Autocross in a (stock) ST185

Road race, Auto X, or the Drag Strip

Autocross in a (stock) ST185

Postby Guest » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:08 am

Yesterday, I brought the car out to autocross to get a feel for how the car "really" behaves. I was gonna bring out the BMW, but I realized that my Celi didn't get its inaugural autocross yet (all my cars get autocrossed at least once), so I said what the heck and brought it out to play.

Compared to my (now gone) ST165, the care definitely feels much heavier. In general, the car is pretty heavy, and I feel that it's underpowered compared to a WRX STi (which I got a ride in-- wow that thing has balls-- and the owner told me that the WRXs have a 35-65 F/R torque split so that they behave more like a RWD than my car (50/50)-- that was new info that I didn't know before).

As expected (comparing to my ST165), the car feels like a FWD car at turn-in and mid-corner, but it's pretty neutral at track-out (although it's much more difficult to get the rear end to come out compared to a RWD car like my BMW or MR2). I don't know if the tires suck, but the Kumho Supra 712s in the front were squealing for mercy about 75% of the entire run. It was quite annoying. I was probabaly overdriving it a bit, trying to toss it around, but still! Also, there was a lot of body roll. Remember that this is all stock, 70K mile equipment that I'm working with here...

What surprised me was how sucky the brakes were. I recently put in new toyota pads and flushed the fluid (didn't change rotors, though, which I should have in hindsight), and you have to brake SO EARLY. On my first run, I punched the brakes after the chicago box going into a tight left-hander leading into the back sweeper, and the ABS immediately kicked in as I applied more pressure since the car wouldn't stop as expected! I adjusted immediately and broke WAY early.

Same with the steering. It's numb and slow. I have to steer WAY AHEAD of time. In a salom, I am literally turning the other direction mid-way through the current section. Understeer was awful. Power delivery, I thought, was nice. Turbo kicks in nicely when the car is pointed straight coming out of a corner. In general, AWD definitely behaves very strange to a driver that is used to RWD.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the car. All the Evo VIII and STi there made me think, here we have 4-four sedans, AWD, turbo, and new and nicely setup and they do well. And here I am with my 2-door hatchback, AWD, turbo, 13-year old car with almost original parts and stock, and if this was my only car, I'd go replace/upgrade things like mad right now to get up to their levels. Good thing I have other cars!

BUT I am going to address a few things that are easily changed. For sure, I'm putting in stainless steel brake lines and getting new OEM rotors. I can't live with bad brakes and bad brake pedal feel. I'm putting power mods lower on the list now. I need better tires and suspsension (springs, shocks). Get an alignment, and I'll come back with that setup for one more autocross, and I will call it a day with this car as far as modifications go.

I do have to add that a lot of people were checking out the car and asking about it. Some people knew exactly what the car was ("You don't see many of these things around..."), some people didn't realize it was AWD but knew it was turbo (and vice-versa), and a lot of people just commented on how nice and clean the car was. I like the car overall (it's not an autocross car, for sure), I really do, and I'm gonna keep it around this time...

So those are my thoughts after my first autocross in this car. Does anyone here autocross their car extensively (i.e. have it set up for autocross and race regularly?) I would imagine not, considering how it's not the best handling car nor the lightest car for the job... But then, why are there so many Evo and STi at autocross lately (and doing fairly well)?
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Postby mike325ci » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:12 am

whoah, how did i get logged out? that was me posting above. :)

also, photos from the event (no action shots, sorry...) are here:
http://www.cynikal.net/~mike/ST185/autox_second_photos/
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Postby NemesisGT-2 » Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:46 pm

Honestly, I have used mine in a few autocrosses since I've had it, and it is by far the best car I've ever driven for competition. Even though I'm in SM due to the boost controller, I am still relatively competitive with it (took 2nd place in SM at one event 2 months ago). My suspension is completely original, with 175k on the odo. My tires are Kumho 711's. I find that the brakes aren't bad at all, I just seem to hit them too early for my own good :doh: . The car is absolutely excellent in skidpads, and I personally think it does a very good job in the slaloms as well, although the body roll does seem excessive in these situations. The two things I don't like are trying to negotiate hairpins and situations where you have to turn the wheel fast. Hairpins always seem to make the car fall out of boost, and it takes forever to get going again. I have changed my driving with respect to this (namely, where I enter the hairpin), and it has helped out a little, but there's still room for improvment. The fast turning situations are the worst though. Usually at the autocrosses around here there is a 90deg. left quickly followed by a 90deg right directly before the finish, and the power steering pump cannot keep up, making it seem impossible to turn the car. Other than those two things, I love it. I plan on doing some suspension and drivetrain mods this winter, and hopefully the car will be even better next season.

The next best car I used was my old '93 Legacy SS (turbo, AWD), but it had quite a few flaws, including body roll (More than even the All-Trac :shock: ). The ABS also stepped in WAY too early and killed the fun for the most part. Also, I did not like the long wheelbase of the car, it seemed to not want to rotate as well as the All-Trac does in most situations. It did have a VERY small turbo, however, which helped to pull the car out of a lot of low speed situations.
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Postby erolit » Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:40 am

For brakes, stick in some decent pads. I went some decent Porterfield pads and brake fade became a thing of the past, oh and pull your ABS fuse for autocross.

On totally stock suspension and only basic engine mods, i dont have a huge ammount of trouble getting the rear end out, i just have to be brutal with the engine and steering inputs. I'm with you on those squeaky tyres though, got it pisses me off when my tyres are shrieking through corners but at least it gives you some warning when you are near the cars limit of traction :]

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Postby CMS-GT4 » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:39 pm

One note, is that the tie rod ends tend to go easy. I replace mine ever year to 1.5 year. That is the only thing I can think of that makes your steering bad. I was happy with mine. A rear sway bar and possible rear lsd are the best suspension mods you might start with.

As far as brakes go, porterfeilds did the trick. And some slotted rotors.

I will need to go with something better though after having the z for so long.
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Postby XoDuzZ » Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:48 pm

You'd be suprised how much of that understeer is due to your kumho's.


I have nothing against the kumho - if you are driving a civic, or any other car that weighs less than 2500 lbs - The sidewalls on kumhos are some of the weakest in the industry for performance tires. they roll over very easily.

with our cars, you need very stiff sidewalls. even more stiff because our cars weigh upwards of 3200 lbs.
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Postby CMS-GT4 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 1:07 am

The one bad review on tire rack for those tires was by an alltrac owner.
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Re: Autocross in a (stock) ST185

Postby celicat93 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 2:14 am

Anonymous wrote: and the owner told me that the WRXs have a 35-65 F/R torque split so that they behave more like a RWD than my car (50/50)-- that was new info that I didn't know before).


The STi's power front/rear power distribution is actually adjustable:

"Driver Controlled Center Differential
(DCCD) All-Wheel Drive: Exclusive to the WRX STI, Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) All-Wheel Drive, featuring both manual and automatic modes, uses an electronically managed multiplate transfer clutch in conjunction with a planetary gear-type center differential to control power distribution between the front and rear wheels. Normally, DCCD splits power 41% front and 59% rear. Sensors monitor parameters such as wheel slippage, steering angle, throttle position and braking to help determine torque distribution to the wheels with optimum traction. DCCD also features a helical-type limited-slip front differential and mechanical limited-slip rear differential."

and has anyone noticed that the new WRX's are even UGLIER!!! :|

http://www.subaru.com/shop/overview.jsp ... _STI_SEDAN
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Postby exST165 » Sun Sep 25, 2005 1:16 am

XoDuzZ wrote:with our cars, you need very stiff sidewalls. even more stiff because our cars weigh upwards of 3200 lbs.


When it comes to R-compound tires for autocross or trackday use do you have any recomendations?

TIA,
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Postby C-dubb » Sun Sep 25, 2005 2:04 am

seriously that new WRX is hideous, it lookslike they spliced the double helix of a pontiac sunfire with that of a pontiac GTO ...with a dash of toyota corolla type S in there (the only somewhat appealing part)
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Postby daveryan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:18 pm

and has anyone noticed that the new WRX's are even UGLIER!!!


That fascia reminds me of the South Park Michael Jackson when is nose falls off! :lol: In a weird way it kind of mirrors Subaru's attempts to make this car look good - bad plastic surgery.
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Postby mike325ci » Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:32 am

Haha, I found this old post of mine... So after driving around with those Kumho 712s for a little bit more now, I agree, they really don't do a good job on our cars...

I've been meaning to try to sell my wheel/tires, but just haven't been aggressive enough about it... Also because I haven't really decided what I'm going to replace them with, so I guess I'll just stick with what I have until I can figure it out... :)

Got new rotors, though... Still haven't gotten around to the SS brake lines... Have way too many other priorities in my life now and little time for my cars... :(
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Postby Simba » Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:05 am

Kumho 712's are marginal at best, especially on a heavy car. They're decent on the street, but effectively worthless in any kind of racing environment.

If you want a cheap-o race tire, try the Kumho MX line. They're much, much better, and about the same price as the 712's.

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Postby theUNYTEDone » Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:34 am

I do have to add that a lot of people were checking out the car and asking about it. Some people knew exactly what the car was ("You don't see many of these things around..."), some people didn't realize it was AWD but knew it was turbo (and vice-versa), and a lot of people just commented on how nice and clean the car was. I like the car overall (it's not an autocross car, for sure), I really do, and I'm gonna keep it around this time..

^^^ this is my favorite paragraph. great "writeup", BTW...gave me knowledge even though our raceway park got closed...(for now)... :x
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Postby NemesisGT-2 » Wed May 10, 2006 1:06 am

Just a little update to the whole autocrossing an ST-185 thing. I just installed some GC springs and sleeves and autoxed last weekend. The car corners MUCH better now, a lot less body roll. I also was running a slightly wider tire, Kumho 711's in 225/50/15. The tires weren't really that bad at all, I was surprised at how much grip I had over the entire event. I actually didn't find the limit in the slaloms. The transitions were so fast I couldn't speed it up enough in the 5 runs to find out where the front end would start to push too much for me to keep in the "rhythm". Skidpads still need some help, but I'm pretty sure that's mostly driver related, although a little more low end power would help to keep on the limit. I will be installing some Hoosiers sometime here in the near future (S04's though :cry: ) but I need to add some serious front camber before that.
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