Functional and fast. Both are words that describe the Hasport '95 Integra sedan that carried Bernardo Martinez to victory in the 2007 NASA Honda Challenge Championship. There's little on it that doesn't belong-in other words, no bling for bling's sake-it's all about lap times and reliability. In Bernardo's world, finishing and finishing first are all that really matter.
The relationship between Hasport and Bernardo began in 2003. Keith and Brian Gillespie of Hasport have each been active racers for many years. They saw the emerging interest in time-attack events as a perfect showcase for their company's products. Unfortunately, the demands of business and their families left them with little time to develop their own cars beyond the initial build. Bernardo had been working closely with Progress Group developing suspension for his multi-championship winning CRX. The Progress guys played matchmaker and recommended Bernardo to ease the load. The combination of his setup skills, his driving record and his familiarity of the same track where the time-attacked events were being held was ideal. Fast-forward a few years and the relationship has proven to be quite successful. Bernardo has taken the four-door Integra to First Place honor in three out the last five Super Street Time Attacks and placed second in the remaining two.
The buzz surrounding the car at the NASA Nationals was about the HyTech-built, S2000-pistoned, K24 engine powering it. A mandatory dyno test at nationals revealed what everyone already suspected. It had more power to the wheels than any other H1 car in history but to attribute Bernardo's victory to the engine alone would be overlooking much of what makes this car a champion. What is missing from that narrow view is the rest of the winning package. The suspension, brakes and aero get it through the turns as well as the engine pulls on the straight. There are plenty of tricks below the skin that are hidden from view.
Grip is a combination of the tire's contact patch size and the suspension's ability to keep that patch in contact with the track surface. Corner speed, of course, is all about maintaining grip. In this case, the contact patch comes from steamroller-sized 255/40-R17 Toyo Proxes RA-1 on all four corners. It's easy not to notice all that rubber on 17x9 5Zigen wheels because they are tucked so neatly beneath the fenders. That is accomplished by a head-scratching +43mm offset and rear-trailing arms that have been notched to provide the necessary tire clearance. Camber adjustment is achieved with a pair of Skunk2 upper control arms in front and SPC adjustable upper links in the rear. Progress spherical bearings at both ends limit deflection and ensure the suspension geometry is consistent regardless of load.
Honda Challenge rules add a 75-pound weight penalty for any car running remote reservoir shocks. That's a price worth paying as far as Bernardo is concerned. The orange and gold Moton shocks he runs on the car provide a level of damping and adjustability that simply can't be found in self-contained units. Triple adjustable dampers on the front allow separate adjustment for high- and low-speed compression in addition to a full range of rebound adjustment. Double adjustables used at the rear provide 15 positions of bump and 15 more of rebound. Front and rear spring rates are 1,200 and 1,300 pounds, respectively. That may seem like a lot but aerodynamic downforce is a factor and plays a major roll in this Integra's setup. A stock anti-sway bar up front helps with transitional weight transfer, although most of the body roll is controlled by the springs. A 22mm Progress bar helps the car rotate in low-speed corners. The high-speed bends are tuned by trimming the car's aero package.
Bernardo put a lot of effort into the aerodynamic side of things. Hasport built a custom front splitter that he and Ed Flores of Progress Group fabricated brackets around. The resulting splitter installation is so rigid that Bernardo can stand on it to illustrate the point. TC Sportline trims rear downforce to taste with its adjustable wing. Lap records at every NASA track in Southern California, as well as the one at Mid-Ohio, are a testament to the astonishing level of grip this car displays in every turn it sees.
Braking capability with that amount of grip is equally well endowed. FastBrakes kits and Goodridge lines at both ends are optimized for balance, modulation and durability. Raybestos pads between Wilwood Superlite calipers capture 12.2-inch rotors up front. Custom titanium shims have been machined to sit between the pad and caliper surfaces in order to reduce heat sink. Rear calipers are stock but get extra leverage from Hawk Blue pads and larger, 11-inch diameter rotors. Braking pressure coming from a GSR 1-inch master cylinder is split between front and rear. A Wilwood proportioning valve on the rear provides fine-tuning of the brake bias to suit driver, setup and track conditions.
Bernardo is a minimalist in the cockpit. The Racetech seatbelts are his preferences for comfort and safety. A Sparco wheel was ordered in suede finish to give positive grip and reduced driver fatigue and there are no unnecessary gauges or accessories to distract him from his job behind the wheel. Any information he needs is provided by the AiM MXL Pista digital dash and data acquisition system. The dash has programmable alarms and warning lights for variables like oil pressure and water temperature. It is also integrated with the Hondata ECU to log all the engine data that goes through Hondata's thinking process. Bernardo keeps the driver feedback to a minimum while on the track, using only the water temperature gauge and Christmas tree-shaped shift lights to advise him of momentary engine conditions. The warning lights will alert him to problems, should they occur. All other data such as shift points, wheel speed, braking or cornering force is downloaded to a laptop and analyzed back in the paddock.
Within Honda Challenge, H1 has always been the class least restricted by the rules. Engine swaps are allowed as are hybrid engine builds as long as they use only OEM Honda and Acura parts in the bottom end. H1 has been the home to many built B18Cs and quite a few B20/VTEC engines. When K-motors began getting affordable, they started showing up and running hard right out of the box; so well, in fact, that few bothered to build them to the full extent allowed by the rules. Why bother, right? With an intake, header and a good tune, most K-series powered cars were running competitively with fully built B-series cars allowed to weigh 200 pounds less. The K soon began to take the place of the ubiquitous B-series as the engine for H1. Rules were changed and weights were adjusted to keep the B-series in the hunt and for a while everything seemed fine.
John Grudynski, of HyTech Exhaust, has been building K-series engines from day one. When he and the guys from Hasport started talking about building an H1-legal engine that could also be used for time attacks, things got interesting very quickly. The resulting hybrid is a K24A1 block with '06 TSX rods connected to stock, forged, '05 Honda S2000 pistons. It runs an RSX oil pump and an Endyne ported cylinder head. In the effort to help keep the B-motors competitive in H1, K-series engines were not allowed to run aftermarket cams, only OEM cams were allowed, but the rules didn't say which OEM cams. The best power was found with a combination of an Integra (JDM) Type-R intake cam and an exhaust-side cam sourced from an '06 TSX. The TSX VTC cam gear was modified to allow 40 degrees of advance. One of Grudynski's beautiful anti-reversion chamber HyTech headers is mated to a Magnaflow exhaust. A Walbro fuel pump and Fluidyne radiator do their bit to keep the engine happy, while the Hondata K-Pro was tuned by Shawn Church of Church Automotive Testing. The whole package put out 293 hp at 7,500 rpm at the axles on Church's dyno and 253 hp at 7,500 rpm on the roller dyno used at Nationals. Those are big numbers for an H1 car-the biggest seen yet in the class.
Sadly, this combination of engine, chassis and driver has met its end. Everything worked a little too well and NASA's reaction was to jump into the rules to satisfy their customer base rather than let Darwin's theory have its way. At the time of this writing he had proposed that the 2008 H1 rules will outlaw the S2000 pistons, restrict K-series head porting and limit the K24's compression to 11:1. Last year's championship winning combo has been regulated into obsolescence.
Bernardo and Hasport are moving on to a new chassis and a new engine build for the 2008 season. They're ready to do it all again and ready to prove that 2007 was no fluke. Want to buy a car?