|Like the stock car, the Fit racer exhibited less body roll than the Mazda 2 racer.
The Fit seemed to have better control of body motion than the Mazda 2 for better transitions and crisper turn in, but the longer wheelbased Fit did have a tendency to understeer from mid turn outward and had to be coaxed to rotate with lift throttle and trail braking. Like the Mazda 2 though we were pleasantly surprised with the stock Fit’s handling and thought the car was relatively fun to drive.
|Freed of excess weight the Fit felt a lot faster than the Mazda in straightaway speed. It was by no means fast but it was not terrible. The Fit racer has a lot more chassis than engine!
The worst thing about the Fit was the brakes. After about two laps of hard riving, we would experience fade and would have to slow down to avoid cooking the brakes into oblivion. The brake pedal also felt long and spongy with little feedback on the Fit. Since the cars have very similar brakes, we attribute this to a different philosophy in master cylinder sizing and brake booster assist calibration and the fact that the Fit weights a lot more. The stock Fit was also hurting for a limited slip diff as we got plenty of inside wheel spin on corner exit.
|The longer wheelbase Fit was more stable under braking but also had more of a tendency to understeer. Like the stock Fit the brake pedal felt long and somewhat mushy. HPD brake pads greatly reduced the fade though. This made the Mazda feel faster in the turns which evened the two cars out.
The race Fit was equipped with a prototype kit from HPD, Honda’s motorsport parts division and will be on sale shortly. Like the Mazda 2 the Fit’s engine was stock except for an open exhaust. A mandated inlet restrictor reduces the power output of the more potent Honda engine slightly. A well thought out cage ties the unibody together with a Sparco head protecting seat, and Grand Am spec window nets filling out the stripped interior.
|Although the Fit understeered you could get it to rotate with some lift throttle or trail braking. The race Fit, like the stocker, also spun the inside front tire a lot, it could really use an LSD diff.
The Fit’s HPD developed suspension is simpler than the Mazdaspeed kit. The stock suspension was replaced with specially valved non adjustable Bilstein coilover struts and shocks. The front ride height is adjustable for corner weighting. The rear suspension is fixed and the rear springs are not adjustable for ride height or corner weighting like the Mazda’s are. The stock front anti sway bar is used with no additional rear bar for the twist beam axle.
|The stock Fit 1500cc VTEC engine was our favorite, even breathing through a rules mandated restrictor, it still felt better than the Mazda powerplant.
Like the Mazda 2, the stock wheels are replaced with 15” alloy units with 205/50-15 BFG R1 DOT race radials. The brake pads are replaced with HPD parts made by Cobalt. That’s about it, like the Mazda 2 the Fit race kit is simple and inexpensive. Since the factory has done the tuning, there is no need for you to go out and develop stuff, all it takes is the addition of a driver and you are ready to rock.
|Larger alloy wheels and BFG R1 race rubber give the car plenty of grip. Stock brakes with HPD pads were fade free. Our car came straight from the 25 hours of Thunderhill, then was pillaged by journalists all day with nary a bit of maintenance and without skipping a single beat. Impressive!