Well, it was more testing the tuning comes later. Good news is that we’ve moved up about halfway through the wait-list. Bad news is there’s still a good ways to go. We are currently sitting at #23.
This event was much more about learning how the Mini handles with all the changes and updates. With a redone suspension and drive train, the car is literally going to drive like a new car. Initial impressions are that the car is a ton faster, and much easier to drive faster.
The LSD made the first impression. That was mostly because the first turn on the course setup was a 1st gear hairpin into a fairly long straight. Ideally suited for unloading a tire and spinning it. As soon as I was on the exit of the turn, I would hammer down the gas and the car did not complain one bit. It just started accelerating, no spinning of tires. There was another section at the end of the course with a 4 corner S (left, left, right, right complex) that was a slow 2nd gear corner. Again, hammer down on exit, where previously the inside tire would have spun the car just pulled to the finish of the course. Overall, very happy with how the LSD performed.
The coilovers (and sway bar, control arms, and bushings) were the other major area of unknown. My fear was that adding and stiffening the suspension would cause the car to become twitchy under hard braking. The car would get a little nervous in those conditions, it never felt uncontrollable. And honestly, it was more predictable than on the stock suspension. With the lowered ride height and increased stiffness all the way around, it was much easier to understand how the tires were coping with the demands being placed on them. I was able to use more of the tires ability in both braking and turning. It was a dramatic difference even without running the slicks. The car just felt fast, and managed hard braking and change of direction significantly better than stock. There was a high speed section that required a small, but quick left to right to left. In a couple runs, I noticed that I picked up a small bounce on the rear end going through that series. I should note that the coilovers are running right in the middle of the range for stiffness and the car hasn’t been fully dialed in with an alignment and corner balancing yet. Very positive start here though.
A few other odds and ends…
The seat was fine. While driving, I really didn’t notice it much. I didn’t feel like I was significantly better or worse for it. I don’t have the full harness in yet, so I was still using the factory belts. I did not have a sore spot on my leg from bracing myself while racing, so maybe it was doing more than I realized. I’ll reevaluate it after the full harness is installed.
The UltraGauge did everything it was expected to do exactly as expected. The mount held well, and the placement was perfectly visible in both day and night (well early morning, but dark). What I found in watching the readings is the engine temps pick up a good bit when sitting still. In the drive thru getting breakfast and coffee, the engine temp went from about 170 to 210. The factory gauge just showed the needle right in the middle with no fluctuations at all. I’d probably be happier not knowing, but I think the visibility is ultimately a good thing for managing the car and performance.
While results weren’t the goal of the day, I’m pretty happy with how it ended up. I didn’t technically win the class, but classing for the Mini is weird with the SCCA these days. I’m not sure how a car competes with a shifter kart and a couple Formula SAE cars, but whatever. For the event (and to be more like One Lap of America) I ran my worn Dunlop D3s, everyone else in class was actually on their slicks. Despite that I put in the fastest RAW time for cars in the class. PAX is just an argument waiting to happen, so we’ll leave that one alone.
One of the few things to go wrong on the car during the event was my mount and the app I use to record the runs. It started with me forgetting to setup the track during the morning walk, so I missed the morning runs. I set it up during the lunch break and was prepared to capture the runs in the afternoon. I’m guessing the app lost permissions to the camera because it did not record any video. I also only managed to capture 2 runs. On the 3rd run the mount popped off the window and feel to the floor board. That was basically the end of that. Here’s the 2 runs it did capture: