The off season was a busy one…after finishing 2nd Place in the 2008 Redline Time Attack AWD Street Class Championship, finishing in the Top 5 at Subiefest, and 8th place in the Super Lap Battle Finals, we decided that we needed to up the ante for the 2009 season. With the goal of more power for 2009, Cosworth generously committed to the cause with a new set of Pistons as the heart of our motor build. Without the quality and strength of the Cosworth Pistons, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our goal of 450whp. Forced Performance also committed to 2009 sponsorship and rebuilt our FP Green turbo into the new FP HTA Green Turbo. With this build, we also decided to change to an external wastegate (Tial 38mm) to help control the boost. AEM came on board and took care of us with new gauges and a stand alone ECU to help control everything. With the new found power, we needed to think about cooling before it became a problem. Mishimoto came on board for 2009 with a new radiator and oil cooler kit. The Chassis and suspension will be improved this year with the addition of AST Suspension…we are expecting the coilovers to come in anyday now and be ready to perform before the next event. Kaminari also came on board with their Race Subframe Brace — this this is sturdy and really tightened up the front end!!! With the demands of high horsepower and long sessions on the track, its important to have the right fluids, and Motul came on board as our official fluids sponsor!!! EDO Performance has signed on again as my major sponsor this year and provides me with my own Pit Crew at the track. I can’t tell you how important this is to be competitive. Robert Krencik (Service Manager at EDO Performance) was named the Crew Chief of the team and I look to him as the final say on what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and overall, oversee the project. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to him and Logan (Service tech at EDO) for their sleepless nights leading up to this first event.
Now back to the event:
EDO Performance finished the motor build last week, successfully breaking in the motor, installing the new guages, radiator, oil cooler kit, subframe brace, new fluids, and taking one last long look over the entire car before it was ready for the dyno. Unfortunately, Edwin from EDO was unable to tune the car because he had previous commitments for a trip to England on business. Last minute scrambling and using my valuable contacts in the industry led me to Yimisport Tuning in Santa Clarita, CA. Paul Leung (tuner) is extremely knowledgable when it comes to tuning Subarus and he was personally recommended to me by many well respected people in the industry. Paul was kind enough to schedule me in at the last minute and worked hard until the weee hours of the night to make sure I had a strong and safe tune to race on that weekend. With 100 octane and water/meth injection provided by Snow Performance, he was able to squeeze out 440whp and 450tq!!! This resulted in a 70whp and 60tq gain over the previous build.
My new suspension from AST Suspension was due to arrive on Thursday where we would do the install and align at our shop in Hesperia, CA (Robispec) As Murphy’s Law always seems to find me, the order was incomplete and I would be without suspension for the event. Instead, I would plan to compete on stock suspension from a salvaged car that we just used for dyno purposes until the new stuff came in.
Saturday morning came around, and the crew from EDO Performance was there bright and early ready to succeed. I had a pit in my stomach when I had to tell them the bad news about the suspension. After discussing options about what to do, we had decided to just run with the stock suspension for the weekend and concentrate on making sure the new motor build would hold and run healthy. With the new found power, we found that the old silicone couplers were insufficient at holding up to the boost! The entire day was spent trying to secure the hoses from popping off and trying to keep the car in control with no suspension. I will admit, I was pretty discouraged and ready to call it a weekend. How was I to compete with no boost and no suspension??? Ok, I wasn’t discouraged…I was agitated!!! Robert and Logan had never given up, and they wouldn’t let me either. I really don’t know what I’d do without these guys!!!
Sunday morning comes along, and I run into the guys from GST Motorsports. They were kind enough to loan me a silicone coupler from their personal car. Just in time for the second practice session, we had it secured and ready to go. I had to make it work because if we couldn’t establish a time in the practice, we would not be able to compete in the Time Attack. So after discussing with Robert, we decided to do (2) warmup laps without boost in order to establish a lap time in case the hose popped off again. This time it held the entire time…so after the second lap, I gave it the power. The car was moving….and fast! Unfortunately, harnessing this power was a handful. The stock suspension left the car all over the place with massive amounts of understeer. We were able to qualify for the first time attack session in 20th place. Exactly an hour and ten minutes before the first timed session, Mike from Kognition Design in San Diego dropped by to deliver a set of coilovers for us to rebuild. Wouldn’t you know it…the KW Clubsports off my car that I sold a few weeks prior were suddenly dropped in my lap!!! I thought about it for a second…maybe quicker…looked at my Pit Crew Chief Robert and said, “Lets do a full suspension swap!!!” I figured, why not? We have to rebuild them anyway! With the entire EDO crew jumping on the car at the same time, within 45 minutes, we had the entire suspension swapped and aligned (by Robispec) and ready to go out for the first Time Attack Session!!!!
While lined up at grid waiting to be released, I was trying to figure out a way to make up some time in the session. I knew with my old coilovers, I was going to be much faster than my previous session. Once again, luck falls on my side…Mike Bonnani from Double Down Motorsports was grid right in front of me. During a quick discussion, he told me that if I was on his tail by the last turn of the warmup lap, he would let me by on the front straight so I could have a clean fast Time Attack session. Just as we discussed, when we came around the last turn of the warmup lap, I blew by him like he was sitting on a bench waiting for the next bus to show up. From what I hear, the crowd roared in excitement as I passed him in front of the stands. (good thing they weren’t aware that it was pre-staged!!!) As my first time out with my old suspension and new found power, I was able to pull a time good enough to move me from 20th to 4th Place moving me into the fast group for the second timed session. With that, we had one more practice session before the final Time Attack session. With a few more adjustments and a fresh set of tires (Toyo R1R’s), I knew everything was going to be good. With a fresh set of tires, I was ready to compete in the second Time Attack session. I couldn’t believe how sticky these were compared to the tires I ran earlier in the day…and they were good enough to get me a final timed run of 1:59.1 beating my previous best by 2.5 seconds and a podium finish of 3rd place in the AWD Street Class. Only a half second separated 1st-3rd!!!! With a little more time on this setup, I definately could have gone faster…but that’s ok, we’ll just save a little for later
Overall, with a 3rd Place finish to start of the season…I see good things in our future…VERY good things! Now that the car is back in the shop, we still have our hands full in the next step of the build…removing weight. As my boss and good friend Robert Fuller of Robispec says, “power is fast in a straight line…lightweight is fast EVERYWHERE!!!”