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FF Battle 10 Presented By Eneos - The Street Class

Steven Kronemberger's 2017 Civic Type R clocks the quickest orbit around Streets of Willow at our 10th annual time attack

Sep 17, 2018
Photographer: Luke Munnell

A decade ago, FF Battle was a dream. It was a vision from a past staff of Super Street to pit against one another the best all-around performing front-engine, front-wheel drive cars that could be "legally" driven from point-A to point-B without a trailer. And for their first attempt all those years ago, organizers made it an all-Honda contest, using the "roval" at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to see specifically which power plant ruled the time attack roost—B-series or K-series. (Want to know how that first FF Battle went? Read about it here.)

Ff battle 10 street class cars Photo 2/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Cars

Ten FF Battles later the machinery, the scenery, and most of the people have changed, but the challenge is largely the same. Obv it's still open to just FWD entries, with a preference toward more modestly built, DIY type cars—but these days instead of it being all Honda/Acura we get the occasional outlier (hell, a Fiat won last year); this year in FFB's Street Class, those would be Jack Thomas's 2017 Ford Focus ST and Dan Gardner/DG Spec's 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan (yes, seriously). While we've used Auto Club on and off sparingly since 2009, our main go-to ribbon of tarmac most years (including 2018) is Willow Springs International Motorsports Park's 1.6-mile, 14-turn Streets of Willow Springs road course. And for a glimpse of the old dudes who were around then and remain around now, look for Sportcar Motion's Loi Song and Raceline USA's Elton Lo in our separate Race Class coverage.

Ff battle 10 street class Toyota Sienna Photo 3/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Toyota Sienna
FF battle 10 race class ENEOS Photo 4/80   |   FF Battle 10 Race Class ENEOS
FF battle 10 race class spec clutches and flywheels Photo 5/80   |   FF Battle 10 Race Class Spec Clutches And Flywheels

As far as what makes a Street Class car—all entries had to be driven by the registered owner of the vehicle, and engine and trans swaps were allowed. Factory glass windows were required, as were functioning headlights, taillights, and mirrors. Altering OEM suspension pickup points was not allowed, and cars were permitted to run only on unleaded gasoline (ethanol and special blends were a no-no). You had to have your stock exterior panels in place, as well as the forward part of the OEM interior; aero effects were limited to single-element components; and lastly tires were restricted to 200 (+) treadwear and a max width of 265.

It may be unavoidable at this point, but the bulk of the 13-car field for FFB10's Street Class was Honda, though we tried to add variety to the influx of Civic and Integra with Tony Jackson's TSX and Chris Arias's CRX. Additionally, only four of the chassis on track were built after 2014, Gardner's Sienna, Thomas's Focus ST, Nick Zambrano's 2017 Civic Si, and Street Class winner Steven Kronemberger's 2017 Civic Type R.

Somewhat ironically, Street Class's only competitor from outside of California ended up having his car destroyed shortly after arriving to the state. JT Teng was hauling his B18C1-swapped EH Civic DX from Texas and had some time before the event to cruise around SoCal; during his sightseeing excursion, he was involved in a freeway accident that ultimately disabled his car, which then led to a much gnarlier wreck just moments later that pretty much demolished his hatchback (as you can see in our photos). Had JT not had the wherewithal to escape the Civic when it was disabled, this story surely would have been much grimmer, but he did and we're all grateful things didn't take a turn for the worse.

STEVEN KRONEMBERGER
2017 Honda Civic Type R
1:23.842—WINNING LAP

We were happy to have among FFB competitors both a new Honda Civic Type R and new Si (Nick Zambrano's), as mechanical engineer Kronemberger illustrated effectively the CTR's worth, taking his turbo K20C'ed machine to the top of the timesheet with a quick lap that was a whopping 3.5 seconds faster than the next in class and just 0.4 of a second off the best time in the Race Class (cars that are generally faster than those in Street Class).

Ff battle 10 street class Type R Photo 9/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Type R

Kronemberger didn't do much to his FK8 before FFB10. To tap some additional ponies out the mill, Hondata loaded up a torque-ier base map into the ECU with its FlashPro, while Steven aided engine cooling with a GReddy oil cooler, PRL intercooler, and a front grille with more airflow. The car sticks better thanks to JRZ RS Pro coilovers, an Eibach rear anti-sway bar, and Bridgestone Potenza RE71R-shod Titan7 wheels, and also stops better with Girodisc two-piece brake rotors and Raybestos ST43 pads.

MICHAEL CAPUTO
1997 Honda Civic CX (B18C engine swap)
1:27.358

Caputo's red hatch was the best of the rest, sporting under hood a fully built '98 spec-and-up B18C Type R engine and transaxle with LSD. A Koyo aluminum radiator, BattleCraft custom engine harness, 2.5-inch custom exhaust, Vibrant muffler, Innovative steel engine mounts, and Hondata S300 V2 support the motor, while an Exedy Stage 1 clutch facilitates the power transfer.

Ff battle 10 street class Michael Caputo Civic hatch Photo 10/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Michael Caputo Civic Hatch

Suspension has been upgraded with Exceed SSD coilovers, Swift springs, and beefier stabilizer bars—a 26mm-diameter EK9 OEM version in front and 24mm ASR version in back—while brakes got made over with CR-V forward rotors and calipers, Integra rear rotors and calipers, and Project Mu Club Racer pads all around. The crazy staggered wheel setup on Michael's Civic is made up of 16x7-inch, +42 offset Volk TE37s in front with a 15mm spacer and 15x7, +30 Kosei K1 rims in back.

CHRIS ARIAS
1991 Honda CRX (B18C engine swap)
1:27.641

We're gonna stick our neck out a bit and say Arias's car was arguably the crowd favorite at FFB10—such a clean execution, and for a car that's almost 30 years old! It certainly didn't move like an old car, due primarily to the rebuilt '96-spec JDM Type R B18C and gearbox swapped into the engine bay.

Ff battle 10 street class CRX Photo 11/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class CRX

The CRX's athleticism was further enhanced with a laundry list of chassis mods that includes an Eibach Multi Pro R2 suspension; PCI front upper control arms, spherical rear trailing arm bushings, and rear camber kit; ASR anchor arms and 24mm diameter rear antiroll bar; and much more. Each corner of the Rex houses Wilwood DPHA brakes and Volk TE37SL 15x8-inch, +35 offset rims, but it's that exterior that drove everyone crazy; Arias says the look is made up of Deep Seban fender overlays; J's Racing front bumper and rear spoiler; Mugen rear spoiler; PCI side skirts and front splitter brackets; Tracklife fender cutouts; and custom air damn and carbon fiber hood vents with Professional Awesome Racing air ducts.

JOSE SANDIEGO
1997 Honda Civic (K24 engine swap)
1:28.188

Ff battle 10 street class jose Sandiego Civic Photo 12/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Jose Sandiego Civic

With the JDM version of Honda's 2.4-liter K motivator in this hatch and a K24Z3 trans, Sandiego wheeled his sixth-gen. Civic to fourth in class. The EJ also features Tein Monoflex suspension; Hardrace front and rear camber arms, rear toe arms, and bushings; Integra Type R brake calipers; Hawk DTC 60 brake pads; Goodrich stainless steel brake lines; and 15x8-inch, +25 Volk Racing TE37V wheels.

MUOI TRAN
2000 Honda Civic CX (B16B engine swap)
1:28.193

Ff battle 10 street class Muoi tran Civic Photo 13/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Muoi Tran Civic

Finishing in fifth, Street Class's only female has a JDM B16B mill and built '98 and up-spec ITR transmission in the engine compartment of her hatch. It rides on Exceed SSD coilovers and Swift springs, and stops with Integra Type R front brake calipers, Mini Cooper front rotors, and EM1 Civic Si rear brakes.

JASON KIM
2001 Acura Integra Type R
1:28.739

Ff battle 10 street class jason Kim Photo 14/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Jason Kim

Kim is a regular at our events, and his ITR features JRZ RS1 and Swift Springs suspension, Project Mu brakes, and Volk TE37 wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S rubber. The DC2 also sports a JDM front with HID lights and side marker lights, Spoon Sports front lip, and J's Racing air duct.

DAN GARDNER
2015 Toyota Sienna
1:28.862

012ff battle 10 street class dan gardner toyota Sienna Photo 15/80   |   012Ff Battle 10 Street Class Dan Gardner Toyota Sienna

It's fair to say this was the oddball of the group—a family minivan prepped for the track. The build is expectedly a little bit of the usual (OS Giken LSD, Enkei RPF1 rollers), the unusual (Kaminari carbon-fiber hood—there's a brand we haven't seen in a minute), and the custom (DG-Spec one-off parts all over the family hauler).

TONY JACKSON
2004 Acura TSX
1:29.086

013ff battle 10 street class tony jackson TSX Photo 16/80   |   013Ff Battle 10 Street Class Tony Jackson TSX

Jackson's sedan has a custom set of Eibach Multi-Pro R2 coilovers, most bushings have been replaced, and Eibach adjustable camber arms front and rear. Its K24 is relatively stock with the exception of a Hondata re-flash, CT Engineering air box, and PLM header. Tony ditched the factory trans for the Euro Accord Type R (CL7) version, whish has a LSD and much closer gearing.

JACK THOMAS
2017 Ford Focus ST
1:29.849

014ff battle 10 street class jack thomas Focus ST Photo 17/80   |   014Ff Battle 10 Street Class Jack Thomas Focus ST

Thomas seemed to mainly stick to just a few key brands in assembling the field's only other non-Honda; for the power plant, that meant a full complement of Mountune bits like their intercooler and high-performance radiator and high-flow intake, as well as catch cans from Radium. Chassis bracing and traction enhancements came from TB Performance, the front splitter, side extensions, and rear diffuser from Rally Innovations, and the 5-door hatch rides on CKS Suspension race spec 2-way coilovers, 18x8.5-inch Bavar Racing BVR-02 wheels, and 225/40 17 Bridgestone RE-71R tires.

NICOLAS ZAMBRANO
2017 Honda Civic Si
1:34.339

Ff battle 10 street class nicolas zambrano Civic Si Photo 18/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Nicolas Zambrano Civic Si

With such a new platform, Zambrano's mod list was on the light side compared to some others; a Hondata Flash-Pro custom tune, 27Won drop-in turbo, custom downpipe, and Injen intake, intercooler, and charge pipes all help wring the most out of the sedan's L15 heart. Zambrano also had installed a Seibon carbon hood, HKS coilovers, Wilwood big brake kit, and SSR GTX01 wheels at each corner.

JOAKIM MACASERO
1995 Honda Civic
1:34.965

Ff battle 10 street class joakim Macasero Civic Photo 19/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Joakim Macasero Civic

Joe's EH chassis build (still with its single-cam D15B7!) is designed to show anybody with a little bit of mechanical ability and the desire to learn how to drive can time attack on the cheap. Most significant upgrades include the McLeod Tuner Series Street Supreme clutch (where Macasero works in Import Sales), the Progress Technology coilovers, and Falken Azenis RT615K tires.

JONATHAN POSADAS
1991 Honda Civic (ZC engine swap)
1:35.305

Ff battle 10 street class jonathan Posadas Civic Photo 20/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Jonathan Posadas Civic

Posadas's ED hatch is tied with Arias's CRX as the oldest competitor on the grid, and is arguably equally unique. Exhibit A is the SOHC non-VTEC ZC engine swap sitting in the engine bay, converted to MPFI and modded with a DC Sports header, straight pipe, short-ram intake with velocity stack, and refreshed Synchrotech Si cable trans. Aero includes a VIS Chargespeed-style wing, CS-style front lip, and custom side skirts.

JUSTIN LUMAGUE
1995 Acura Integra RS (B18C engine swap)
1:42.938

Ff battle 10 street class Justin Luamgue Integra Photo 21/80   |   Ff Battle 10 Street Class Justin Luamgue Integra

The field's second DC2 boasts a Jackson Racing supercharger, RC injectors, AEM cold-air intake, and custom exhaust on its Hondata-managed B18. Buddyclub N+ coilovers and Skunk2 front and rear camber kits sharpen handling, and Lumague's wheels of choice for FFB10 were 16x7-inch, +42 offset Work Meister S1s.

2018 FF Battle RESULTS - Streets of Willow Springs Calif.
1.Steven Kronemberger2017 Honda Civic Type R1:23.842
2.Michael Caputo1997 Honda Civic CX1:27.358
3.Chris Arias1991 Honda CRX1:27.641
4.Jose Sandiego1997 Honda Civic1:28.188
5.Muoi Tran2000 Honda Civic CX1:28.193
6.Jason Kim2001 Acura Integra Type R1:28.739
7.Dan Gardner2015 Toyota Sienna1:28.862
8.Tony Jackson2004 Acura TSX1:29.086
9.Jack Thomas2017 Ford Focus ST1:29.849
10.Nicolas Zambrano2017 Honda Civic Si1:34.339
11.Joakim Macasero1995 Honda Civic1:34.965
12.Jonathan Posadas1991 Honda Civic1:35.305
13.Justin Lumague1995 Acura Integra RS1:42.938
Bob Hernandez
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