Ten years in the making, the Super Street FF Battle is a time-attack event that comprises a field made up of novice and experienced drivers. If you have no idea what FF is, it stands for front-engine, front-wheel drive. So why do we put on this event, especially when we could be hosting allegedly more exciting all-wheel- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles? Well, it's because FF cars are often considered underpowered, understeering, unfun cars to drive. They're viewed as the underdogs, when in hindsight, they're very capable on the circuit, and in some instances faster. We're also big fans of the older Hondas and Acuras that enter our event. These 20-year-old, budget-built street/race cars can hang with the big boys—outstandingly well on a tight, technical 16-turn, 1.6-mile road course like the Streets of Willow Springs in Rosamond, California. So, after nine years of putting this show on, we've finally reached a decade—FF Battle 10, our largest and most competitive field to date.
At FF Battle 9 in 2017, we shook things up by separating the field into two run groups, Street and Race, to level the playing field. The result was a tight battle for the top positions in both classes. In addition, we applied a few important changes to keep things fair in the Street Class, while Race Class rules were similar to an unlimited time-attack: hired drivers were allowed, there were no limitations on engine/transmission swaps and aero, and entrants had the ability to use a 100(+) treadwear tire.
After receiving a huge influx of event hopefuls (more than 80 entrees!) our list was narrowed down to 11 Race Class competitors and 13 Street Class drivers. Similar to FF Battles of the past, the lineup was unapologetically Honda heavy. 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 cars and people on hand. But we also had a few wild cards to watch out for, including a Toyota Sienna minivan, Acura TSX, Ford Focus ST, and 10th-gen Civic Si.
Much like FF Battle 9 played out, the top three in each class were very close, and it should also be noted that the top three lap times in the Race Class were in fact faster than 2017's top three finishers—even with the elevated temps this year. However, this was the first year we did away with a control tire.
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 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.
This Civic is Duane's first experience with K-Series power, and with Billy behind the wheel, they were able to lay down an impressive 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 has since been sold, but its new owner competed at this year's event as well). And exactly how fast is 1:23.409? Pro race car driver Randy Pobst put down a 1:23.73 in a stock BMW M4 and a 1:24.05 in a stock Lexus RC F! Well done, Billy and Duane!
On Billy'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 powerplant 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 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 we'd like to see resurrected at FF Battle 11 later this year!
Amir is no stranger here. 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 seen quite a few changes since then—but it's only been on the track once since those updates. FF Battle 10 served as a testbed 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 Third Place finish.
All entries had to be driven by the registered owner of the vehicle, and 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). All stock exterior panels, as well as the forward part of the OEM interior, were to be in place on race day, and aero effects were limited to single-element components. Lastly, tire choices were open, however, they were restricted to 200 (+) treadwear and a max width of 265.
We were happy to have both a new Honda Civic Type R and new Si (Nick Zambrano's) in the midst. A mechanical engineer by trade, Kronemberger illustrated how effective the FK8 CTR is, taking his turbo K20C'd machine to the top of the timesheet with a lap that was a whopping 3.5 seconds faster than the next in its class, and just four-tenths of a second off the best time in the Race Class (cars that are generally faster than those in Street Class).
Caputo's red hatch was the best of the rest, sporting a fully built '98 spec-and-up B18C Type R engine and transaxle with limited-slip under the hood. A Koyo aluminum radiator, BattleCraft custom engine harness, 2.5-inch exhaust, Vibrant muffler, Innovative steel engine mounts, and Hondata S300 V2 support the motor, while an Exedy clutch facilitates the power transfer.
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 Volk TE37s in front and 15x7 Kosei K1 rims in back.
We're gonna stick our neck out a bit and say Arias' 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.
The CRX's athleticism was further enhanced with a list of chassis mods that include 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 roll bar; and much more. Each corner of the 'Rex houses Wilwood DPHA brakes and 15x8 Volk TE37SLs. 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 dam and carbon-fiber hood vents with Professional Awesome Racing air ducts.
|1. Billy Jang||1996 Honda Civic||1:23.409|
|2. Jose Mejia||1998 Acura Integra||1:24.192|
|3. Amir Bentatou||1995 Honda Civic||1.24:489|
|4. Sean Lucas||2000 Honda Civic||1:25.020|
|5. Dexter Piatos||1994 Acura Integra||1:26.078|
|6. Gabriel Urias||1996 Honda Civic||1:27.383|
|7. Keith Maxon||2000 Honda Civic||1:28.122|
|8. Brandon Cruz||1992 Honda Civic||1:29.092|
|9. Meng Tea||1995 Honda Civic||1:31.181|
|10. Adan Calderon||2005 Acura RSX||1:32.494|
|11. Elton Lo||1994 Honda Civic||1:34.337|
|1. Steven Kronemberger||2017 Honda Civic Type R||1:23.842|
|2. Michael Caputo||1997 Honda Civic||1:27.358|
|3. Chris Arias||1991 Honda CRX||1:27.641|
|4. Jose Sandiego||1997 Honda Civic||1:28.188|
|5. Muoi Tran||2000 Honda Civic||1:28.193|
|6. Jason Kim||2001 Acura Integra Type R||1:28.739|
|7. Dan Gardner||2015 Toyota Sienna||1:28.862|
|8. Tony Jackson||2004 Acura TSX||1:29.086|
|9. Jack Thomas||2017 Ford Focus ST||1:29.849|
|10. Nicolas Zambrano||2017 Honda Civic Si||1:34.339|
|11. Joakim Macasero||1995 Honda Civic||1:34.965|
|12. Jonathan Posadas||1991 Honda Civic||1:35.305|
|13. Justin Lumague||1995 Acura Integra||1:42.938|