In 2017 for FF Battle 9, we wanted to shake things up a bit in terms of competition by separating the field into two different run groups in order to level the playing field. The result was a tight battle for the top positions in both classes. In addition, we applied a driver rule that stated Street Class competitors had to drive their own vehicles, unlike the Race Class, which allowed for a hired gun in place.
After receiving a huge influx of event hopefuls (over 80!) the list was narrowed down to 11 Race Class competitors and 13 Street Class entries for the largest field we've ever hosted. Similar to FF Battles of the past, the line-up was unapologetically Honda-heavy—not surprising when you consider that of the registrations submitted, 98 percent were Honda owners. We repeat it every year, but the event is open to all FF vehicles, not just Honda/Acura.
As competitors began rolling in during the cool morning hours that would soon be completely overpowered by a pissed-off desert sun, we noted a very different look and feel to this year's FF Battle—the most obvious of which was the number of people on hand. Typically settled at around 15 cars, this year's field of 24 brought with it more cars, more people, and more support from spectators.
Some new talent was introduced at FF Battle 10, some of which was very competitive and made a statement at this year's big track day. Along with those new faces were some very familiar ones, including Raceline's Elton Lo and Sportcar Motion's Loi Song, a guy that has attended and competed in every FF Battle event since the very beginning.
Much like 2017's FF Battle, the top three were very close, and it should also be noted that the top 3 lap times were in fact faster than 2017s top 3 Race Class finishes, even with the elevated temps this year. Thank you to ENEOS and SPEC Clutch for helping to make this event possible and of course to all of the competitors that helped make this one of the best events we've ever hosted.
1st Place - Billy Jang
Billy is no stranger to track days, which was obvious from his first few laps, but the recently completed Civic EJ hatchback he piloted wasn't his own. The car actually belongs to Duane Bada, who served as the Super Street track Chief for the day, taking care of the majority of organizational duties and also giving us a hand in the pre-event planning.
An avid track enthusiast, this Civic is Bada's first experience with K power, and with Billy at the wheel they were able to lay down an impressive lap of 1:23.409, which was enough to take the win and topple last year's event winning 1:24.901 blazed by two-time champ Joel Etrata and his Integra sedan (a vehicle that was since sold but its new owner competed at this year's event as well).
2nd Place - Jose Mejia
On Billy Jang's heels was Jose Mejia in his '98 Integra, with a commendable 1:24.192, which also surpassed last year's fastest lap of the day. Jose relies on a classic B-series GS-R power plant built by Twostep Motorsports, a reworked ITR trans with a little of Ghostwerks' magic touch, and a laundry list of well chosen suspension goods including JRZ RS Pro 2s.
The cars both in front and in back of Jose "out liter'd" him significantly with K24 power, but his wheel skills and a well-built chassis kept him right in the mix. With plenty of laps and track days on Billy and Jose's resumes, it was a pretty close battle and one that we'd like to see resurrected at FF Battle 11 in 2019!
3rd place - Amir Bentatou
Amir is no stranger to FF Battle or Tuner Battle Week events. In the past he piloted his NSX to a win in the Show Car Shootout, took top honors after driving his friend's LS-powered BMW M3 in the Odd Swaps Challenge, and this time around served as the wheelman behind Sportcar Motion's K24 Civic EH.
Though the car made an appearance last year, it's since seen quite a few changes, though it had only seen the track once since those updates prior to FF Battle 10, so the event served as a test bed of sorts to note issues and make adjustments. Still, even with limited seat time, Amir was able to do what he does and muster a 1:24.489 to end the day with a very respectable 3rd place finish.
Sean Lucas 1:25.020
Following up the Sportcar Motion hatch was Sean Lucas in his '00 Civic coupe. Another B-series loyalist, Sean's B18 relies on Kinsler ITBs and Toda Spec B's for motivation, a B16 trans fitted with an MFactory 1.5 LSD, and 4.9 FD to transfer power and an APG forged front brake kit to slow things down.
Carbon fiber rear window deletes and an all-business interior all worked together for a 1:25.020 and a 4th place finish.
Dexter Piatos 1:26.078
At last year's FF Battle event, Dexter Piatos brought his B-powered '00 Civic EJ hatchback and earned a 4th place finish in the Street Class with a 1:33.051. This time around he was placed in the Race Class behind the wheel of his new car, a 'K24-powered '94 Integra RS sedan that served as the 2016 and 2017 champion under the ownership and driving skills of Joel Etrata.
Though it's a new platform for Dexter and a new class, he dominated his previous FFB time with a 1:26.078 to land right in the middle of the Race Class pack.
Gabriel Urias - 1:27.383
Not far behind Dexter was Gabriel's '96 Civic coupe complete with a K24A2 swap and K20 transmission.
To lighten things up, Lexan rear windows and a sunroof replaced the bloated stockers, a CWest bumper and PCI side skirts help shove air around and along with the KW Vibrant 3 coilovers are a host of upgraded bushings and adjustable bits. At the end of the day the EJ delivered a best of 1:27.383.
Keith Maxson - 1:28.122
Keith jumped behind the wheel of Henry Fierros' '00 Civic sedan - the only car at FF Battle to rely on H22 power - and finished the day with a 1:28.122. A DC5 CWest front bumper was modified to fit the Civic while PCI side skirts and Tracklife full fenders make up the flanks and accompany lightweight TE37s.
After a hard day of driving Keith managed to deliver a 1:28.122, a few seconds faster than Henry's personal best at Streets of Willow.
Brandon Cruz 1:29.092
Brandon's bright yellow Civic EH looked clean enough to steal a trophy at a car show, yet held its own on the big day. FF Battle would serve as Brandon's first time at Streets of Willow in his hatchback, though he did have a little bit of experience having tracked his NSX there previously.
With a built K20R and a host of ASR suspension goods a 1:29.092 was laid down and we're confident he'll only improve as he gets more seat time in this slick build.
Meng Tea 1:31.181
Going from a supercharged FR-S to a B20 Integra LS with bolt-ons, Meng Tea set out to build something he could drive every day while ragging on during weekend track days.
Unfortunately some mechanical gremlins popped up right before FF Battle 10 and Meng did what any competitor would at least try to do: he borrowed a friend's car. The issues continued as the Civic coupe he piloted experienced some brake issues and put a halt to his progress (no pun intended), closing out the day with a 1:31.181.
Adan Calderon 1:32.494
No stranger to Streets of Willow, Adan's best lap time is a 1:28 behind the wheel of his S2000. For FF Battle he brought out his RSX Type S, which uses a K24 block/K20 head combo and Type R transmission.
Wide 17x10-inch WedsSport TC105N front wheels harnessed the power while an EP3 electric power steering unit helped ease the left to right action on his way to a 1:32.494.
Elton Lo 1:34.337
Not long after the event began, Elton Lo hit a roadblock with his turbo B20/VTEC '94 DX hatchback and he couldn't seem to get the car started again.
B-series distributors are well known to fail at the worst times and being well aware of this, Elton came prepared by lugging along a spare distributor just in case. Only later, with the help of spectator willing to offer up his personal Civic's distributor to test, would Elton realize that even his back-up unit was a dud, and his day ended far too early with a 1:34.337.
|Billy Jang||1996 Civic hatchback||1:23.409|
|Jose Mejia||1998 Integra||1:24.192|
|Amir Bentatou||1995 Civic hatchback||1.24:489|
|Sean Lucas||2000 Civic coupe||1:25.020|
|Dexter Piatos||1994 Integra||1:26.078|
|Gabriel Urias||1996 Civic coupe||1:27.383|
|Keith Maxon||2000 Civic sedan||1:28.122|
|Brandon Cruz||1992 Civic hatchback||1:29.092|
|Meng Tea||1995 Civic coupe||1:31.181|
|Adan Calderon||2005 RSX||1:32.494|
|Elton Lo||1994 Civic hatch||1:34.337|