Event number three took place in late December 2013, Back to Buttonwillow Raceway park. But this time the famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) clockwise configuration #13, aka “Time Attack 13” was the test bed. Despite the flack Time Attack 13 receives at times for being “over ran”, its a well documented configuration with tons of lap time reference and in-car video. So finding bench marks for various platforms and modification levels is just a Google or YouTube search away. Last time I was here with Project 370Z, I ran on Hankook RS3 tires which fall under a track oriented street tire legal for “street class” time attack rule sets. So I was not only curious to see how the RC-1 behaved on a track configuration I had an ample amount of seat time on, but also how they compared lap time wise to the RS3s. Weather could not be better starting in the low 60s and never getting past the 70s. I was looking forward to getting many consecutive laps per session because of these great conditions.
The RC-1s continued to impress throughout the event. Going into corners with high entry speed and early throttle because of the highly familiar configuration really helped me to explore the tire's idiosyncrasies. Since I knew in detail from experience how Time Attack 13 is line and surface wise, the focus on the tire's performance was intensified. I learned more about how they behaved in braking zones and what kind of technique got the most out of them under trail braking. As the day went on, I found more speed with early throttle application. The combination of the RC-1's outright grip and the custom tuned Cusco Type RS LSD we installed last year made for incredible longitudinal traction. Almost to the point of making the car feel underpowered, but the speeds Project 370 was reaching suggested otherwise. By the end of the day, my best lap time was 2.00:4. The RC-1s proved to be a consistent 1 to 1.2 seconds faster around Time Attack #13 than my slightly wider Hankook RS3 street tires. I feel with a suspension tune better suited for the high grip of the Maxxis tires, the time delta would have been even larger. Since Project 370 is still a street car, the overall roll stiffness of the chassis setup still is not high to keep daily driver road manners comfortable.
March 2014 Brought me to Chuckwalla Valley Raceway near Indio CA, about 3 hours East of the LA area. “CVR” for short, opened in early 2010 making for an extremely smooth track surface. Most of the corners are sweeping, radiused mid speed corners. A car's lateral grip and dynamics under throttle control are put to the test by CVR's configuration. This day was ran Clockwise, but the track is commonly and equally fun running counter clockwise as well. I was looking forward to this event because I had only driven at CVR once before in my 9 total years of driving on track. In fact, that one time was not even in a car I owned, and it was counter clock wise. So essentially this was my “first time”, so the anticipation was high. What I was a bit concerned about was that this would be event number 4 on the RC-1s and the track was 3 hours of highway driving away. The forecast was for temps in the low to mid 90s, so I was hoping the tires would stay consistent throughout the day despite all these factors working against them. Much to my relief, the RC-1s durability continued to shine brighter than the desert sun that day. Even after a couple off track excusions from learning the track, the Maxxis controlled Project 370's momentum, power, and weight exceptionally well. Even with a significant amount of heat cycles by now, the RC-1s grip worked well in conjunction with CVR's nearly perfect but scorching hot track surface. The heavy amount of sweeping 180 degree corners made the G-load almost painful with the grip level the tires and project 370 could produce. Even after the 3 hour drive home, the tires did not look to be wearing prematurely in any fashion.
After a short vacation to Japan in April, I was back at Buttonwillow raceway park in July. The Configuration would be “Time attack #13” once again, but the huge difference this time was that a few weeks prior the track had undergone an extensive full repave. So the grip level and characteristics of the track would be all new and would need to be relearned. The big anticipation was the famous bumps and dips that truly made the character of Buttonwillow Raceway, would for the most part be erased or at least reduced. The surface grip was expected to be low since the amount of rubber laid down from usage was at a minimum. Also, the temperature for this day was expected to peak at 110 degrees F. So I had no expectations to set a new personal best time, I really just wanted to see how the new track surface was and to get some much desired seat time after the track break I took to go on vacation. Being that this was going to be event number 5 on the RC-1's, I had mentally prepared myself for a noticeable drop in performance either in grip, and/or thermal capacity.
But in this regard, I could not have been more wrong. Despite all the factors and conditions working against the RC1a, they dug in for traction nearly as ferociously as the first day at AutoClub speedway back in September. Lap after lap they brushed off the 150+ degree track surface temperatures staying consistent and poised. Ultimately I was only a second off my personal best lap time, which was most likely a result of the day's conditions rather than the tires themselves.