Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Conceptualizing & execution...

Every creation begins with an ideal, concept or desired attribute to be attained and what my S2000 is no exception. In Dec 2007, I chose a brand new S2000 because it was relatively affordable, more reliable than the old turbo car I had, it being new meant I had a fresh start to every single modification and it was a platform I had never experienced before. I could not deny that I would have really hoped to get a Cayman S or Exige S but both options were far too expensive to afford in both purchase price & running costs.

Seeing how the S2000 was almost half the price of either cars, my goal was to make the S2000 as capable (or more capable) than both cars on the reference track of Sepang International Circuit while retaining daily driver capability. Reliability and affordability of running costs were also vital. This led to me to the following probable list of modifications and desired results:

Modifications (which should be road legal & daily driver friendly)
Aerodynamics, Intake & exhaust changes, a reprogrammed ECU and gear ratio changes
Power attained should be ~280-290 bhp with acceleration able to match/exceed the abovementioned references on the Sepang straights
Street tyred setup (this is regardless of the reference Exige S being on semi slicks)
Lap time reference on Sepang for the car to hit would be stock Exige S or Cayman S timings performed by a professional driver.

By Feb~Mar 2011, the car will be 90% complete to this level and shakedowns will be complete which will give me a bit more data to fine tune settings & expectations.

This is the stock car before:

This is the work in progress:

When I first drove the S2000, I was not particularly impressed with the suspension which came as stock however I did grow to appreciate the chassis potential which was sort of smothered by the failings of the suspension. Sort of like how a lovely piece of steak is made to taste ordinary by poorly done sauce. The current Tein suspension on the car does justice to the car and once properly set up, I'm confident the true quality of the chassis will shine. Tyres, rims and the sizing have been chosen to match the overall setup.

Here are pics of the suspension, rims & tyres installed:

The gearbox of the S2000 shifts like a dream and is the best shifting gearbox I have ever experienced with unmatched precision and feel. The ratios are well arranged for the peakiness of the engine but I have done some minor adjustment to the overall gearing to better match the tracking needs of the car.

The F22C 2.2 litre engine of the S2000 is a proven gem pumping out >240hp with a 8200rpm rev cut and its rock solid reliability is quite well known. I have noted some room for improvement in the intake and exhaust systems with optimizing of the power curve and ECU settings that could yield decent gains while retaining as much reliability of the original engine.

Considering the track going nature of the car, I have beefed up cooling on the engine oil and coolant to enhance the long term reliability of the engine. Brake cooling has also been done to yield potential increases in pad life & rotor life while potentially reducing the heat stresses (on perhaps bearings and joints in the suspension system) caused by overheated brake components.

Here is a picture of the ducting to cool the brakes and the large oil cooler I have fitted:

One final area that has been extremely vital to the S2000 development has been to the aerodynamic setup. The Cayman S & Exige S benefit from having advanced bodywork that aids cooling, reduces drag or increases downforce which all add up to excellent performance through the corners.The S2000 body design is hardly changed since 1999 and thus is lacking in this area. One notable area is the amount of lift that is generated at the rear of the car which I noticed when driving the stock car to speeds close to 180kmh. The stock car would generate so much lift at 150~180kmh that the tail would get very light and prone to snapping so much so that I needed to add more additional rear camber and toe to stabilize the rear end at speed. The aerodynamic setup of the car will be completely redone by mid 2011 to give weight savings, drag reduction and added downforce in keeping with the reference class of cars.

Pics of the aero work done so far:

With the details worked out for the concept of how the S2000 is to be modified, what's only left is the execution of the setup and testing. There have been doubters to my goal who claim that S2000 is not capable of being benchmarked with the abovementioned serious driver's cars but it is my sincere wish that the lap times and overall performance numbers will demonstrate beyond a doubt that Honda has delivered the goods in this one unforgettable sports car. Best and most important of all, I will be experiencing the deliverance of this raw driving pleasure every single day...

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This is a blog created specially to document the journey of my S2000 build and more critically my development as a driver.

Before I elaborate on what my car is currently being set up with and my goals, perhaps I should start with what my beginnings were.

I was pretty much a car idiot as a teenager and never had a big thing for them. Until finally egged on my friends, I took my licence in NS and got my first taste of driving. I drove pretty boring cars including Nissan's, Hyundai's and the like up until I met a few friends who let me try cars including Efini RX7, civic vtecs, CLK and WRX. That tied in with my side job/business selling car parts which a friend of mine dragged me into doing. I was never afraid to try new cars out and push them to the limits. I was often keen to spend entire nights driving til the wee hours and was by that time totally hooked to driving & cars so much so that I gave up virtually all other pursuits.

The first vehicle of mention that I  was pretty known for driving was a humble Renault. Those who know me well enough know that I'd heel toe and corner like a madman on this vehicle leading to some really heart stopping moments for my friends watching. I had sort of a bit of a following with that vehicle since some felt it really showed my driving skills beyond what the vehicle could do. To some, it was even a bit legendary ;) The second vehicle was a WRX which I had also put through some really exciting races including ~200kmh cornering and ~280kmh top speeds. This vehicle also built a following til the point certain folks gathered to watch the car and some even arranged challenges in an effort to take me down through a race.

Here are pics of my WRX:

Much of the driving then was just based on bravado rather than skill (I also was pretty keen to try handbrake turns on whatever I got my hands on!) but one friend emphasized smoothness in driving which led me in the constant pursuit of silky smooth gearshifts, it is probably because of the idea of smooth shifting that led me to constantly be aware of how shifting affected car balance. Eventually, I found my technique lacking and began to practice heel & toe gearshifts til today where I aim for perfect shifts as often as possible. The book Going Faster by Carl Lopez was also instrumental in making me consciously identify where my skill was lacking.

Driving softer suspension cars led me to have a feel for how braking and throttle application/liftoff changed balance on the car and I have always been constantly experimenting on how pedal actions can turn/pitch the car. This also led to my reduction of reliance on the steering to turn the car in an effort to reduce scrubbing and earlier straightening of the wheel to enhance exit speeds.

A word of caution to those who gotten to know certain "driving/car guru's": Driving is a skill perfected by constant practice and analytical thought process at the highest level. The "guru's" who claim to be aggressive and fearless with certain "gifts" to make them peerless at driving are probably just full of hot air. I have been told how to drive by certain competitive MME participants, Kallang Rally drivers, etc and analysis of the "skills" they imparted showed me how flawed their technique was compared to professional racing driver techniques (some even claimed I would blow a gearbox in 6 months with my aggressive technique but I have done 3 years on this gearbox & used oil analysis has proven minute wear on my gearbox, evidence of proper shifting technique) . I have only this to say: Look at how the professionals, like rally & race drivers, drive through videos & print and you will learn the proper techniques alot quicker and correctly.

Today, since 3 yrs ago, I have a Honda S2000 with a 2.2 litre engine & 6 speed gearbox. Probably one of the best driver's car around, it has taught me invaluable lessons. Some of the those lessons were rewarding and some more painful but it has all contributed to me being a sharper driver. Perhaps one day I will be a very good driver but for now, I will strive for perfection every time I reach for the starter button...