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Honda FF Battle 2009

Scene: FF Battle Presented By General Tires; Autoclub Speedway - Fontana, CA

Super Street Staff
Sep 17, 2009

As passionate and devoted followers to the Honda family, it has always been a dream of ours (and many others) to see an event that could bring together the very cars that we've become synonymous for featuring, along with those we've seen become famous because of the Internet, and put them to the test. Catalog cars, as we commonly refer them to, because that's what most of these cars are built from - the best parts, the rarest parts, all hand picked from catalogs that make you dream until your brain goes numb and your VTEC goes 'wah-WAHHHH!' Who hasn't dropped a ton of cash collecting rare JDM parts on Yahoo Japan or had an engine built to the max by a US tuner, only to do nothing more than park the car at home or bring them out for the occasional car meet, just so you can get those Interweb props? You mean you built that crazy-ass (insert your chassis code here) and don't even want to track it? "Ahh jeez", you don't want rock chips? Please. That's why we designed the FF Honda Battle, so you can put those projects to work and see glorious results.

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Our concept for this challenge was quite simple. We wanted the best street-built/driven cars, the ones found on the daily in basically every Honda-Tech and NWP build thread. Cars you are more likely to not find in the Unlimited class for Super Lap Battle, mostly because a) this isn't Super Lap and b) it's not a true time attack by definition. What we were desperately seeking were cars that are good all-around performers that can still be legally driven from point-A to point-B without a trailer. Whether they meet the strict smog laws of California is debatable, but so long as the DMV can issue registration papers to the car, they're good. Knowing this, we had to think about what kind of Hondas would be best suited for our first go at an all-exclusive Honda event. With so many great platforms to choose from, we decided it'd be best to not go with a particular chassis, but instead go with two popular engines, mainly because the desirable cars (EF/EG/EJ/EK/FD Civics and DC2 Integras) tend to have these engines swapped (and in some cases come stock) into them anyway. Thus the decision to dub our first Honda battle: B versus K.

2019 Honda Civic
$21,450 Base Model (MSRP) MPG Fuel Economy

The tough part came next: picking the cars.

With connections deep in the Honda world, we spread the word as fast as our 14.4k modems and pigeon couriers could push out. While we originally planned for this event to take place in October (we know, the timing is off thanks to our print schedule), we moved the date up further into July to coincide with a NASA HPDE event, which also hosts our Super Lap Battle qualifier and the Honda Challenge series. That meant we had little time to get the word out and we thought best to search for our local heroes. Sean and Charles attacked the two biggest Honda forums - and - to ask those sites' usual suspects if they were down; JDMWong enlisted his strongest soldier, John "Mi Den" Nguyen at AEM to work his magic, reaching out to the underground masses you don't see parading around as Internet celebrities. Since every owner had varying track experience, we called Andy Hope and Jeremy Croiset, two veteran drivers with lots of track time, to come test these cars to the best of their abilities. Our initial idea was to have Andy Hope drive all the cars, but with the time constraints of other NASA-run groups being merged together, we felt that the addition of Jeremy could help give us some accurate feedback.

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After finding the right drivers, we quickly found our run groups with plenty of back-ups to boot. Representing the original B-Series B-boys, we had: Kane Chan from Street Image Performance, Chris Tong of Quiktek, Gil Corona from Circuit Hero, Charles Tran and Reza Yaghoubi (who at the last minute pulled out due to a mechanical problem); the K-Series clan consisting of Loi Song from Sportcar Motion, Will Salazar (also representing Circuit Hero), Mike Chang of Evasive Motorsports, Raceline's Elton Lo and the infamous Katman, or as he's known otherwise in the civilian world, Jason Kaplan.

With our choices nailed down, we brought all our competitors and drivers together for a two-day event at the Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, California. The first day would put all the cars onto the track for timed lap sessions while the second would focus on dyno figures and a local car meet so readers could come see these cars in action. Let's see how they did:

B-Series - Lap Time: 2:06.730 - Power: 173.9whp, 123.49 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1992 Honda Civic
Charles Tran
Engine: B18C1 (1800cc)
Power Adders: Skunk2 intake manifold, Comptech header, 2.5" exhaust, balanced and blueprinted rebuild
Suspension: TEIN RA
Springs: TEIN 14k (front), 10k (rear)
Sway Bars: Civic (front), Comptech 22mm (rear)
Brakes: Hawk HP+ pads
Final Drive: GS-R 4.4
Wheels: Enkei RPF1 15x7" +31 (front), 15x7" +23 (rear)
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 205/50R15 (front), 205/50R15 (rear)

Sstp_0911_09+honda_ff_battle_2009+charles_tran Photo 4/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009

Driver's Impression
Predicatble, very stable due to good aero, great for beginning driver.
Cons: Bouncy struts, pad knock, open diff and final drive.
Comments And Advice: Check wheel bearings, bleed brakes, get a LSD and shorter final drive. "Overall the car is pretty good for someone to learn how to drive quick. Suspension was good but just doesn't have enough rebound causing it to bounce. This car is setup for H2 so the mods on the engine were very limited. Most stable car due to the aero". -Jeremy Croiset

K-Series - Lap Time: 2:05.174 - Power: 209.1whp, 146.18 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
2006 Honda Civic Si
Elton Lo
Engine: K20Z3 (2000cc)
Power Adders: DC race header, Toda Spec C cams, BDL throttle-body, RC 440 Injectors, Espelir exhaust
Suspension: Crux coilovers
Springs: Crux/Swift springs
Sway Bars: RGS 21mm (rear)brakes RGS calipers, RGS 330mm rotors (front), RGS pads (front), Project Mu pads (rear) lsd KAAZ 1.5 way
Final Drive: CTR 5.06
Wheels: Volk TE37 18x9.5" +22 (front), Volk TE37 18x7.5" +40 (rear)
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 265/35ZR18 (front), 235/40ZR18 (rear)

Sstp_0911_04+honda_ff_battle_2009+elton_lo Photo 8/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009

Driver's Impression
Transition, response, nimble, very well tuned suspension, solid cornering, lateral grip, and gearing.
Cons: Broken seat slider and over-boosted front brakes.
Comments And Advice: Lessen front braking and get the seat slider to lock! "Surprised how lively this car felt. Much more tossable than most newer Hondas. The MacPherson struts are just inferior to the older Hondas, but the suspension settings were great on this one. Probably one of the best on a newer Honda I've driven." Rear end was very solid and predictable in turns. Plenty of lateral grip. "Speedometer in the banking was reading 145mph." The over-braking made it hard to heel toe. -Andy Hope

B-Series - Lap Time: 2:04.760 - Power: 191.3whp, 126.96 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
2000 Honda Civic CX
Chris Tong
Engine: B18C5 (1800cc)
Power Adders: Mugen headgasket, Buddy Club Spec 2 exhaust, Mugen intake, Hytech header
Suspension: Endless Zeal S6
Springs: Zeal/Swift 14k (front), 10k (rear)
Sway Bars: CTR 26mm (front), Comptech 22mm (rear)
Brakes: Spoon calipers, CTR rear brakes, StopTech rotors, Carbotech XP12 pads (front), XP10 pads (rear)
LSD: KAAZ 1.5 way
Final Drive: SRR 4.9
Wheels: Mugen MF10 16x7" +43
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 225/50R16

Sstp_0911_14+honda_ff_battle_2009+chris_tong Photo 13/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009

Driver's Impression
Very neutral, trail braking, brake modulation, camber setting, handling, very easy to maneuver, easy to rotate, great grip, like new suspension and bushings.
Cons: Unstable under hard braking, rear brakes locking up and power.
Comments And Advice: Build more power, change rear pads to lighter compound and some very fine-tuning on the suspension. "Less aggressive pad in the rear. The rears would lock up and it made it very unstable unless you were braking while going straight. The car was very flickable and it was the only car that rotated properly today. Hands down the best car I've driven here. Obvious someone took the time to tune the suspension and chassis for the track." -JC

K-Series - Lap Time: 2:04.741 - Power: 209.1whp, 150.0 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
2008 Honda Civic Si
Mike Chang
Engine: K20Z3 (2000cc)
Power Adders: Vibrant header, Evasive custom 70mm exhaust, Exedy clutch
Suspension: TEIN Mono Flex
Springs: TEIN 10k (front), 12k (rear)
Sway Bars: Eibach 19mm (rear)
Brakes: Endless front caliper, Endless MX72 pads
LSD: KAAZ 1.5 way
Final Drive: CTR 5.06
Wheels: 57 Motorsport G07WT 18x9" +30 (front), 18x8" +35 (rear)
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 255/35ZR18 (front), 225/40ZR18 (rear)

Sstp_0911_15+honda_ff_battle_2009+mike_chang Photo 18/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009

Driver's Impression
High-speed stability, ABS and braking, easy to throw around, very easy to Drive, and great street/track balance.
Cons: Power steering, long gearing and soft rear springs.
Comments And Advice: Stiffen up the rear and disconnect power steering for short sprints like this. "At high speeds it was very stable. I was surprised. It would not want to turn in as early, due to the ABS. The dual electronic power steering gave less driver feel so you couldn't tell the when the front tires were at their optimum slip angle."-AH

B-Series - Lap Time: 2:04.058 - Power: 190.9whp, 135.29 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1988 Honda Civic
Gilbert Corona
Engine: B20 VTEC (2000cc)
Power Adders: JB cams, RS Machine 11.8:1 pistons, A-Sports ITB, Hytech header
Suspension: TEIN HA
Springs: TEIN 8k (front), 10k (rear)
Sway Bars: Integra DA 22mm (front), Civic EF 15mm (rear)
Brakes: Hawk HPS pads, drilled rotors, CR-X Si rear disc brakes
LSD: KAAZ 1.5 way
Final Drive: SiR 4.4
Wheels: Enkei RPF1 15x7" +41
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 205/50R15 (front), 205/50R15 (rear)

Sstp_0911_16+honda_ff_battle_2009+gilbert_corona Photo 22/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009

Driver's Impression
Alignment, gearing, spring rates and power. Very forgiving, great for a new Driver. "Spring rates were good for the tires".
Cons: Understeer, rear needs to rotate more. "Brakes are SCARY!"
Comments And Advice: Upgrade brakes and get the largest rear sway bar available. "This track has brutal a 130mph to 40mph zone, and street brakes were not cutting it." Also upgrade struts. "Although the spring rates were good, the struts could use more rebound". -JC

1st Place B-series - Lap Time: 2:04.683 - Power: 223.7whp, 159.64 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1994 Honda Civic
Owner: Kane Chan
Engine: B16B (2000cc)
Power Adders: Toda C cams, Eagle rods and crank, Arias 13:1 pistons, Port Flow head, AEM EMS, Skunk2 MegaPower header
Suspension: TEIN RE coilovers
Springs: TEIN 14k (front), 10k (rear)
Sway Bars: Integra Type R 25mm (front), 23mm (rear)
Brakes: Integra brakes, Power Slot rotors, Project Mu pads
Final Drive: SiR 4.4
Wheels: Volk CE28 16x7" +42
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 205/45R16 (front), 205/45R16 (rear)

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Driver's Impression
Throttle response, power, brake modulation, corner exit and B-series shift linkage!
Cons: Rear suspension (too soft springs and toe), overflowing catch can, and bushings.
Comments And Advice: Get stiffer springs in the rear, new rear bushings, alignment, and remove or relocate catch can higher. "Most impressive thing was the throttle response, even over all the K-series cars. Suspension or alignment for some reason just didn't feel right. The overflowing catch can was a problem limiting us to only one hot lap. The last corner coming onto the oval the rear wheel picked up some of the spilling oil and I was at full lock counter steer on the last turn. A better lap could have definitely been obtained. Check all suspension pickup points. Bushings could be worn out. -AH

3rd Place Winner - K-Series - Lap Time: 2:03.242 - Power: 214.8whp 158.77 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1992 Honda Civic
Jason 'Katman' Kaplan
Engine: K20A (2000cc)
Power Adders: Acura RDX 440cc injectors, AEM intake, Maxbore throttle body, Rcrew header, Hondata K-Pro ECU
Suspension: Koni SPSS3
Springs: Ground Control/Eibach 10k (front), 8k (rear)
Sway Bars: GS-R 24mm (front), ITR 22mm (rear)
Brakes: Spoon calipers 11.1" rotors (front), ITR 10.2" (rear)
LSD: Wavetrac
Final Drive: ITR 5.06
Wheels: Ram's PR-6 15x8" +35 (front), 15x6.5" +45 (rear)
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 205/50R15

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Driver's Impression
Well-balanced, alignment, tuned suspension, brake modulation and very predictable.
Cons: JDM cluster
Comments And Advice: Car is great for many track days, just needs a bucket seat and roll bar. "Hard to nit-pick this car because everything functioned very well. Suspension and alignment set up was best suited for these tires. Other cars were more setup for R compound tires. If I had to go to a bunch of track days, this would be the car I would want to take." -AH

2nd Place Winner - K-Series - Lap Time: 2:00.621 - Power: 240.5whp, 160.42 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1993 Civic CX
Will Salazar
Engine: K20Z1 (2000cc)
Power Adders: Skunk2 cams, Circuit Hero intake, Rcrew header, BDL throttle body, RBC manifold, Hondata K-Pro ECU
Suspension: TEIN RS
Springs: Eibach 14k (front), 16k (rear)
Sway Bars: ITR 25mm (front), Comptech 22mm (rear)
Brakes: Spoon front calipers, 11.1" front drilled rotors, Hawk HP+ pads
Final Drive: 4.7
Wheels: Weds Sport TC05 16x7" +42
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 205/45R16

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Driver's Impression
Power, gearing, differential and brakes.
Cons: Not enough rear rotation, front end doesn't grip enough, and alignment.
Comments And Advice: Get an alignment, bigger rear sway bar and stiffer front springs. "Needs much more front spring rate. As soon as you turn the car in, the front can't take all the power. More spring will give it more bite on the outer front wheel". -JC

1st Place Winner - K-Series - Lap Time: 1:58.947 - Power: 274.2whp, 196.5 ft-lb
FF Fast Facts
1996 Acura Integra Type-R
Loi Song
Engine: K24A4 (2400cc)
Power Adders: K20A2 head, 88mm bore, Skunk2 cams, DTR header, Hondata K-Pro, 13.7:1 Weisco pistons, Port Flow head, Maxlite rods
Suspension: TEIN SRC
TEIN 18k (front), 14k (rear)
Sway Bars: Cusco 23mm rear
Brakes: Hawk Blue
LSD: KAAZ 1.5 way
Final Drive: 4.78
Wheels: Enkei RPF1 16x8" +32
Tires: General Exclaim UHP 225/50R16

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Driver's Impression
Power, handling, 6th gear pull, and great for trail braking.
Cons: ABS and brake pads.
Comments And Advice: Change brake compound and look into faulty ABS. "An absolute handful. So much fun. The brakes pads did have too much initial bite, especially the rear, so it was hard to modulate. The rears would even lock up before the fronts, but this helped corner entry for trail braking. Corner exit was awesome with too much power. The sensation of speed was amazing." -AH

The first day of FF Battle was our track-testing portion. Despite having two no-shows and a late arrival everything worked out. The first session of the day was a lead-follow where the owners/drivers of the entered cars followed one of our test drivers, Andy Hope, in his immaculate EF hatch to learn the line of the track.

After the warm up session, the cars were split up into groups so that Andy and our other test driver, Jeremy Croiset, could drive the cars for fastest lap time and performance analysis. Once the cars were tested the drivers were able to relay their feedback to owners for suggestions on improving car feel and performance.

In the initial test session we had four cars go out, Loi Song's DC2 and Will Salazar's EG hatch were the first on track. Both looked blazing fast for cars on street tires and although we couldn't officially confirm it with times, they appeared to be the cars to beat. The next pair out on track was Gilbert Corona's EF hatch and Mike Chang's JDM FD2 replica, both looking quick but not as fast as the first two. There was almost no tire squeal coming off the FD2, a testament to how easy the vehicle is to drive.

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For the second testing session we only had three cars go out, because at that point they were the only other cars in attendance. Kane Chan's EJ coupe was able to nail the fastest lap time of the second session despite oil consumption issues and nearly spinning out from oil spilling under the body and onto the tires. The coupe also received very high praise from driver Andy Hope for having the most responsive throttle of any of the cars he drove. Also out in the second session was Chris Tong's EK hatch, sporting uber-hot Mugen MF10s on the track! Andy also had an interesting time in Elton Lo's FG coupe, with seat rails not locking into place and brake overkill it made for a wild ride.

In the third and final testing session we had a late arrival from Jason Kaplan, aka "Katman" of FF Squad fame. We also had a guest appearance from Charles Tran whom just happened to be at the track with a B-Series powered EG and able to join the roster. So the final session was EG vs EG, B-Series vs K-Series, probably the most evenly matched pair of the whole event. Andy loved Katman's car, adding that the only things he would change would be a rollcage and a seat upgrade so that he could take the car out and feel safe really pushing it.

At the end of the day when we got all the timing info it was no surprise, Loi's DC2 had annihilated the field - just like it appeared when on track. Roughly two seconds behind Loi was Will, who's EG was out on track at the same time, then in a fairly close third Katman's EG. It was a K-Series podium sweep for the track portion, but we still had dyno testing to complete the following day.

To perform the dyno session we had to get an expert and relied on Bisi Ezerioha from Bisimoto along with Dynapack to perform the tests. Even before the cars were hooked up to the Dynapack units everyone had a pretty good idea how things would unfold. The fastest two cars on the track, Loi Song's Integra and Will Salazar's Civic, were also one-two in dyno results. Loi's car pulling the biggest numbers of the day with an incredible 263.5 hp and 188.8 lb-ft of torque, more torque than some cars made horsepower! Again it was a K-Series landslide where every K-powered car breached 200hp. Kane Chan was the only B Series to break the 200 hp mark, coming in at 215.2 hp and 153.51 lb-ft.

Despite the initial setbacks of being two cars down, the event was a huge success. It was definitely the most fun we've had at the track while not driving and we really hope to have a car of our own ready for the next one (That would be mine. - SK). Moving forward, we are already in the works of setting up our next FF Battle and are considering doing regional events so we can cover more of the US than just Southern California. If you are interested in entering FF Battle or seeing an FF Battle event come to your town drop us an email at with the subject "FF Battle" and we promise we'll look at every one.'

General Tires Exclaim UHP
Since this was a street car challenge, we decided to put the cars on street tires. We couldn't put the cars on R compounds and expect them to change out their entire suspension settings just for a few laps. We wanted to have the cars compete the way they were built, as street cars. Plus forcing the contestants to use street tires meant a more even playing field. Anyone who tried to come in with a track prepped racecar would not do as well.

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The Exclaim UHP is a great all-season tire offering great grip, handling, traction, cornering and braking. Made up of a ultra-high performance silica compound allows for great grip in dry conditions. The Optimized Double V-shaped, Lateral Wave tread design effectively evacuates water for a superb grip and anti-hyrdoplan in wet conditions.

Ultra-high performance
Available Sizes: 15" - 24"
Speed Rating: V and W
UTQG Treadwear Rating: 380 A A

Sstp_0911_41+honda_ff_battle_2009+general_exclaim_uhp_profile Photo 54/61   |   Honda FF Battle 2009
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