This past Friday, the team headed out to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway to drive the Club Racer open test day that took place over the whole of the weekend. Two days of open track was great for dialing in the ISF and I was able to collect more baseline data before the next round of modifications.
Before I get into the documentation of my experience in the ISF, I wanted to update the team driver’s times here at CVR since they’ve both hit high marks as of last week.
Justin, who has been extremely devoted to driving as of the past year, had gone to CVR the first week of January. With a fresh set of 265/35/18 Yokohama A052’s he was able to put down a blisteringly fast 1’54.9, immediately backed up by a 1’54.7 the session after. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I also think this is the N/A S2000 record for the track. Not to mention the motor is stock short of an exhaust. For this most recent event, Justin was not able to replicate a 1’54, but consistently marked mid to low 1’55’s both days. Justin is currently awaiting a new differential build that should be arriving and installed within the next week or two, hopefully in time for our next planned test day at SOW in February.
As far as Will’s ISF goes, the last time he had the ISF at CVR for testing was back in November of 2020. Coincidentally, he also stopped the clock at a 1’54.70 for the first time driving the car in it’s ‘completed’ form. That time was also set on A052, but 295 series more suited to the ISF – it’s worth noting the tires were 6 events old. For the Club Racer event last weekend, a few small changes were made to the ISF, notably the addition of a new carbon deck wing and a fresh set of A052s. Saturday yielded very small improvements in Will’s time, but only a few tenths, as he struggled with adjusting the front end setup to balance the new rear aero.
Luckily he made the decision to crash in our cabin and stick around until Sunday to try again during an early session. Morning came around and he was able to put down a 1’53.4 and leave happily.
During Saturday’s sunset, I was able to grab a few quick pictures of the team cars, sans Kristian, as his EK (as well as mine) is still under the knife.
You can read about the details of Will’s build in a much more in-depth feature we did when we unveiled the car here.
Justin’s S2000 is no stranger to this site, or our Instagram page, but the new K1 bumper looks right at home. While the black fits the sort of ‘test bed’ look this car has, it will be nice to see it color matched soon.
You can almost count the modifications to this car on one hand. With the motor being stock, along with the retention of the OEM ECU, OEM LSD, and all OEM Arms. The only changes have been a Koyorad Radiator, RS Future coilovers, APG front and rear brakes, the Advan TC3’s, Voltex Type 7 Wing, and the new K1 Lab Front Bumper. Justin’s incredible driving truly shows what the S2000 is capable of.
It’s hard to beat the sunsets at Chuckwalla.
So how did our NDF Koyo ISF project hold up?
If you’re new to this particular build, you can catch up with the most recent update here. The first thing you’ll most likely notice about the car is that it hasn’t changed, aside from a different drivers seat, the car is the exact same, untouched from the most recent update. I’m even using the same NT01’s from the Nitto Driver Battle event we did back in August of 2020 which now have 5 events on them. Since there have been no changes to the car mechanically, this post will mostly be a personal documentation of how the car behaved. It will also serve as my baseline for CVR, as the last time I drove this track in the ISF was August and we were having braking and transmission issues which resulted in a high 2’09 lap time in 108+ degree heat.
Again, for CVR, I was using Will as a baseline much like I did for my times at SOW. This has been very convenient for me, as Will is a great driver, and for the most part he went through the same motions as I am with the car. At the Nitto Driver Battle, Will drove my car and clocked a 2’06.35 officially for the battle, but had a low 2’05 during the first session on his AIM (they didn’t have the timing up before the track went hot). Given the high temps that day, I figured that would be a decent goal for me in the current conditions with the car being mechanically sound and the brake issue sorted.
Justin and I didn’t get to the track Friday until about 1am. By the time we offloaded his car and made it to the cabin it was closer to 1:45. I was so tired, that I literally slept up to the first session start time on Saturday. I was more than willing to sacrifice the fast time of the day for more sleep as I was there for Sunday as well. After I woke up, made some coffee and a sandwich, and parked in the paddock the drivers meeting had just started. While the first advance session went out, I set the car up.
Cold pressure on the NT01 was set at about 26 psi, which on my first outing results in hot pressure of about 35; which ended up being ideal for the day. I wasn’t expecting much during the first session, as I was still acclimating to everything, but I ended up getting a 2’06.6. I noticed that the car was still understeering quite a bit, mostly through turns 4 and 5, the sort of double apex left complex, and very noticeably through the bowl. There were massive divets just outside each berm on the turn 6 and 7 complex so I think I took those easier than usual, which probably ended up helping me hit the apex on turn 7 better as I usually overshoot that tight right hander.
The next session I tried experimenting with leaving the car in a higher gear in the turns I had typically downshifted in. After talking to Will a bit, we sort of discovered that sometimes with this car being able to get on the power sooner, despite being in a lower RPM range, resulted in faster corner exits. I don’t know if that was the ticket, or I was getting more and more confident with braking later and harder, but I managed to cut over a second with a 2’05.5. For a lot of the turns I was entering slower but able to get a much quicker corner exit, and for a track like CVR I think the slow in fast out philosophy helps tremendously where high average speeds are key. I wasn’t able to improve on the time later in the day as it got hotter, but I was pretty satisfied with hitting my goal time, and on top of that I felt like I had finally reached a point where I was confident in controlling the car. I knew I was at the limit for a lot of the day and my corrections were getting much more controlled (i.e. no more hacking at the wheel like I feel the need to do in my Civic).
The next morning I woke up excited to hit the first sessions since I missed the ones on Saturday. For the first session, I went out in Advanced but was all over the place and I ended up going off at the waterfall. My favorite part of the track where the whole weight of the car gets to go up and then down an elevated left hander, but this time the rear caught faster than anticipated and I was still countering. Rather than try to save it and possibly make it worse, I just ended up driving straight off track. It wasn’t bad, but I wasted my session – a bit disappointed in myself. I hate going off track.
Instead of going out in the next session, which would have been Inter/Advanced, I opted to take a breather and relax. The next time I went out was clouded with spotty traffic, it felt like there was always a slower car in front or a faster car behind. Instead of pulling in, I decided to head to the hot pits, check how much time left was in the session, and start clean. I was released with 10 minutes left in the session. I boogied on the out lap and started my hot lap with a clean track both in front and behind me. This lap was the first time I think I’ve experienced any sort of flow state on track. It felt like I took the best parts of each lap I did from Saturday and put them all together. It felt slower than others, but I ended up with a 2’04.4, another full second faster. I was pretty stoked. Mostly because I felt like that was the lap I got the most out of the car. I’ve not gotten to that point with the Civic yet.
Now, going forward, I feel like I’m in a better position to judge the improvement of new alignment settings, fresh tires, and different suspension components, or maybe even a differential soon.
So what’s next? I have several suspension components on order from FIGS Engineering that include spherical upper control arms, rear Trac arms, and spherical rear lower control arms. I also have their two-piece slotted rotors on order to help shed un-sprung weight, as well as alleviate my now cracking drilled OE Brembo rotors. I’m not sure what parts, if any, will arrive before our next SOW day, but I’m hoping at least the FUCA come in because the rollover I get at SOW is insane. It would be great to get the front camber sorted.
The Koyorad radiator performed as good as ever, even despite the valley plate leak (which will hopefully be fixed next week). The oil temps stayed in optimal range with the help of the Koyorad cooler as well. And the gaffer tape supplied by my U-Line account held my bumper on nicely even during my off.
I’m going to try and get one more event out of these tires at SOW!
Couple sunset shots.
I left CVR late Sunday morning after I hit my PB and made it to the shop in time to take care of my bumper. I was tired of having the gaffer tape on there; it looked like shit and was leaving marks as it dried. I had Kristian order me some Quik-Latches through BattleCraft so I thought now was a good a time as any to install them.
A small look at the cracks forming on the rotors. These were among the smaller ones. Lexus says if any of them reach 30mm or hit the inner or outer side of the rotor to replace them. I pulled into the paddock a few times with the front brakes smoking over the weekend, I just don’t think drilled rotors were ever really meant for the temps they see on track. I don’t know…what do I know haha
My GoPro Hero 3 died at the last event I was at so I don’t have in-car, but since this last weekend I ordered a new camera (which I think I just got notification it arrived at my Amazon Locker). I’ll have Justin’s and Will’s laps up on our YouTube channel shortly under our In-Car Playlist.