rear Triangle Brace

Installed the Oswald Performance Rear Triangle Brace over the weekend. Installation was pretty straight forward. Remove the back seats, loosen the seatbelt pre-tensioners, drop the strut brace supports in, attach the lower support bracket and bolt in the triangle brace. The only trouble I had was mounting the RH strut tower brace as I had a wire harness in the way, but some twisting and fiddling and it went on fine. Everything else fit perfectly!
The fit and finish of this piece is really top notch. I can't believe how sturdy this thing feels when bolted to the car. It feels like you could use it as a jacking point (although I wouldn't try). Off the car the brace couldn't have weighed more than 3-4 lbs. Well worth it over the Litespeed X-Brace cables I had before, which required tightening every so often!
I haven't really been able to test it on the street, but so far bumps seem to be less harsh than they used to. A similar feeling to when I installed the TiC Fender Cowl Braces, but in the rear instead. Definitely a good thing. Can't wait to try it at the track :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Porsche GT-3 Brake Ducts

I've looked into the Roo Ducts but on the 06+ WRX/STI they put the washer jug in the fender area which completely blocks the potential to run a hose (see attached). I could revert to an 05 style jug in the engine bay but that would require deleting the air pump at a minimum, which would then be +PIPs if I decide to do OTA. Anwyay, I've asked Randy to find a solution for me as I'm sure he's run into this before. I think the Prova brake ducts will work but they need some airflow directed towards them (see attached photos). Jacopo mentioned he uses these on his STI at the Nurburgring and has no more fading issues. Even Porsche uses a similar style OEM brake duct on their GT-3:
TMP on April 29th with is my scheduled "shakedown" date to test everything out and heat cycle the slicks I bought. I'm also trying to schedule a bit of personal coaching that day too... The Stoptech kit actually keeps the stock brake bias, it's the KFP pads which shift the bias slightly forward because they have a higher mu (0.47) than the DS2500 pads in the rear (0.40). It's not that big of a difference though, and if I wanted to adjust it I could probably just get a more aggressive pad in the rear.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

StopTech ST-40 BBK

Stop so hard, that shit cray!!
Stoptech ST-40 is on the car now. As my friend said while helping me bleed my brakes, "the pedal is now harder than a 13-year old on viagra". Funny guy, but the engine was off so there was no vacuum assist on the pedal lol. Despite that, pedal feeling IS amazing. I feel I have a lot wider range of modulation than I did before over about an inch of brake pedal travel. Of course, the stainless lines and master cylinder brace all help with that -- but there's a noticeable improvement over the stock 4-pot setup. My only complaint is that this kit makes the rear 2-pots look tiny!! :P
I'm using the Stoptech street pads for now and haven't bedded them yet as the instructions say to wear off the zinc plating first, but already stopping distance is pretty good. For the track, I have a set of carbon-kevlar KFP Gold pads that have a mu of 0.47. I'll be swapping those in before track days to conserve brake pads. I bought them from Peter Hanson and they came with a free pass to one of his full-day driving schools - sick deal!! As a reference, the ST-40 rotors are 328x28mm and stock STI Brembos are 326x30mm. I went with the ST-40 kit since Stoptech claims that the calipers are designed to maintain the stock brake bias. Big thanks to Chris @ Touge Tuning for hooking me up with a great deal :D