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K-Tuned Integra Type R Update: The Road to Super Lap Battle

James Houghton's 2017 Season Recap

by Frank Ewald

 

The K-Tuned Integra Type R is a truly amazing machine. Over the seasons I have been writing about James Houghton's Type R, I have been amazed at how driver and car come back year after year better and faster. While also pulling off some amazing victories along the way. The team behind this build, Lavigne Motorsports, has always focused on ensuring every component in the car is working at maximum efficiency. That is how the K-Tuned Integra Type R has remained competitive - even though it is significantly down on power when compared to its closest competition. Chasing efficiency is a never ending process, and the 2017 season is no different. With each passing event changes continue to be made, and we're gonna give you an insider's look at James' and the K-Tuned Integra's development througout this last season.

Being in the number one spot does essentially paint a bullseye on your back, and James has had no issue with that. In fact, he enjoys it. The challengers have come and gone - except for Will Au-Yeung in the Vibrant Performance Civic. The two teams have been in a seasaw battle for Unlimited FWD supremacy and were the talk of the paddock at last year's Super Lap Battle. Right now the Civic absolutely has an advantage in the horsepower department - a 180 whp advantage to be exact. 

James is the first to admit the competition with his long time friend and neighbor has been incredible. James and Will have known each other since the early 2000s, but the competition did not begin until Will started competing in his Acura RSX. Since then they have been challenging each other, one pushing the other to improve, and both of them knowing they had to bring their A game when the other was competing. James, of course, always brings his A game no matter what, but their rivalry definitely pushed the develop of the Type R to what it is today.

Rumor has it that more cars are being built to tackle James and Will head on. There is no question this is a moment where James is absolutely battling time. The real question is how does he keep getting faster!

 

You don't get a checkered flag in Time Attack, but you get a checkered flag when you're the winner of the CSCS Max Attack race! The K-Tuned Type R is not just a one lap wonder. In Max Attack, the cars are gridded with the fastest at the back. To win, they must work through the pack in 5 laps of intense wheel to wheel action. James and the K-Tuned Integra are one of the small number of front wheel drive cars pushing past RWD and AWD class competitors. Some of today's FWD time attack builds are simply incredible.

 

James has not been content to sit and wait for others to catch up. Each winter he and Eric from Lavigne Motorsports go to work on the Integra to extract every bit of speed from the chassis. James demonstrated the capability of the Type R at Gingerman Raceway when he went four seconds faster around the track than the Dodge ACR's record setting run in 2016. Four seconds faster than a V10 RWD in a FWD Integra! 

Of course, this is not not just any Integra. James' car is based on grassroots racing principles, and if you have the time, energy, and a reasonable budget (let's be honest, you cannot be serious about any kind of racing without spending money), you could replicate this car. Do not be misled into thinking there are bottomless pockets behind this team, as that is definitley not the case. Sure, there are some great sponsors on board, but like any other race program, finances are a constant concern. Though if you manage to get the necessary funding to get your program off the ground, you'll be hard pressed to replicate the driver, mechanic, and team surrounding this car. 

 

This past winter, the K-Tuned Type R received some updates as it got ready for an early spring start. The engine has mostly remained untouched since the amazing weekend the team had last November at GTA - SuperLap Battle, though some work was done before the GTA Road Atlanta event last August. The winter off-season focus was to fine tune the car's aero and work on weight reduction. The car also got a new wrap for 2017 that is stunning. When you see the two K-Tuned cars out on track, you may need to look closely to ensure you are not mistaking them. James' car has a distinctive white nose.

 

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ginsu
ginsulink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:26 AM
That splitter design is pretty awful. You need to read up on 'pitch sensitivity' and how it affects downforce. There is no way you are getting good flow to your rear diffuser through the corners with that current splitter design. You need, a 'radiused edge' in the front to make sure that the air doesn't get cut off during mid corner when the suspension loads are highest. I can already tell you, that if I was your competitor, I would already know where you would understeer on course and lose speed.

Porpoising

Porpoising is a term that was commonly used to describe a particular fault encountered in ground effect racing cars.

Racing cars had only been using their bodywork to generate downforce for just over a decade when Colin Chapman's Lotus 78 and 79 cars demonstrated that ground effect was the future in Formula One, so naturally at this point under-car aerodynamics were still very poorly understood. To compound this problem the teams that were keenest to pursue ground effects tended to be the more poorly funded British "garagiste" teams, who had little money to spare for wind tunnel testing and tended simply to mimic the front-running Lotuses (including the Kauhsen and Merzario teams).[citation needed]

This led to a generation of cars that were designed as much by hunch as by any great knowledge of the finer details, making them extremely pitch sensitive. As the centre of pressure on the sidepod aerofoils moved about depending on the car's speed, attitude and ground clearance, these forces interacted with the car's suspension systems and cars began to resonate, particularly at slow speeds, rocking back and forth - sometimes quite violently. Some drivers were known to complain of sea-sickness.[citation needed] This rocking motion, like a porpoise diving into and out of the sea as it swims at speed, gives the phenomenon its name. These characteristics, combined with a rock-hard suspension resulted in the cars giving an extremely unpleasant ride. Ground effects were largely banned from Formula One in the early 1980s, but Group C sportscars and other racing cars continued to suffer from porpoising until better knowledge of ground effects allowed designers to minimise the problem.

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ginsu
ginsulink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:27 AM
Uh. Sorry, didn't think that would come out so large. Should've used the 'width' tag. If I could edit it I would. Sorry about that.
Sootfoot
Sootfootlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:31 AM
fixed ;)
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:42 AM
ginsu, the splitter design, underbody work, and rear diffuser does work because this driver/car beat Rado and Dai's time at Buttonwillow plus Rado's time at Road Atlanta. I don't usually talk smak in responding to comments on my articles, but if you were on the same track as James you'd be so far behind that you wouldn't see whether he was understeering or not. However, in all fairness to you, in this article and the previous one we have not gone into the underbody areo. That is an area that I am not allowed to discuss and I respect the team's wishes on that. Otherwise, they're a pretty open book.
Sootfoot, thanks for fixing the picture width. But the giant pic did help emphasize the point! ;)
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:49 AM
ginsu, also note that the splitter in the front cover photo was revised mid-season. That photo was a late addition to the article while the splitter pics I tried to focus on were the later version. Racing - does have some trial and error. Writing too!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 9:03 AM
Well if you think his splitter is terrible, his car pulls over 2 lateral G's in mid speed and higher turns and his car is one of the 2 fastest FWD cars in North America and maybe the world.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 9:04 AM
Ginsu are you a FSAE guy?
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 9:07 AM
Mike, 3.3 lateral G's. 2.5 G's under braking.

Good point about the formula cars - ginsu?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 2:31 PM
That is damn good for having a splitter that has an "awful" design. I wish I could design such terrible stuff!
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 3:41 PM
3.3 g's??!?!?!?!?!!??!?! and I was all excited when I did 1.4 (according to Harry's Laptimer on my iPhail, so may not be all that accurate)
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 5:08 PM
Warmmilk, don’t take my word for it. Page 8 or 9 has screenshots from the RacePak system showing the results. I can only dream of such numbers with my car.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 5:12 PM
yeah I saw that. looks like high 2's for sustained with 3.3 as a peak
czubaka
czubakalink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7:36 PM
I could easily exceed 3.3g's in my street car...once.
brian6speed
brian6speedlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7:41 PM
Thanks for the good read.

I did notice on page 5 you mentioned Will driving his RSX when I think you meant his Civic. On page 6 it seems like you got top/bottom splitter descriptions mixed up.
nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 9:41 PM
czubaka, please don't try that! ;)

Brian6speed, The PZ Tuning RSX has been put back into service this year. I don't think that I'm wrong in saying it was the RSX at Mid-Ohio. Likewise, while the Civic is on a ship heading to Australia for World Time Attack the RSX is going to be running at SpeedRing this weekend.
And on p. 6 the photo where the splitter is beige coloured is absolutely the underside (facing pavement) of the splitter. The photo with the black carbon look is the top (engine side) of the splitter. Hope that helps.
Frank
ginsu
ginsulink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:17 PM
Well. As usual people address my comments with 'smack talk' instead of factual talk.

Of course, I can go into detail about the 'why' of my comments are valid. But, obviously, some of the people on this forum want a formal education for which I simply do not have time to provide. I would direct you to EDUCATE YOUSELVES BY READING BOOKS. I will provide some reference material as follows.

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/the-physics-of-diffusers-how-to-make-a-car-really-suck-feature

http://www.symscape.com/blog/secrets_of_diffusers

http://www.racecar-engineering.com/technology-explained/diffusers-engineering-basics-aerodynamics/

http://www.rapid-racer.com/aerodynamic-upgrades.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffuser_(automotive)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_effect_(cars)

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ginsu
ginsulink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:19 PM
The essential problem is that this car has a 'front splitter' but no 'front diffuser'. That's the problem in a nutshell. If you want to argue 'why' you should have a front diffuser, I would direct you to LeMans Prototypes and 'why' they design the cars with front diffusers. Honestly, you should all be intelligent enough to understand this stuff. It's not even 'pre-grad' level engineering. It's basic common sense at this point if you know anything about race cars.
ginsu
ginsulink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:30 PM
Toyota (and ORECA) have been paying special attention to the front end aero of the car, perhaps as part of the front or rear hybrid debate. The car has already appeared with a revised nose diffuser (below).

Your Image

Your Image




Do you see a '3 foot long solid plank of wood' as a 'front splitter on these cars'...or do you see a more sophisticated design? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question.




You should have flow-viz paint, and you should be confirming that you do not have any flow separation through the front diffuser.

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nissannx
nissannxlink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 11:13 PM
ginsu, I'm not questioning the facts that you're presenting. I did point out that if you took out a car (assuming it was a similarly classed car) and were competing head to head with this Type R that you would be left behind - because that is the fact up to this point in time. I did also point out that there are aspects of this car's aero which I have not and will not go into because the team has requested that. Perhaps that may give you or others reason to pause and consider that more might be at play than what you see. And as I have stated before, I would be the first to admit that I know only a little about race cars and even less about engineering. I am truly an amateur. This isn't to say that in the future perhaps it won't be a 3' solid plank - but right now, while there are other styles in other racing formats, this solid plank is working. And as I'm writing about this car and what it is currently doing, that is my focus. Perhaps the discussion will lead to something different in the future - one thing about racing is that it never stands still. As always, Thank you for commenting.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 11:25 PM
@ginsu
so everything you do is absolutely perfect and has no room for improvement? if you overcook your pasta buy 17 seconds do you throw it away?

ok so the splitter isn't absolutely perfect, but it still works as reflected in its laptimes and the lateral g's the car pulls. but he should just rip it off and drive without it, right?
ginsu
ginsulink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 1:16 AM
The point was to INITIATE A DISCUSSION. Not to descend to name calling. I don't expect much from people in this time and era. But, I do expect better from engineers. You know who you are.
ginsu
ginsulink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 1:26 AM
It's true, I'm a very confrontational and 'sharp' personality. You might notice by my choice of username. I have used that name for over 20 years to remind myself of what my purpose is.

You will notice, through time, that I attack the 'design' and not the person. That is because I believe all people are fallible, and the design process is never complete. That is, I wanted somebody to state that this is 'splitter version 1.0' and we are working on 'splitter version 2.0' for next season. Finally, somebody did confirm that.

The problem with racing is that everybody wants to keep 'secrets' but as the 'audience' it is a distinctly boring exercise to discuss old technology and pretend it is still relevant. I'm probably not going to compete again in racing, personally, as it far exceeds my budget. If I ever do get enough money, you can bet I'd be winning if I was able to get a decent driver. Putting that all together, is probably far beyond my personal capacity, and that's why you don't see me out there with a car. But, that's not that I don't have the capacity to do so. Just because you don't have a competitor doesn't mean that people can't compete.
ginsu
ginsulink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 2:06 AM
Besides, after I won 5 consecutive world championships, do I really have anything left to prove in racing?

I dunno, there would have to be some money in it. I do it for a job, but I wouldn't spend my own money on a car anymore.

Once you're at the top, you just move onto something else. There's nothing left to prove. You will realize that after you win for awhile.
ginsu
ginsulink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 2:11 AM
The GFR has won Formula Student Austria every year since the its inception in 2009, and this year was no different. The competition was fiercely close, but the team took their fourth straight victory by winning the final event, after trailing for most of the competition.

http://mime.oregonstate.edu/global-formula-racing-dedications-key
ginsu
ginsulink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 2:14 AM


2015

cCar FSAE Michigan (1st Place)

FS Austria (1st Place)

FS Germany (1st Place)



eCar FS Austria (3rd Place)

FS Germany (4th Place)

2014

cCar FSAE Michigan (1st Place)

FS Austria (1st Place)

FS Germany (1st Place)

FS Spain (1st Place)



eCar FS Austria (3rd Place)

FS Germany (16th Place)

2013

cCar FSAE Michigan (25th Place)

FS Austria (17th Place)

FS Germany (1st Place)



eCar FS Austria (6th Place)

FS Germany (18th Place)

2012

cCar FSAE Michigan (1st Place)

FS Austria (1st Place)

FS Germany (38th Place)



eCar FS Austria (23th Place)

FS Germany (10th Place)

2011

cCar FSAE Michigan (1st Place)

FS Austria (1st Place)

FS Germany (1st Place)

FSAE California (13th Place)

FS UK (15th Place)



eCar FS Austria (17th Place)

FS Germany (3rd Place)

2010

cCar FSAE Michigan (1st Place)

FS Austria (1st Place)

FS Germany (10th Place)

FSAE California (9th Place)

FS UK (16th Place)

FS Italy (1st Place)


nissannx
nissannxlink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 5:46 AM
ginsu, I am sorry if you feel that I have attacked. That is absolutely not my intent. If you looked over the articles that I have written over the course of this car, you would see that this is not version 2 of the splitter. This article indicates it is version 2 of 2017. This car has had multiple splitters and much areo design. It is easily version 4 or 5 or 6. I simply haven't counted them all. My intent was to show the development and that it has resulted in massive improvement in time at the same tracks. As to secrets, well, as much as I would personally like to write about everything that I know it would simply not be fair to the team at this point in time. They've put their own sweat, time, and money into getting the car to this point. I enjoy the discussion that you bring and recognize that you bring far more knowledge to the table than I do - but I really did not intend to have anyone feel like there was name calling. My username, nissannx, is also one that is about 20 years old and reflects my personal car which I've had since 1992. But feel free to contact me - Frank Ewald - my email is frank at ewaldperformance dot com
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:22 AM
@ginsu

you're the one that started the "discussion" with an insult. Instead of saying "That splitter design is pretty awful." you could have said something along the lines of "that splitter could be improved further by doing this other stuff"
Time_Attack_TypeR
Time_Attack_TypeRlink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 2:16 PM
Ginsu. I am the owner and the driver of the car. You seem to have a very high opinion of yourself. You could probably help a lot of people with your knowledge if you didn't come off as a total ass hole.

As you said the reason you don't race is because of lack of finances. The reason my car isn't more developed is also because of a lack of finances. But I assure you as time goes on this car will get better and better. I spend nearly every extra dollar I have making this car better and the splitters that you're showing(although wouldn't work at all on a production based cars for a bunch of different reasons) would be way more expensive to produce and not feasible currently in my budget.

I assure you it is so much different building your little glorified go kart vs building a high level time attack car based off a production based chassis(not saying my car is high level there are much crazier builds out there then mine). On your Fsae cars you have a very ideal base to start with which is not the case with a production based vehicle!

I think if you attempted to implement all your ideas on a time attack car you would be shocked how difficult it would be to execute them.

Have a nice day and feel free to stop hiding behind your computer spewing dickish comments!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, September 28, 2017 11:22 PM
Ginsu, what you are stating about aero is no duh stuff to a motorsports engineer. However in the real world with a grassroots budget, you get things done with what you can make with the money and time you have. Usually for a decently funded grassroots guy, hiring me as a consultant is a cheap way to go a lot faster.

I do this stuff for a living and even at the highest level of the sport, there is a budget. What I do for our time attack team and what James does on his car, is done with very little money or time. It is done by guys working largely by themselves in small shops in their spare time after work for free with a few buddies helping at the track.

I am in awe of what James has done with his resources and I am pleased with the results we get with our car as well. It's doing more with less, we are building old unibody Honda sedans that are faster than Formula Atlantic cars and other purebred racing cars.

A lot of us are "more educated" and know how to build better aero but there is no money, time or both to make more elaborate aero. More complicated aero designs are also riskier if you cannot afford to do CFD and physical testing. Aero is not intuitive and going beyond the basics is not as simple as cutting and pasting aero features from LMGP cars. It is really easy to go backwards.

Like I tell most of my clients, step one is to do the basics well and doing that puts you ahead of 90% of your competition.

I think you need to try doing a racing series with sedans that are pretty rule-bound by unibody, suspension and tire rules. Student racing is cool but try competing to where you are pretty hamstrung by the rules set. That combined with low budgets is harder.

I think that's pretty cool and get a kick out of it. The best of us are not the ones who build cool stuff that works good on paper but the ones that can get the best results with what you are given!

One thing I might add, if you decide to make a living at being a motorsports engineer, if you already know everything, you won't get any better!
cheechthechi
cheechthechilink
Friday, September 29, 2017 12:35 AM
I'm late to this conversation but I'll put in my 2 cents based on skimming this discussion and the various perspectives. First definite props to James and crew, the car has progressed nicely since I've been involved in the TA game. Second, posting pictures of professional race car aero, talking about rules of thumb, and doing aero "analysis" by looking at parts without quantitative and qualitative analysis has little use, imho. This is a general comment most of the points brought up and just a pet peeve of mine when it comes to engineering discussions. Engineering is the application scientific principles and math. Letting data and logic guide your decisions keeps "controversies" about what is good aero and bad aero out. If you don't have data or analysis to back up claims you are not engineering. Sorry. Professsional racecars are built to fit within specific rules and regulations and optimized around those constraints. Its not a once size fits all approach.

To actually "engineer" something you need to follow a scientific approach. Let data guide your decisions. Use visual testing methods to look at the flow field around the car. Use quantitative testing methods to measure how changes in your aero effect the car. Hell even with those tools its hard to get it right! With that datalogger on board, James and team are headed in the right direction (better start adding more sensors to that car!) to do better aero analysis. Best of luck and hope to see you guys at SLB.

cheechthechi
cheechthechilink
Friday, September 29, 2017 12:56 AM
I should have read the previous comments more carefully. It seems that my points were already brought up, so there is nothing that my previous comment adds to the discussion, other than add more sensors to the car! More data! More data!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, September 29, 2017 8:00 AM
Ginsu you say "I" a lot without giving any credit to your team. Winning, especially in FSAE is never just one of the engineers, or let me say engineering students, it is a well-coordinated effort from the many individuals working together. The driver has a little to do with it as well. Also to say I am a winning FSAE person and I have nothing more to prove in the world of motorsports is pretty amazing. You are just starting and you can grow to go on to do many other great things. Or you can decide you know everything and stay where you are, the one-time king of go-kart deluxes running in parking lots. In this sport, you are always learning.
240rsMaxi
240rsMaxilink
Monday, October 02, 2017 9:47 AM
"Besides, after I won 5 consecutive world championships, do I really have anything left to prove in racing?
I dunno, there would have to be some money in it. I do it for a job, but I wouldn't spend my own money on a car anymore.
Once you're at the top, you just move onto something else. There's nothing left to prove. You will realize that after you win for awhile."

This is cute and all but I think you suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. Here is the definition I found on Google. "Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

If you don't have doners, corporate sponsors, unlimited access to university machine and computing equipmen, things besides cones and a parking lot that can damage said splitter, a team of engineers (to help you win the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!) and more than 1-2 people helping out with any part of the car, it becomes more difficult to build the ideal parts like the $75,000 front wing on a Lola.

You must be a joy to work with.

warmmilk
warmmilklink
Thursday, October 19, 2017 7:06 PM
so... um... kinda jumping on the "improve your splitter" bandwagon here, but I just came across the Andrew Brilliant's Infinity Wing. seams like a big set forward in splitter / front wing technology, and the way he explained it worked it seams like it'd benefit FWD cars more than RWD cars... not saying your splitter sucks, but check this out

https://youtu.be/X8BufOqfZlE
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