Project DC2 Now that Project DC2 has a solid powerplant and a capable suspension setup, it was time to finally put it to the test and find out how well it could perform. However, there were still a few loose ends to tie up before it laid down any rubber on the track. The K20A swap required removing some of the front suspension components, which undoubtedly ruined the old alignment setup. That, and I wanted a competent shop to provide me with a proper dual-purpose alignment. Having seen how well Evasive Motorsports' S2000 and Mitsu Evolution have done at time attacks, I knew they had enough experience to handle my needs.
I spoke to Mike Chang and Kel Yong and explained to them that I wanted a conservative setup that could handle the rigors of daily driving and mild track use. The plan is to test the car with a street-oriented alignment to see how well it fares, because I think most of you are in the same situation-your daily driver doubles as a track car. Later, as the car becomes more track-oriented, I'll come back and get a more aggressive alignment to maximize grip, regardless of tire wear, comfort or road noise.
Taking my request into consideration, Kel loaded the Integra onto Evasive's Snap-on alignment rack and crawled underneath to play with the camber and toe. After a good hour of tweaking and adjusting, he was done. The front setup consisted of negative 2.1 degrees of camber, while the rear was set to negative 1.25 degrees. Remarkably, ride height only needed a slight tweak up front, where it was raised 5mm.
My next stop was VIP Status in Torrance, CA, to have a fresh set of 225/45ZR15 Nitto NT01 tires mounted on 15x7-inch Volk Racing CE28Ns. If you're like me and don't like to eat up street tires at the track, then the Nitto NT01s are the perfect choice. Rated as a street-legal R-compound tire, they are incredibly sticky and don't need to be shaved to provide maximum grip; just mount them and run them, unless you're like me and always heat-cycleR-compounds (drive them on the highway for 60 miles and let them sit for 24 hours) before hitting the track. By now, I think everyone knows the benefits of running a Rays Engineering wheel like the Volk Racing CE28N, but let me remind you that not only are they forged and designed for the track but the 15x7-inch size weighs in at a scant 9 lbs! There's no better way to remove unsprung weight than by using a set of lightweight rims like the CE28N.
My last (and arguably most necessary) upgrade was a set of Project Mu Type HC Plus brake pads. With carbon metal construction and an operating range of 0-800 degrees Celsius, the Type HC pads are perfect for a vehicle like the Integra because they offer fade-free, aggressive stopping performance on the track while being completely user-friendly on the street. I've tested a lot of pads and find these to be ideal for a dual-purpose street/track car. They may be a bit pricey, but you won't be disappointed with the results.
With my toolbox and track wheels loaded up, I headed to California Speedway for NASA's HPDE ROVAL track weekend. Whether you're new to the track or on the other side of the spectrum, NASA events offer many different levels of instruction that help you learn how to safely drive on a road course or fine-tune your already excellent driving skills.
The ROVAL configuration that I would be running consists of the infield track of California Speedway, which is the slow portion and the high-speed section is along the bank where the car is at full throttle for what seems like an eternity (roughly 30 seconds)-it's a horsepower track, no doubt. After getting comfortable with the high speed and finding my line, I put in two days of hard lapping and am happy to report that the Integra performed exceptionally well with such little suspension setup. I played with the KW V3 coilovers to stiffen the rear up and get the car to rotate a bit more, but otherwise the alignment setup and Nitto NT01 tires were exceptional. It's staggering how much difference the right set of pads and tires make not only in lap times but also confidence. There wasn't a moment where I was worried about coming to a stop or blowing a corner despite some very late trail braking techniques that almost got the car completely sideways.
I did, however, realize a few shortcomings-the most obvious one being how badly I need a proper differential. With the open diff, massive amounts of time were lost in the corners because I couldn't put down any power. An order has already been placed for a 1.5-way LSD. The other shortcoming came to me when I was turning on the bank at 105 mph. My first thought was, If I blow a tire or something bad potentially happens, I'm going to hit the wall and be a dead man. Racing on the track is incredibly fun and exhilarating, but I don't want to subject myself to unnecessary risk, so I've decided that a half rollcage and proper bucket seat with a harness are a must if I want to run high-speed tracks like the ROVAL.
The stage is set for the next round of mods. A half cage, a bucket seat and an LSD with perhaps a shorter final drive are all in the works. I also want to shed some more weight from the car, so expect to see some carbon parts find their way onto the Integra.
Watch Project DC2 in action on the ROVAL on Modified's YouTube Channel: youtube.com/modifiedmagazine
It's a known fact that K-series oil pans have poor baffling capabilities and can starve the engine of oil in high-speed, high-g corners. To combat that, a baffled oil pan from Toda Racing or Mugen can be purchased. If you're broke, a cheap yet effective solution is to overfill the engine with about 1 quart of oil. However, check the oil level frequently because these engines can and will use up oil quickly. Top it up often and you'll be fine.