Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sunday Sunday Sunday!!!

So I did pretty well in Sunday's autocross.

First place Novice, 30th PAX (adjusted scores), 44th raw time. This is the first time I've won anything, and the first time I've cracked the top half in raw or PAX times. I finally feel competitive!

But I learned some interesting stuff on Sunday, and it's gotten me to thinking. I've reached what I feel is very close to the limit of my car's performance. I know there were a couple of places where I might have been able to gain another .25 seconds with another couple of runs, but basically I'm not the limiting factor any more.

I accomplished 2G transitions in about 2 seconds, which tells me the car was it its limits, but I was losing traction because the tightness of the course kept me in 1st gear. Even at 5K RPM, if I mash the pedal, the tires will break loose. However, there's so little torque down low that shifting to 2nd would have cost me well over 5 seconds. So it's a compromise, but I'm running in a class that does not allow compromise.

Basically I've modified the MINI to the point where it can't competently compete. I don't want to go back to stock and run in HS, because the car wouldn't be any fun for the occasional track day, and I don't want to start fiddling with engine internals in the hopes of somehow finding the "secret ingredient" to making a Cooper into a Porsche.

What to do?

The (only reasonable) answer comes in changes that MINI made in 2006, when they started putting JCW parts on at the factory. It turns out that any modification made at the factory is legal in stock classes. Richard West successfully drove his STX (some mods, but stock engine) to 2nd place PAX on Sunday, after retro-fitting the JCW engine kit. Rick Carson took 1st Place in G-Stock in what can only have been a JCW car.

Add to this that the single most competitive group out there (IMHO) is GS, and you start to see where I'm going. The temptation is very serious and very real to order a JCW MCS.

Think about it: I want to stay in stock class, which only allows replacement of coil pack (I already have an aftermarket one that would work just fine) and interior cosmetic / AV options (Ice-Link Plus). The JCW is competent on the track, too. Maybe not lightning quick like Chris's MINI, but certainly quicker than mine. The JCW has much higher resale value, too.

If I did get one, I basically would have to leave it alone. The only thing I could get away with is putting on my Kosei wheels. That means no more money thrown into the car. No aftermarket parts to squeak, no droning rattly exhaust, no brutal suspension, and no wondering if this part's going to be compatible with that part.

And that means a one-time investment. Period.

I could recoup about half of the money I've invested in aftermarket parts, too, which makes that one-time investment a lot easier to handle.

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