Ford Fiesta ST Autocross – BC Racing Coilovers Handling Test

The Inside Line Fiesta ST has been due for a shakedown since the BC Racing coilovers were installed in July.  Round 6 of the Twin Lakes Motor Club (TLMC) Autoslalom was a perfect opportunity to put the new setup through its paces.

Lower ride height, stiffer springs and dampers combined with a more aggressive alignment should make the car more competitive in the Street Touring Hatch class.  However, it is still up to the driver to put down a fast time at the end of the day!

Fiesta ST BC Coilovers Settings: Street vs. Autocross

The Fiesta ST is primarily a daily driver so I had the suspension dialed in for the street.  First, the ride height was set at 1″ lower at both front and rear.

Once the ride height was set, I had Apex Automotive check over my installation and perform an alignment.  Even though the BC coilovers did not come with camber plates, they were able to dial in -2 of front camber for me.  The rear camber was at -1 and was not adjustable.

BC coilovers include adjustable dampers that combine rebound and compression settings.  For autocross, I set the front dampers at 10 clicks from full stiff and 8 for the rears.  It made a noticeable difference from my street settings of 13 clicks front and 10 clicks rear.

Front adjustment knobs are located on top of the dampers which are easily accessible under the hood.  The rear damper adjustment can be reached through the rear wheel wells once the car is jacked up.

Federal 595 EVO Tire Pressure for Autocross

Setting pressures on the Federal 595 EVO. Great value for the street, but not the best autocross tires.

The Federal 595 EVO are great for the street, but it’s definitely not the ideal autocross tire.  Sticky 200TW rubber like the Bridgestone RE-71R and BFG g-Force Rival S are clearly in a class or two above.  For under $150 CAD per tire after installation, I cannot complain!

Setting tire pressure is tricky on the Federal 595 EVOs.  The 240 treadwear ultra performance tires have terrific straight line traction, but the sidewalls are soft.  Even though it is fine on the street, it is problematic for autocross and track days.

I started off with cold pressures of 36 psi in the front and 38 psi in the rear before the first run.  I typically run about 2 psi higher in the rear to encourage more rear rotation.

Once the tires warmed up after a couple of runs, the pressure was set at 36 psi front and 40 psi rear.  However, the chalk marks I put on the sidewalls were rubbing off.

For the majority of my runs, I ran 38 psi all around.  I will run closer to 40 psi in the front for the next event to prevent the sidewalls from rolling over.

Course Map

Autocross course map for the August 26, 2018 TLMC event.

The starting line is on the bottom middle of the map.  As with most autocross layouts, this is a second gear course for the Fiesta ST.

Run Number One – Setting a Baseline

Ford Fiesta ST with BC Racing Coilovers - First Handling Test at Autocross
The Fiesta ST cornered much flatter with the BC Coilovers compared to the stock suspension. Photo Credit: @ygquality

My strategy for the first run of the day is to take it easy, test the grip level and take mental notes on the course layout.  The goal is to set a conservative time with no penalties as a baseline to improve upon throughout the day.

Right away the Fiesta ST felt great with the BC coilovers setup.  The lower center of gravity was very noticeable as the car was much more stable under hard braking.  Turn-in grip was improved, and lift-off and trail-braking oversteer felt more progressive as well.

I set a somewhat respectable 48.674 seconds without hitting any cones or going off course.  There were lots of areas for improvement so I felt I was off to a good start.  My goal for the day was 47.5 seconds.

Little did I know, this would end up being my fastest time of the day…

Cone Killer

Even though the new suspension setup felt great, I was unable to translate it into results.  I racked up an unusual number of penalties throughout the day, hitting a lot of pylons in my 8 runs.

I did break into the 47s on Run 3, but hit a cone at the second slalom which added one second to the time.  It was a problematic sector for me throughout the day.

Another sector where I struggled was the corner in between the two slaloms.  I overcooked the entry on a couple runs, and I braked too early on others.

Results

My feeling is that the Fiesta ST could have managed a low 47 second run that day.  My time from the first run put me in 33rd place in PAX time out of 60, and 37th place in RAW times.

Despite disappointing results, I was able to get some valuable seat time and gained more confidence with the new suspension setup.  The Fiesta ST now handles very differently with the BC Racing coilovers compared to the stock suspension.

I will have a chance to redeem myself at the final round of TLMC Autoslalom on Sunday, September 9th.

Handling Impressions of the BC Racing Coilovers

Despite my underwhelming results, I was very happy with the improved handling of the FiST with the coilovers installed.  My theory is that the sharpened turn-in was overwhelming the tires especially with fast transitions.

Mid-corner behaviour was similar to stock, just with more speed and grip.  I did feel that I could get back on the gas sooner at corner exit, the suspension felt like it was working well with Ford’s torque vectoring system.

Braking performance is also much improved.  The lower center of gravity and stiffer springs have made the car more planted under hard braking.

Overall, the handling balance of the car feels more neutral.  Oversteer is still available on command with a lift of the throttle or dab of the brakes, but it feels a lot more progressive than before.

The BC Racing BR Series Coilovers for the Ford Fiesta ST is available on Amazon.

Autocross Video

Watch the full FTD autocross run of the Fiesta ST below, bloopers are included!

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