With Formula D nearing its season-ending round, we reminisce on a year filled with plenty of heart-wrenching crashes, controversies, surprises, and upsets within each drift series. Teams getting new drivers, drivers getting new cars, and cars getting new parts, are all typical of what happens in the off-season, isn't it? Or is it in the off-season that we hear plenty of rumors and gossip about the most changes done on a vehicle, considering there is a lot of time to test and develop these changes without the concerns of making it to the next event, especially when there is usually less than a few weeks between each event when the season starts. Already in 2008, with five events down, Formula D's series is quickly coming to an end.
Team RS-R began the 2008 season campaigning a Scion tC, which many thought would've been impossible to accomplish, let alone drift. The road less traveled is indeed a difficult journey as Team RS-R embarks on improving their Scion tC to a whole new level.
Recently, Turbo magazine caught up with the RS-R drift team that has done a great deal of changes to their car, perhaps spending more time with the car torn apart than with the car assembled for events. The changes they've made during the season can probably rival some of the other team changes during their off-season. Team RS-R Scion spends a great deal of time redesigning and testing parts as the season goes along, and we were lucky enough to catch them during one of their testing session at the El Toro Airbase in Irvine, Calif., to discuss all the changes that were done since the shoot in our sister magazine, Import Tuner (June '08). For those of you who want to see what goes on at a test session, here is a look at the changes you wouldn't be able to see unless you were underneath the car.
During this test session, Team RS-R Scion installed a new rear brake and axle setup for improved response and weight improvements to decide whether or not it should be used at the next event. The setup consists of a completely redesigned brake caliper, caliper mounts, rotors, and lighter axle shafts. Overall this redesign would lighten the load on the rear suspension while improving braking response for the driver. While we all dream of having four-piston calipers on the rear rotors of our cars, this setup actually utilizes two calipers per rotor in the rear, a four-piston and a two-piston, but the four-piston caliper is not used for the foot brake. In actuality, the setup has the four-piston calipers controlled by the hand brake and the two-piston calipers controlled by the foot brake. A bit of e-brake overkill most people would say, yet it does make locking up the rear wheels a whole lot easier. Plus, keep in mind that most people wouldn't have converted a Scion tC into a drift car.
As the calipers have changed, so have the rotors, to a larger diameter with lighter overall weight, but to lighten the rear suspension, the axle shafts have changed as well--they're made out of the same 300M material used for many motor sport axle shafts for its strength and weight. The wheel offsets, due to the rear brake setup, also changed, requiring the use of spacers to bring the wheel offset to -3 for tracking purposes. Quite a lot of changes to test out but when looking even closer, with the rear of the car jacked up, we even noticed more changes. The rear adjustable camber arms have been specially made as well, allowing for increased adjustment to the vehicle stance, as well as the implementation of a bigger 22mm TRD rear sway bar. So many changes, so little time, but we were lucky enough to be there to see the tC in action and get driver Ken Gushi's overall impression of the setup."The car feels really good with the HKS 3037 turbo. The boost response and engine is a major improvement after additional tuning," Gushi says. Additional dyno tuning paid off for the Scion as power is improved to 450 whp over is original 400whp output. From the looks of everything, it seemed that there was great improvement with traction, ridiculous hand brake power, as Gushi liked the changes a lot, so this setup looks to stay with the car for the next event in Sonoma, Calif.
SpecsRS-R Scion TCPower450 WHP
Engine Specs3SGE Beams motor; HKS GT3037 turbo, external wastegate, intercooler, and camshafts; Blitz dual-SBC boost controller; Toda 2.2L stroker kit; Koyo aluminum radiator; BDL 72mm throttle body; SX fuel regulator and fuel pump; 850cc injectors; custom center-exit exhaust; Edelbrock 50hp single-wet fogger nitrous kit
DrivetrainG-Force five-speed sequential transmission, Tilton triple-carbon clutch, Kaaz limited-slip differential
Suspension RS-R coilovers, custom control arms, custom tie-rods
Wheels/TiresEnkei RPF1 (17x9 front, 18x10.5 rear), Toyo R1R tires (245/40-17 front, 255/35-18 rear)
BrakesProject Mu four-piston front calipers and rotors, brake lines, custom modified four-piston rear calipers and rotors (two pistons controlled by the foot brake, four pistons controlled by the hand brake), brake pads
ExteriorCustom Concept widebody kit
InteriorSparco Corsa seats, six-point harnesses, steering wheel, and shift knob; Design Craft spec custom rollcage
ElectronicsStack dash display, AEM EMS
RewindScion Timeline BuildThe progression toward building the RS-R Scion has been an uphill climb but the end result has been rewarding when testing the vehicle at the El Toro Airbase. Ben Chong filled us in with a quick timeline, recalling many of the changes done throughout the year to the Scion tC, some major and some minor. In chronological order, after Long Beach, the wheel size and brake calipers in the front of the car were downsized. By removing the Project Mu six-piston calipers and rotors, this allowed for smaller wheels in the front so that the vehicle can be closer to the ground without compromising suspension travel, and the implementation of stiffer spring rates (from 10Kg to 12Kg) were added all around. In Atlanta, the car went through some issues with the clutch and computer, which had to be addressed when the car came back from the Formula D event. But with less than two weeks to get the issues resolved before leaving for the next event in New Jersey, this was the major issue we had to address. After New Jersey the rear subframe was redesigned, and a nitrous oxide system was installed in the car, controlled by the AEM EMS (rpm and boost activated to turn on between 2,000-4,500 rpm and/or below 5 psi of boost or above 30 percent throttle) for low to midrange power, along with a watercooler sprayer for the intercooler. In addition, with racetracks that no longer have issues of road problems, the Scion tC has also been lowered another 10mm and spring rates increased from 12Kg to 14Kg all-round to reduce body roll. Then it was off to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Round 4 of the Formula D drift series.
After the Round 4 Las Vegas event, minor changes were made to the front suspension and a new propeller shaft was designed.RS-R also changed all the suspension bushing to polyurethane. Round 5 in Seattle looked to be a turning point, with things looking to be going in the right direction at this point. The team felt confident about the changes made up to this point--but the work was far from done. Problems arose again in Seattle when the hydraulic system for the clutch started to go. Upon the return to SoCal, the transmission was immediately removed and diagnosed to find out what went wrong, and all the rear suspension changes listed above took place, along with checking the engine for its integrity.
Only time will tell how these changes will fair against the competition, and with Sonoma less than a week away from the writing of this article, we can only wait and see what will happen. We've also heard that the team has development changes to the front suspension as well, which they plan to put in before the season finale, Round 7, at Irwindale Speedway. It seems that from every event since Long Beach the changes made to this car have brought it closer and closer to sitting on the podium. We wish the RS-R team good luck, and wonder if these are the type of changes that happen during the on-season, what should we expect from this team in the off-season?