2013 Scion FR-S: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Track Weekend
July 17, 2013
The right way to set up a car is with a tire pyrometer, an open track and lots and lots of time. We would do precisely none of those things for this trip. This can only mean total failure! Right?
Nah. Turns out the Scion FR-S's handling is better than ever, both on the road and track. The alignment in its current state (front: -1.9 degrees camber, zero toe; rear: -1.7 degrees camber, 1/16" total toe in), even if not dialed to said max optimum-ness, has yielded more communication, grip (as measured by my buttometer) and progression than it had last time it was here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
At track-out, the back end rotates more gradually so you can pick up the throttle sooner and carry more speed out of the turn. Of course, this car lacks the power to do this in every corner. Or even most corners. Turn Five, for example, is an exercise in getting the car pointed at the apex as early as possible so that you can stand on the gas and...gently creep up the hill towards Turn Six.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a track that rewards horsepower, and its turns have more of a rhythm to them when you have it. In a full-weight, stock-power car on street tires such as this one, the bit of waiting between corners makes each one a more discrete, segmented experience. Still, I'm really enjoying the Scion FR-S here, particularly as I don't need to back way off every lap and a half to keep the brakes from going limp. It's more like three and half laps now.
Yeah. That, and these track pads (XP8/XP10) don't have a lot of bite at jump-in, so you need to use more of the pedal's travel to extract braking force. Basically, with these pads you need to jam the pedal to the floor in short order. This in turn makes reaching the throttle in heel-toe maneuvers quite awkward.
As a result, in braking zones I'd have to release the brake pedal slightly to blip the gas, downshift, then resume hard braking. This is not ideal by any stretch. It lengthens the braking zone and saps confidence (and makes the guy in the 911 who's been chasing you for the past two laps wonder just what the hell is wrong with you when you brake for Turn 11). Plus the brakes eventually wilted anyway. Not blown away by these pads, though I suspect some cooling would help with the latter bit.
The tires held up better. They'd get ever so slightly greasy near the end of each session but breathing off the speed for a few corners would bring them back. They never 'fell off the cliff,' completely though, and remained nicely progressive even in this overheated state. In summary, the Yokohama AD08 tires have given us terrific dry grip, nice breakaway, surprisingly good recovery, are noisy and have dismal wet handling characteristics.
Another benefit to increased negative camber is that the outer tread blocks are taking less of a pounding. On a car that sees a lot of track time you can actually extend the tires' life this way. More grip plus longer life equals win. If you simply plod along on the freeway with the -2.0 degrees front camber we have, expect the inner tread to go away first.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor