Monday, January 25, 2010

Nitron Build - Track Testing @ Buttonwillow

We completed initial testing of the Nitron upgrades at Buttonwillow this past Saturday. We hired a professional ride & handling engineer and Koni Challenge racer to help us with set-up. Dave Thilenius (see pic below) has a Formula 2000 championship and over 20 years of racing and OE set-up experience. Our team also included Rick, Steve, myself and Allen from LPL. Dave has helped us with other projects including the Secant Type I & II track testing.
We set up the car with mid level settings on the Nitron GT3s. We installed 650/800lb springs on these dampers. The Nitron uprights and steering arms allowed -3deg of camber all around. We dialed in a little bit of Toe Out at the front and Toe In at the rear. Caster was maxed out per Nitron's recommendation. Ride height was set at 96mm/100mm with driver weight and a full tank of fuel. The brakes were AP 4pots on all four corners with Hawk HT10s.
One last minute addition was the ReVerie Exige Spoiler and Canards. We added these to improve his front end grip and balance as he had a huge rear wing.

Dave started the day with a quick 3 lap session to bed the brakes and get a feel for the car. He brought it back and we pulled all the wheels and checked all the critical nuts and bolts. Everything looked good so he went out for a few laps. We checked tire pressures and temps in the hot pit to see how the tires were working. Dave gave us his input and we decided to make one change - which was stiffening Low Speed Compression to address a 'lazy turn-in'. As the morning progressed we continued this sequence and made other changes to the car.

Dave began cranking some quick laps in the low 2 min range. Ultimately he managed a 1:59min which was very quick in the conditions we had. With new tires (we ran on old slicks), Dave was sure we could shave another 4sec from his time. His conservative driving made it clear to us that 4 sec could be achieved. He was driving a client's car so 10/10s driving was not in the test plan. Overall he was very happy with the car and felt it was a quick car. He commented that the car now had real race car brakes as they worked very well.

By 1pm the client, Michael, was itching to get into the car and drive it. He went out and completed a few laps. The car was very different from before so he spent some time adjusting to it. His best time of the day was a 2:00min lap. Michael was very happy with the handling but was less enthusiastic with the brakes. The car originally came with the Lotus Sport AP 4 pot calipers which we moved the rear. The new APs on the front are the same size as the AP brakes we offer. The HT10 have a very aggressive initial bite so we will test a less aggro pad - Pagid RS4-2. I suspect once Michael gets used to these brake pads and the overall brake system, he will switch back to the HT10s.

Overall we had a good test session. The car ran with no mechanical trouble. We were able to test the viability of these new Nitron parts and run the car at very low settings. The key feature of this kit is the ability to run under 100mm ride height and maintain the suspension geometry. The fact that the car never bottomed out or 'digested' the wheel liner made us even happier. It performed very well and should be even quicker with some further development and/or seat time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nitron Build - Saving Unsprung Weight

We're almost finished with the installation of Nitron's tasty new bits on Michael's Cup car. After weighing both the stock parts and the new Nitron bits we found that there are significant weight savings to be had with Nitron's uprights. Over 10 lbs of unsprung weight were shed with the full set of four uprights.

OE Front Uprights (pair)=24.4 lbs vs. Nitron=17.3 lbs
OE Rear Uprights (pair)=23.8 lbs vs. Nitron=20.1 lbs

We'll publish more weight saving details later!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nitron Rear Toe-link

Today, we installed the Nitron Rear Toe-link kit to the Cup car. We utilized the Lotus Sport toe-link brace to anchor the Nitron kit to the chassis. We also test fit our RTD/RTV cross brace with these toe links to confirm compatability. Nitrons provide the capability for finer adjustments and tuning of the rear toe.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nitron Uprights, brakes & Steering Arms

We've dry fit the all of the major components to the front and rear passenger side of Michael's Cup car. Everything fits like a glove. These Nitron bits look even better installed on a car. The uprights and steering arms have been machined to such high detail that everything has fit perfectly so far. Check out the eye candy below!

The Nitron Build Begins!

We've just started the installation of all Nitron's new suspension bits on an Exige Cup car belonging to Michael W., one of the racers in the Lotus Challenge Series. Michael's Cup car will getting the following Nitron components installed:
  • Nitron Front & Rear Uprights
  • Nitron Rear Toe Link Kit

  • Nitron Wishbone Inner Bearings

  • Nitron Complete Big Brake Kit with AP Racing calipers

  • Nitron Brake Hose Kit

  • Nitron Titanium Caliper Studs

  • Nitron 18mm Spherical Bearing adapters

  • Nitron GT3 Triple Adjustable Suspension Kit.

These components will lower the Cup car 25mm without changing the suspension geometry thanks to new front & rear uprights that position the wheels 25mm higher than stock. This kit will also shed unsprung weight through the use of light materials & premium construction techniques. CLICK HERE to read more about Nitron North America & these components.

Check back here for updates on the progress of our installation of these VERY tasty bits!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Secant Type I Conversion

We completed another Ecotec conversion on a Lotus Elise last month. Secant Vehicles Type I powertrain package delivers 280hp and an unbelievable 241 ft-lbs of torque. The car is superbly fast and absolutely docile to drive around town. The complete character of the power delivery is changed as the torque band is so smooth and flat. The car features a supercharged 2.0 Ecotec, professionally built for us by GM Racing.

Fred, the owner of this Lotus California edition, is extremely happy with the conversion. He, along with us, love the discrete, OE-like look of the swap. The engine bay is somewhat boring as it is too OE!!! Very neat and clean. There is nothing Fast & Furious about how this engine bay looks - but the car does do 0-60mph in under 4secs.

For those of you who are looking for a nicely engineered power package for your Lotus - this is one to consider. The dash works correctly even though the powertrain is managed by an OE Delphi controller. The car runs like an factory calibrated car.

Thanks to the engineers at Secant for another excellent conversion! Give us a call if you are interested in a conversion that delivers Viper-like acceleration!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Transmission Solutions Preview

Transmission failures have become a more common issue on track driven cars. Much of the failure has bee attributed to torque generated by supercharged cars but some of the blame may be coming from transmission fluid that is getting destroyed by high temperatures. We have been working on solutions that will save the tranny and want to preview them here.

One of our first projects was a transmission cooler. Last year after seeing data of transmission fluid temps that were exceeding their recommended operating ranges we sorted this cooler. After confirming fitment and
operation on our Nirvana Elise we sent it to Eric, the owner of Suspension Performance. He installed it on a client's 211 and initiated track testing on tracks like Laguna Seca and Infineon. Eric found a drop of 40deg F with the cooler and was especially pleased with the constant temperature that was maintained by the system even when it was sitting in the pit after a session. Our solution features a radiator and pump that keeps the fluid in continuous circulation. The kit also adds additional fluid volume that clearly helps keep the temps in check. We are working on a novel approach to mounting it under the car.

New gears that are stronger have been developed by a partner of ours in Austria, Jubu Racing. Martin from Jubu has sorted several great solutions, including new 3rd, 4th gears, Final Drive and a 6spd Dogbox. We received the 3rd & 4th gears and will begin our testing. These crowned, straight cut gears are larger and stronger than the OE helical gears as shown below. Ratios that have been chosen have been great in track use in Europe. We expect them to work well for our application as well.
The work continues to keep sorting these Lotus for more and more track focused fun!