FF10 BAT­TLE

Super Street - - Superstreetgarage.com - WORDS Sam Du, Ro­drez, Bob Her­nan­dez PHO­TOS Luke Mun­nell, Bob Her­nan­dez, Ro­drez

Ten years in the mak­ing, the Su­per Street FF Bat­tle is a time-at­tack event that com­prises a field made up of novice and ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers. If you have no idea what FF is, it stands for front-en­gine, front-wheel drive. So why do we put on this event, es­pe­cially when we could be host­ing al­legedly more ex­cit­ing all-wheel- and rear-wheeldrive ve­hi­cles? Well, it’s be­cause FF cars are of­ten con­sid­ered un­der­pow­ered, un­der­steer­ing, un­fun cars to drive. They’re viewed as the un­der­dogs, when in hind­sight, they’re very ca­pa­ble on the cir­cuit, and in some in­stances faster. We’re also big fans of the older Hon­das and Acuras that en­ter our event. These 20-year-old, bud­get-built street/race cars can hang with the big boys—out­stand­ingly well on a tight, tech­ni­cal 16turn, 1.6-mile road course like the Streets of Wil­low Springs in Rosa­mond, Cal­i­for­nia. So, after nine years of putting this show on, we’ve fi­nally reached a decade—ff Bat­tle 10, our largest and most com­pet­i­tive field to date.

At FF Bat­tle 9 in 2017, we shook things up by sep­a­rat­ing the field into two run groups, Street and Race, to level the play­ing field. The re­sult was a tight bat­tle for the top po­si­tions in both classes. In ad­di­tion, we ap­plied a few im­por­tant changes to keep things fair in the Street Class, while Race Class rules were sim­i­lar to an un­lim­ited time-at­tack: hired driv­ers were al­lowed, there were no lim­i­ta­tions on en­gine/trans­mis­sion swaps and aero, and en­trants had the abil­ity to use a 100(+) tread­wear tire.

After re­ceiv­ing a huge in­flux of event hope­fuls (more than 80 en­trees!), our list was nar­rowed down to 11 Race Class com­peti­tors and 13 Street Class driv­ers. Sim­i­lar to FF Bat­tles of the past, the lineup was un­apolo­get­i­cally Honda heavy. As com­peti­tors be­gan rolling in dur­ing the cool morn­ing hours that would soon be com­pletely over­pow­ered by a pissed-off desert sun, we noted a very dif­fer­ent look and feel to this year’s FF Bat­tle—the most ob­vi­ous of which was the num­ber of cars and peo­ple on hand. But we also had a few wild cards to watch out for, in­clud­ing a Toy­ota Si­enna mini­van, Acura TSX, Ford Fo­cus ST, and 10th-gen Civic Si.

Much like FF Bat­tle 9 played out, the top three in each class were very close, and it should also be noted that the top three lap times in the Race Class were in fact faster than 2017’s top three fin­ish­ers—even with the el­e­vated temps this year. How­ever, this was the first year we did away with a con­trol tire.

RACE CLASS 1st Billy Jang 1:23.409

Billy is no stranger to track days, which was ob­vi­ous from his first few laps. The re­cently com­pleted Civic EJ hatch­back he pi­loted be­longs to Duane Bada, who served as the Su­per Street track chief for the day, tak­ing care of the ma­jor­ity of or­ga­ni­za­tional du­ties and also giv­ing us a hand in the pre-event plan­ning. This Civic is Duane’s first ex­pe­ri­ence with K-se­ries power, and with Billy be­hind the wheel, they were able to lay down an im­pres­sive 1:23.409, which was enough to take the win and top­ple last year’s event-win­ning 1:24.901 blazed by two-time champ Joel Etrata and his In­te­gra sedan (a ve­hi­cle that has since been sold, but its new owner com­peted at this year’s event as well). And ex­actly how fast is 1:23.409? Pro race car driver Randy Pobst put down a 1:23.73 in a stock BMW M4 and a 1:24.05 in a stock Lexus RC F! Well done, Billy and Duane!

2nd Jose Me­jia 1:24.192

On Billy’s heels was Jose Me­jia in his ‘98 In­te­gra, with a com­mend­able 1:24.192, which also sur­passed last year’s fastest lap of the day. Jose re­lies on a clas­sic B-se­ries GS-R pow­er­plant built by Twostep Mo­tor­sports, a re­worked ITR trans with a lit­tle of Ghost­werks’ magic touch, and a laun­dry list of well cho­sen sus­pen­sion goods, in­clud­ing JRZ RS Pro 2s.

The cars in front and in back of Jose “out liter’d” him sig­nif­i­cantly with K24 power, but his wheel skills and a well­built chas­sis kept him right in the mix. With plenty of laps and track days on Billy and Jose’s re­sumes, it was a pretty close bat­tle, and one we’d like to see res­ur­rected at FF Bat­tle 11.

3rd Amir Ben­ta­tou 1:24.489

Amir is no stranger here. In the past, he pi­loted his NSX to win our Show Car Shootout, took top honors after driv­ing his friend’s Ls-pow­ered BMW M3 in the Odd Swaps Chal­lenge, and, this time around, served as the wheel­man be­hind Sport­car

Mo­tion’s K24 Civic EH. Though the car made an ap­pear­ance last year, it’s seen quite a few changes since then—but it’s only been on the track once since those up­dates. FF Bat­tle 10 served as a test­bed of sorts to note is­sues and make ad­just­ments. Still, even with lim­ited seat time, Amir was able to muster a 1:24.489 to end the day with a very re­spectable Third Place fin­ish.

STREET CLASS

All en­tries had to be driven by the reg­is­tered owner of the ve­hi­cle, and fac­tory glass win­dows were re­quired, as were func­tion­ing head­lights, tail­lights, and mir­rors. Al­ter­ing OEM sus­pen­sion pickup points was not al­lowed, and cars were per­mit­ted to run only on un­leaded gaso­line. All stock ex­te­rior pan­els, as well as the for­ward part of the OEM in­te­rior, were to be in place on race day, and aero ef­fects were lim­ited to sin­gleele­ment com­po­nents. Lastly, tire choices were open, how­ever, they were re­stricted to 200 (+) tread­wear and a max width of 265.

1st Steven Kronem­berger 1:23.842

We were happy to have both a new Honda Civic Type R and new Si (Nick Zam­brano’s) in the midst. A me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer by trade, Kronem­berger il­lus­trated how ef­fec­tive the FK8 CTR is, tak­ing his turbo K20C’D ma­chine to the top of the timesheet with a lap that was a whop­ping 3.5 sec­onds faster than the next in its class, and just four-tenths of a sec­ond off the best time in the Race Class (cars that are gen­er­ally faster than those in Street Class).

2nd Michael Ca­puto 1:27.358

Ca­puto’s red hatch was the best of the rest, sport­ing a fully built ‘98 spec-and-up B18C Type R en­gine and transaxle with lim­ited-slip un­der the hood. A Koyo ra­di­a­tor, Bat­tle­craft en­gine har­ness, 2.5-inch ex­haust, In­no­va­tive steel en­gine mounts, and Hon­data S300 V2 sup­port the mo­tor, while an Exedy clutch fa­cil­i­tates the power trans­fer.

Sus­pen­sion has been up­graded with Ex­ceed SSD coilovers, Swift springs, and beefier sta­bi­lizer bars—a 26mm-di­am­e­ter EK9 OEM ver­sion in front and 24mm ASR ver­sion in back—while brakes got made over with CR-V for­ward ro­tors and calipers, In­te­gra rear ro­tors and calipers, and Pro­ject Mu Club Racer pads all around. The wheel setup on Michael’s Civic is made up of 16x7 Volk TE37S in front and 15x7 Ko­sei K1 rims in back.

3rd Chris Arias 1:27.641

We’re gonna stick our neck out a bit and say Arias’ car was ar­guably the crowd fa­vorite at Ffb10—such a clean ex­e­cu­tion, and for a car that’s al­most 30 years old! It cer­tainly didn’t move like an old car, due pri­mar­ily to the re­built ‘96-spec JDM Type R B18C and gear­box swapped into the en­gine bay.

The CRX’S ath­leti­cism was fur­ther en­hanced with a list of chas­sis mods that in­clude an Eibach Multi Pro R2 sus­pen­sion; PCI front up­per con­trol arms, spher­i­cal rear trail­ing arm bush­ings, and rear cam­ber kit; ASR an­chor arms and 24mm­di­am­e­ter rear roll bar; and much more. Each cor­ner of the ’Rex houses Wil­wood DPHA brakes and 15x8 Volk TE37SLS. But it’s that ex­te­rior that drove ev­ery­one crazy. Arias says the look is made up of Deep Se­ban fender over­lays, J’s Rac­ing front bumper and rear spoiler, Mu­gen rear spoiler, PCI side skirts and front split­ter brack­ets, Track­life fender cutouts, and cus­tom air dam and car­bon-fiber hood vents with Pro­fes­sional Awe­some Rac­ing air ducts.

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