My first Fiesta ST autocross:

Discussion in 'Fiesta ST Autocross' started by wash, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. wash

    wash Active Member

    I went to a "test and tune" event, its not timed and cones aren't counted in an effort to keep things moving and maximize run time.

    First thing, it rained!

    While some racers see that as spoiling the fun, the autocross drivers I met relished the chance to explore wet performance.

    It was wet in the morning then dried out so I got some of everything.

    At first there were two courses laid out, one with more sweeping turns and one tight course with sharp corners where you need to think about the line to get it right.

    Being an autocross noob in a small car I felt they were both pretty wide and I was impressed with the wet grip of the stock tires. As much as I pushed I didn't get snap spins or anything.

    In the afternoon the two courses were combined for a "long" course with a little bit of everything.

    My impression, it is very fun and a great tool for learning your car. I was either going really fast or it just seemed like each run was over in a flash.

    Since there was no timing it was hard to compare your performance. As a noob I mostly was trying to avoid chaining together mistakes. I'm not good at remembering courses but by the end I was actually remembering enough that I think I put together a couple decent laps.

    Everyone had about 20 runs total, about 5 each on the short courses and about 10 on the long course. That sounds better than an SCCA event where they say you only get 3-4 runs (and hope one is a good time). I was still learning the course at run 15 so SCCA sounds like a crap shoot to me. Maybe that will change with practice?

    Everyone there was pretty friendly and being "car people" many knew what my ST was (and several were Ecoboost challenge attendees), it got many comments including a report that I was three-wheeling it in at least one corner.

    I enjoyed myself and I think I'm going to have to try a timed event soon just so I can compare my times with other drivers in other cars.

    If you are on the fence, check out the events that are available in your area and do one!
    Mayhem likes this.
  2. RodMoe

    RodMoe Well-Known Member

    Did you have the ESC on off or in sport mode ?
  3. xorpheous

    xorpheous Member

    A Test-n-Tune event is different than a competitive event. At the Kansas City Region SCCA TnT, we typically get around 10-20 runs as well, but as you mentioned, the difference is no T&S, and no cone calls. It helps things move much faster. During an event, there just isn't time for so many runs and we typically get 4 runs, maybe 5 for a small event, but this year we've been having great turnout so 4 runs has been the standard. Having the course in your head is important, but the real key is to look ahead. When you encounter an element, your eyes should already be on the next, or even the next two. Road racers have it easy. :p

    What tires were you using, just the stock ones? Have you made any mods yet? What pressures did you run front and rear?
  4. wash

    wash Active Member

    I initially used the traction control and later shifted to sport mode.

    The area where I consistently had trouble was the 180° turn after the zig-zag emergency lane change section. I could accelerate through the zig-zag but wound up carrying too much speed for the 180. Then there was smoking rubber noise and a Fiesta ST which was a pushy and slow and always threatening to take out a bunch of cones but never actually getting there. I don't think defeating the traction control would have done anything there. Maybe some parking brake to rotate the rear around but that was a little beyond what I was trying to learn.

    One thing I did do was put in 5 gallons of 96 octane Sunoco. I got to the track empty and my unleaded options were 91, 96, 100 so I splurged on $7.99 a gallon 96. At the end of the day I did a bonehead move and didn't top it off with 91 so I burned up the extra on the highway with cruise control on.

    In the evening (dry) I was practicing my start, trying to find the right rpm between a bog and wheel spin and one time I really lit up the tires, way more than the burnout video that one Fiesta agent did, no parking brake, just sport mode. The parking lot track seemed to grip well, the surface was rough but not broken up like Golden Gate Fields (Ecoboost challenge venue). It could have been the surface, my tires, my engine or the 96 octane but it seemed like I could have spun them all day if I wanted and sport mode didn't seem to care.

    I've got no clue on my tire pressure, I've still got OEM air. I didn't notice the tires doing anything unpleasant and they don't look to beat up to my untrained eye.
  5. xorpheous

    xorpheous Member

    If you were still on OEM tires and hadn't checked your pressures, your pressures were probably too low and the tires too hard. Easy to get wheelspin coming out of a tight corner. I typically run 45psi in the front and 50psi in the rear in my SVTF with BFG Rivals (TW200). The 180 thing I bet is a braking point more than anything. Some great folks in the KCR including @Smokin helped me earlier this year to brake earlier, but roll in with more speed. I still end up coming in too hot and overcooking the turn (and my tires) all too often, but their constant coaching is helping.

    How was the balance of the car in the lane change and slalom elements?
  6. wash

    wash Active Member

    In the lane change, the car is pretty narrow and when you throw it in the first turn it settles quickly and predictably so its just two moves of the steering wheel and full throttle.

    I saw a lot of cars have to correct for the second turn, especially the powerful cars like an M3 or 911 turbo.

    For me the problem was too much speed at the end because there was a 180° turn after that.

    The course designers loved decreasing radius turns and that's what I felt like I was struggling with, if I came in too fast I had to break too much entering in to the corner and screwed up my line. If I came in slow, I was slow. I couldn't figure out how to stay on the edge through the whole thing.

    I'm not sure if what I say about balance will make any sense. If you're too hot in a corner the car can under steer but when you are not exceeding the available grip it seems to oversteer, especially on throttle which I would have thought would translate to under steer and torque steer but it actually didn't. I think the electronic differential, torque vectoring and electronic power steering are responsible for that.

    I'm still not 100% sure what its going to do in any situation and I wasn't brave enough to try ESC off but I have a better idea now.
    EvoNiner likes this.
  7. FiSTofFury

    FiSTofFury New Member

    Grats on getting into autocross! It's probably the best way to get the skills that translate into all other car motorsports easily within comfortable reason. Keep working at it. Wet courses are something that should be counted as a blessing.
    EvoNiner likes this.
  8. EvoNiner

    EvoNiner Active Member

    Most important thing In AutoX is to always look ahead. I'm very eager to try my fiesta st at this Sundays AutoX!

    Usually with fwds you can either let off the throttle to get it to rotate nicely into your line, or dab some left foot braking, but left foot braking sometimes isn't an option for every body. The fastest way to drive is usually the smoothest. Sometimes slow is faster and you'll find out going slower in one section will open up a better line through the next. Of what I've tested with the torque vectoring it seems to get rid of a lot of the normal under steer problem areas. Also, learning to actually use your own cars momentum can really come in useful. By what I mean is using the cars own natural body roll to use its weight transfer to help "slide" it into the correct line your trying to achieve. This comes in huge with my AWD, and FWD's can benefit from the same technique.

    But, it will all comedown to learning your car and understanding how to manipulate it. Your first few autoxs are all about learning to see the course, learning where to shift and where to brake and throttle. Sometimes it's as easy as just letting off the gas and the car will turn in sharper and easier then if you'd used the brakes.

    Glad you had fun man!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free
    Smokin likes this.
  9. MLKN

    MLKN Active Member

    I was at that event in my IS 350 at Sonoma. Noticed the FiST and admit I didn't know much about it. Did some research and ordered my own in tuxedo black with Recaro package. Hoping to have it by Nov 23rd event. Although I love beating on the IS too. You going?
  10. wash

    wash Active Member

    I think I will sign up, I just haven't done it yet.

    I guess it must have looked fast while I was driving.
  11. Smokin

    Smokin Active Member


    Gotta do it with ECS off. That's advice from all seasoned AXrs. I have experimented with it in both dry and wet and in competition the car is too unpredictable with the ECS on. Just for fun I used it in the wet on one run this year and about ran off the course on every turn. The computer doesn't know what you're trying to do so it counters your moves. ECS off=Go-fast......

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