After taking my less than stellar showing with the Fiesta ST at the previous round of Twin Lakes Motor Club autocross, I was determined to improve my driving at the 2018 season finale on September 9th.
The last TLMC round was a double header event running two different courses in one day. To add to the challenge, the cold weather made it very difficult to get heat into the tires.
Autocross Double Header
TLMC ran a double header format for the final round of the 2018 autocross season. Drivers will run the first course in the morning and a second one in the afternoon.
Double headers are tough because drivers get only get half the runs on each course layout. Compared to the standard format, drivers only have three runs per course compared to eight runs during the previous round.
It puts a lot more pressure on the driver to put down a competitive lap and leaves little room for error.
Another challenge drivers had to overcome was the cold weather. It was an uncharacteristically cold summer day, cloudy with a high of 15C and a low of 7C. It was very difficult to generate and retain heat in the tires due to the short runs and relatively long downtime. You know it’s cold when front-wheel-drive cars are spinning out!
Fiesta ST Setup for Autocross
Instead of adjusting the setup throughout the day, I decided to just set it and forget it. After getting used to the new BC coilovers setup on the Fiesta ST at the last autocross, I decided to focus more on my driving instead.
Unfortunately one of the coilover collars came a bit loose before race day. I opted to take the opportunity to rotate my tires front to rear since it’s been about 8,500 kms. I increased tire pressures to 40 psi at all four corners.
Damper settings were carried over from before, set at ten clicks from stiff in the front and eight clicks on the rear.
On a typical summer day, I can use the Cobb AccessPort launch control and floor it at the start line with minimal wheelspin. However, this was not the case and the car struggled for grip right out of the gate. With 86 cars competing, it was not possible to retain heat in the tires short of blankets.
My first run did not go well as I got lost on the first cross over section. Add insult to injury, I missed the timing gate at the finish line. Thankfully I was able to improve my time on my second run and set my FTD on the last lap.
Fastest Time of the Day: 50.726s (Run 3)
When @torqueturtle and friends were curious about the Fiesta ST, I was happy to have them ride along for my first two runs. After setting a baseline time, I pushed harder on my second time out.
Now that I have a better sense of how the car handles on slaloms, I pushed it a little too hard and couldn’t scrub off enough speed on the second last cone. Even though I was able to avoid hitting the last cone after losing control of the rear end, the lap was ruined.
I really wanted to try and get into the 50s for the last run without any passengers. I had a good launch out of the first sector, but braked too late and overcooked the sharp left hand corner. My greediness proved to be costly as I could not improve on my first run.
Fastest Time of the Day: 51.823 (Run 4)
On-board Video of FTD Runs and Fails
With a combined time of 102.549, I placed 39th overall in raw time. PAX bumped me up to 36th overall. If I had been able to string together a better run on the second course, I think the car could have gotten into the low 101s.
Even though I was not particularly happy with my overall placement, I am glad to report that I did not hit any cones the whole day. It seems like I have finally adapted to the sharper turn-in of the new coilover setup and improved on steering with the throttle.
What’s Next for the 2019 Autocross Season?
For the 2019 season, I would like to work on becoming more methodical with each run. I need to analyze and pick my lines through the course more carefully.
Left-foot braking is another technique that I’d like to work on. All of the autocross courses I’ve run with the Fiesta ST max out in second gear. It is an ideal opportunity to develop the braking feel of my left foot. It will also help me get back on the throttle faster and take advantage of the torque vectoring system.
In addition to driver mod, I am considering running a set of dedicated autocross tires a wheels for next year. I noticed most of the front runners at every event are running the Bridgestone RE-71R semi-slicks.
Ideally, I would like to get a set of 205-45R16 mounted on lightweight 16×8 wheels. My first choice would be the newly released Konig Dekagram in bronze, weighing in at a scant 14.3 lbs.
I would also like to run a front chassis brace as the car really seems to struggle in quick transitions. Theoretically, I am attributing this to the tires but I would like to experiment with something like the TB Performance Traction Bar.
Having said that, I’ve been at the middle of the pack in Street Touring class throughout the season. I would like to stay in the same class and PAX so hardware changes will be kept to a minimum.
Photo Credit: Yael – check out her work on IG: @ygquality