Project Mazda3: Part 3 – Improving our Contact Patch
Now that Spring has sprung here in the Mid-World, it’s time to get our 2014 Mazda3 ready for some autocross fun. We are planning on competing in SCCA’s Street Touring F category against MINI Coopers, Acura RSXs and Mazda2s, as well as other Mazda3s.
This car still sees regular commuter duty and there are very few aftermarket parts available—but we’ll be tearing into it anyway as we want to at least get the ball rolling towards our goal.
The big issue at the moment is that there are no aftermarket struts or shock absorbers available for the Skyactiv chassis. Koni is currently working on them but they are at least six months out. That’s most of the 2015 season, so we’re just going to forge ahead and see what we can do with the stock dampers.
We believe that the trick to making a car work for autocross is to maximize the contact patch under the rule set, both statically and dynamically. By statically, we just mean making sure we have the best tires and widest tires on a wheel that meets the letter of the STF ruleset. By dynamically, the we want to limit body roll (and resulting camber change) so that the keeps gripping mid-way through the corner.
This installment will take care of the static contact patch and get us going on the dynamic portion of things.