Targa Miata
September 22, 2008 - How did the suspension work?
On smooth stages, it was a joy. The car worked perfectly, giving me enough stability for confidence but remaining nimble enough to deal with surprises. I was able to adjust my line through corners without surprises, late braking didn't upset the car and I even ended up with some fairly high-speed trail braking by accident. In those situations, I could feel the tail getting light, but it never bit me.
On moderate bumps, the travel was good. We were able to soak up some big imperfections, especially on the high speed stuff. We could always put the power down.
The rough stuff - it's difficult to describe just how rough some of the stages are. The fact that on at least two occasions, we went over sharp speed bumps that weren't even in the notes is probably a good indication. For those stages, I needed better bumpstops, stiffer rear springs and more ride height. The Subaru guys were running gravel suspension, if that's any indication. The front end of the car worked really nicely, it was just the rear that wanted a bit more. Also, at full compression in the rear we were planting the rear subframe brace into the pavement so we actually had a bit too much compression travel for this sort of behaviour.
I raised the car a bit over the course of the week, but I was hesitant to go too far in case I damaged the high-speed behaviour. I'm going to keep working on this so I can find out how to make it work better. But holy cow, those were some big hits. The car never got upset and the chassis was protected enough to prevent any damage, but I usually have a bit more mechanical sympathy than that. I did get a report from my uncle Rob that while I was grounding out at times, it wasn't as bad as some of the other cars.
The shocks did gave us a scare early on as we discovered we'd blown right through the bumpstops and damaged the seals. The non-pressurised design of the shocks kept them from losing performance in this case, though.
entry 604 - tags: post-race, suspension
September 22, 2008 - Over the entire course of the race, the car never surprised me.
Not once. I never had to wrestle with it or deal with wayward behaviour. It simply did what I asked and always gave me an option in case I wanted to do something else.
In short, it was a Miata.
That left me free to concentrate on Janel's instructions and the road. I can't emphasize how important that was - it's why others commented on how smooth we looked. The car simply didn't have any bad habits. More than a year of constant testing and thousands of miles at race speeds in this and other Miatas were a real benefit, as the car's handling is second nature to me and heck, they flatter any driver.
entry 605 - tags: post-race.suspension, testing