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FF Battle 7 Presented by Continental Tire

Boost is still best—but just barely—at the '15 edition of FF Battle by Continental Tire

May 11, 2016
Photographers: Luke Munnell, Jofel Tolosa

After years of playing out our FF Battle (FFB), front engine, front-wheel drive competition, at the technical and twisty Streets of Willow—not to mention on the dynamometer at Raceline USA—it was time for a change. Not because anything was wrong with our old digs, but because sometimes new energy can be triggered by a difference in scenery. And so we bravely set out to weigh our SoCal circuit options, and ultimately decided on the 13-turn, 1.45-mile infield track at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in Fontana. We also did away with the dyno portion of the challenge to save some time and let our FF competitors do what they do best with their cars—go around the track fast!

Ff 7 battle continental tire logo Photo 2/51   |   Ff 7 Battle Continental Tire Logo

The new course doesn't have the kind of elevation changes you find at Streets of Willow, and is about a quarter-mile shorter, but it does have two, pretty, long straightaways where you can really stretch a car's legs. It's not uncommon to find most popular club racing organizations using the layout, and occasionally organizers will incorporate a portion of the venue's NASCAR oval into the circuit (together informally called the "roval") for some higher-profile events, like sports car racing. In fact, the "roval" famously hosted GT Live in 2 '04, where Japan's JGTC series (today known as Super GT) staged a demo.

For this seventh edition of FF Battle, we selected 15 entries from dozens of submissions, which were whittled down to 13 by the time race day arrived, including participants from Hasport Performance, Sportcar Motion, and StreetLightz, among others. As per usual, we stipulated street cars for FFB, but that was interpreted in a handful of ways by the field. All of the cars were Hondas, and the majority of those (nine) naturally aspirated; two came supercharged and two others ran turbos. Furthermore, nine competitors had some form of K-series powerplant under the hood, but we also had B mills and our lone Prelude had an H22.

Ff 7 battle logo Photo 3/51   |   Ff 7 Battle Logo

Despite the fact that one third of the entries ran boost, the competition was surprisingly tight, with the first eight finishers bunched up together with times within 3.4 seconds of one another. The third-best lap, a 1:17.121, came from Raymond Lee's Integra Type R (ITR), which was the fastest naturally aspirated machine around the circuit. It was about a half-second off the pace of the car in second place overall, Jason Kim's ITR, which at 1:16.654 was the quickest turbo vehicle around the track. It was Angel Torres' supercharged Civic CX hatchback (featured SS 8/15) that came away with top honors, however, posting an event-winning orbit of 1:16.029.

We should note that while these types of time attack-style competitions are meant to vet which builders have the right stuff in their cars, part of FFB7's story involves the hot shoes behind the steering wheels of these machines. Two drivers in particular, Yuta Akaishi and Jason Kim, locked up the top four spots of the finishing order, with Akaishi piloting both his own fourth-place, EG hatch and Torres' winning Civic, and Kim driving the two Integra Type Rs (his own and Lee's) that came home second and third.

Not to toot our own horn too much, but it was another great affair where everyone seemed to have a kickass time. We had a robust field of entries, especially with the new track, the weather cooperated, and it was the first time FFB was run in conjunction with other events, those being the inaugural Show Car Shootout and the annual european car Tuner GP. The grouping of challenges hints at a bigger project we hope to take a stab at later this year, where these competitions will run alongside each other at a festival. Stay tuned for more on that!

Ff battle 7 angel torres eg Photo 4/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Angel Torres Eg

Yuta Akaishi set the fastest lap in Angel Torres' supercharged and K-powered EG. We're going to have to outlaw "no front bumpers" soon...

Ff battle 7 yuta akaishi Photo 5/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Yuta Akaishi

Yuta blowing up Angel's phone to see where he was. Angel didn't arrive until the afternoon but still had plenty of time to set an FFB record lap at ACS.

Ff battle 7 raymond lee Photo 6/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Raymond Lee

Kudos to Raymond Lee for bringing the only girl within a 5-mile radius of the track.

Ff battle 7 amir bentatou dc5 Photo 7/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Amir Bentatou Dc5

Amir Bentatou's DC5, arguably the sexiest car at FFB.

Ff battle 7 jason lee civic Photo 8/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Jason Lee Civic

Jason Lee's boosted Civic received its fair share of obstacles.

Ff battle 7 steve lam 88 crx Photo 9/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Steve Lam 88 Crx

The oldest car in the field, Steve Lam's '88 CR-X, put down the sixth-fastest time thanks to a K20 swap and lighter curb weight.

Ff battle 7 joel etrata dc2 integra Photo 10/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Joel Etrata Dc2 Integra

Fifth place Joel Etrata in his K24-powered DC2 Integra.

Ff battle 7 civic type r Photo 11/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Civic Type R

Behind all those logos is a true Civic Type R from Japan!

Angel Torres
Nemo's Garage '93 Honda Civic CX
Best Lap: 1:16.029

There's a bit of pride that wells up in us when we see a car chosen to be featured in the mag that's more than just a looker—that can bust out with as much guts as style, like Angel Torres' hatchback. Driven by Yuta Akaishi (who also drove his own Civic to fourth place), the car should be familiar to our regular readers; under hood is a HyTech-built, supercharged K20A2 powerplant, complete with Benson open-deck sleeved block, Carrillo H-beam rods, custom CP ceramic-coated pistons, and a host of additional internal improvements. Power is routed through a SPEC flywheel and stage 3 clutch to a Gearspeed-built, LSD-equipped transmission with Insane Shafts 1,000hp axles. Our tech correspondent goes into more detail on the winning car on p. ??. Torres is weighing what to do with his EG for next year, surmising he will likely continue to develop the car's aero, increase wheel/tire size, and aim for the Super Lap Battle Street FWD Class record in '16.

Jason Kim
RacelineUSA 2001 Acura Integra Type R
Best Lap: 1:16.654

Kim, who's the sales and marketing director at Dukeun, Inc., pulled double duty at FFB7, also piloting Raymond Lee's ITR, remarkably putting both cars in the top three. This DC2 sports a GReddy-turbocharged B20-VTEC engine, JDM ITR header, HyTech exhaust, and Raceline USA-tuned Hondata S300 engine management. For rigidity and planted-ness, Kim opts for Zeal B6 coilovers, Swift springs, DC Sports CS-1 tower braces, Skunk2 front camber arms, and an Autopower rollbar. To slow/stop the ITR, he went with Project Mu CR brake rotors and pads and RGS stainless braided lines, while the exterior is festooned in Feels carbon hood, Spoon Sports mirrors, J's Racing rear GT wing and air duct, JDM ITR front end with optional kit, and custom splitter. Kim says the main goal for this car is to do a sub-2-minute lap at Buttonwillow Raceway with a B-series.

Raymond Lee
'01 Acura Integra Type R
Best Lap: 1:17.121

Lee, our third-place finisher, is a part-time lunch gofer at J&R Auto Parts, part-time janitor at Raceline USA, and full-time student at Cal State L.A., having built this car to drive to track events, run those events, then drive home, all without missing a beat. Gone is the ITR's B-series, replaced by a K20Z3 with upgrades that feature a built head, Alpha header, 70mm throttle body, Blox velocity stack, and HyTech header. The car has been tuned using a Hondata K Pro by Raceline and the chassis rocks Buddy Club dampers, Swift springs, and Project Mu brake pads. Raymond's Integra was the fastest naturally aspirated car in the competition.

Yuta Akaishi
'92 Honda Civic
Best Lap: 1:17.731

The second of two cars driven by writer/driver/consultant Yuta, this fifth-gen Civic featured a B18C mill with Comptech intake, PLM header, Battle Craft exhaust, Koyo radiator, and Rywire engine harness. The suspension and brakes were grafted from a '99 Integra Type R and augmented with Exceed coilovers and Project Mu Club Racer front pads. Yuta aims to continue using the car as a practice platform, with no further mods likely.

Joel Etrata
'94 Acura Integra RS
Best Lap: 1:17.927

Etrata's DC2 finished top 5 using a 2.4L plant from a TSX furnished with Type R cams, Type S oil pump, BDL fuel rail, RDX injectors, RRC manifold with 70mm Skunk2 throttle body, K-Tuned 4-2-1 header, and custom intake 3" exhaust. Power is routed to a DC5 Type R gearbox outfitted with Gearspeed carbon synchros and Type R LSD via Clutch Masters lightened flywheel and six-puck clutch. Chassis improvements included JIC Magic suspension, ASC SpeedMetal tie bar, Godspeed rear stabilizer bar, and Megan Racing camber kits and toe arms. Brake upgrades come in the form of Brembo front Acura TL Type S calipers with RL rotors and Civic Type R rear calipers with StopTech rotors and Hawk pads.

Steve Lam
RPM Garage '88 Honda CR-X
Best Lap: 1:18.543

What's better for owning the track than a lightweight, low drag coefficient classic Honda equipped with one of its newest, most powerful mills? Not much, as shop owner Lam found out, turning in the sixth fastest orbit in an almost 30-year-old chassis equipped with KONI shocks, Swift springs, ST rear seat bar, J's Racing rear wing, and PCI front splitter and side skirts. The K20 engine comes from an RSX Type S and has been left largely unmolested except for Acura RDX injectors, Skunk2 intake manifold and throttle body, and DTR header. The only other modification Lam indicates are the brakes, which have been upgraded with a Wilwood front kit and Hawk Blue pads. Future plans for Lam and his CR-X include more power, driver ergonomic refinements, and, of course, more seat time.

Amir Bentatou
Marvelous Tune '02 Acura RSX
Best Lap: 1:19.142

Can we just say we love Amir, both for his tenacity and skill behind the wheel and his humble, great attitude? We were super stoked to see the shop manager from Avus Autosport back this year (he ran our Super Lap Battle and sister brand european car's Tuner GP in '14), now campaigning a DC5 with K20A motivation and bolt-ons—intake, RBC intake manifold, PLM header, and custom exhaust with Kakimoto Racing muffler. Additional tweaks include KW coilovers and a Cusco-edition Bride seat. Seems he's done with the RSX, at least for now anyway; he's shifting his focus to the sexy NSX he just picked up (which we are totally jelly about).

Robert Choo
StreetLightz '08 Honda Civic Type R
Best Lap: 1:19.471

The car comes from StreetLightz, a parts distributor and seller in Baldwin Park that specializes in OEM, JDM, and high performance; the driver is none other than ex-editor and current owner/operator of race prep shop Chewerks in Industry, Rob Choo. Together, they rounded out a top eight from FF Battle that were within 3.5 seconds of one another, and they did it with a fairly modestly modified CTR imported from Japan. It runs a K24A2 powerplant with Buddy Club cams and Hondata engine management. Other mods consist of Buddy Club RS dampers, Progress rear antiroll bar, carbon hood and roof, custom front splitter, and that's pretty much it. Perhaps a little frustrated they couldn't match the boosted crowd, StreetLightz has plans to build a turbo '08 Si to stay competitive and retire this Type R from competition.

Jason Lee
Sportcar Motion '92 Honda Civic
Best Lap: 1:21.593

Sportcar Motion's Loi Song again tapped Jason Lee to pilot this EG-gen sedan at FF Battle after last year's catastrophic windowing of the previous K-series engine in the Civic. Running turbo power this year, the car features a K20 swap with Golden Eagle sleeves, JE pistons, Brian Crower rods, and Supertech valvetrain. Boost comes from a Garrett GTX3576 on a DOC Race manifold regulated by a Turbosmart 45mm wastegate, and the charge is sent via Godspeed custom plumbing outfitted with a Forged Motorsport 50mm blow-off valve to a Godspeed intercooler and ultimately a Golden Eagle intake manifold. Other engine upgrades include a Hondata K Pro 3 ECU, AEM dual E85 pumps, and DPI 2,200cc injectors, while the chassis has been overhauled with PCI, Fortune Auto, Godspeed, DC Sports, and Wilwood bits. Unfortunately, the powerful sedan was struck again with mechanical issues and was limited in track time.

Chris Billedo
'08 Honda Civic Si
Best Lap: 1:22.516

Billedo is the owner of Power Autosports USA, but you might also know him as DJ POW and Jofel's sidekick. He calls his Si a "real street car" with very limited modifications, but each is critical—namely a K20A Type R mill, Feal suspension, and Acura TL Type S Brembo brakes. As for future plans, the car is for sale, so look him up if you're interested!

Daniel Kirby
'90 Honda Civic DX
Best Lap: 1:22.611

When Kirby's not tracking his hatch, he works as a mechanic and welder at Quality Muffler Service. His Civic is another pure and simple machine in the field, with a JDM B18C motor bolted to a B16A trans under hood. The car rides on Koni yellow dampers and Ground Control springs, and sports an ASR rear subframe brace, 24mm sway bar, GSP spherical rear lower control arms, and eight-point rollbar. He runs DA9 Integra spindles, Integra Type R brake calipers, Hawk HP Plus front pads, and Mini Cooper 11-inch rotors. As he's the only EF in the field, we give him major props!

Edwin Le
Hi-Tech Computers '01 Honda Prelude
Best Lap: 1:26.332

We're always pleasantly surprised to see other Hondas besides Civics and Integras, like Le's Prelude. The computer repair tech from San Diego left the engine mostly untouched, equipping the H22A4 with just bolt-ons: PLM Tri-Y header, Top Fuel intake, GReddy Evo 2 exhaust with custom test pipe, and Gates racing timing belt. Chassis mods consist of D2 suspension, Energy Suspension bushings, Neuspeed front sway bar, Feels Racing strut bar, and Spoon Sports rear strut brace. Each corner is Enkei RPF1 wheels in front of drilled/slotted rotors. Le is looking at giving his Prelude a K24 heart by '17 and rebuilding the car down the road to meet NASA and SCCA wheel-to-wheel regulations.

Carter Gillespie
Hasport Performance '93 Acura Integra
Best Lap: 1:28.134

Carter is part of the next generation of Gillespie to come from the famed fellas at Hasport Performance, where he works as a machinist. His DA Integra showed up equipped with a Jackson Racing-supercharged K24A1 engine swap, complete with Brian Crower Stage 2 cams, RC Engineering 650cc injectors, Hondata K-Pro ECU, and, of course, Hasport engine swap mounts and K-series conversion wire harness. Its gearbox hails from an '03 RSX with a Type R LSD and road-race-prepped Hasport axles. Chassis improvements come by way of Progress Competition suspension, Konig wheels, and Fastbrakes big brake kit. Future plans for the car include an increase in performance to around 300 hp, redesigned splitter and wing, modifying the car to fit larger front wheels, and fixing the loose nut connecting the driver seat and steering wheel (ha!). Carter also enjoys long walks on the beach and coffee on rainy days.

SPEC TIRE: CONTINENTAL EXTREMECONTACT DW
For a third consecutive year, FF Battle competitors ran Conti's ExtremeContact DW rubber at all four corners, setting personal best laps thanks in part to the summer tire's grip and predictability. Considering Auto Club Speedway's higher speeds, the added traction was a plus. The ExtremeContact DW comes in sizes from 16 to 20 inches and is great for the circuit or street, in the dry or wet, even holding up under heavy braking. continentaltire.com

Ff battle 7 continental extremecontact dw Photo 51/51   |   Ff Battle 7 Continental Extremecontact Dw

Category: Summer Ultra-High Performance
Sizes: 16" to 20"
UTQG Rating: 340 AA/A

Bob Hernandez
559 Articles

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