Project AP1.5 S2000: Introduction, Installation of AEM Infinity & Dyno Tuning!

by Karla Pestotnik


Okay, we know what you might be thinking. We already have two Honda S2000 projects at MotoIQ- why have a third? Plus, this one looks modified already- what else would you do to it that would be interesting? And, why call it an AP1.5? What is that?

Let us address all of these concerns. Yes, we have Project AP1 S2000 and also Project AP2 S2000. Both of those cars serve different purposes, with each having their own objective while still being mostly street-driven (but able to hold it down at the racetrack). Project AP1.5 is much different in that sense. Being owned and driven by MotoIQ’s own test driver, Karla Pestotnik, this is going to be a full Time Attack build. It already is a dedicated Time Attack car being campaigned by the Karla Pestotnik Racing team, however it is registered, insured, and has as much of the interior pieces still in it as possible in order to be compliant with Global Time Attack’s Street RWD class.

We could technically smog it, dig up the license plates (wherever they ended up) and drive it on the street, however it has been a few years since it has seen public streets. What started as a daily driver, has slowly turned into a dedicated, racetrack-only car. Below, is what the car looked like when it was first purchased four years ago.


Four years ago, it was a simple, clean S2000 for daily driving.


Now, it is a dedicated Time Attack car.

Although this S2000 is a dedicated Time Attack car, it is actually very basic (for a Time Attack build) and far under-built for the class ruling. In a class with unlimited power potential (as long as it retains a same manufacturer motor), forced induction and modifying engine internals are unlimited (nitrous is not allowed).

Project AP1.5 has been competing with a completely stock AP2 engine and drivetrain swap, which is why we call this an “AP1.5”. It’s an AP1 chassis with an AP2 swap (F22), and has a stock differential, ACT stage 2 6-puck clutch and an OEM AP1 flywheel. Power modifications include a Berk exhaust and Mugen headers. Suspension modifications include off-the-shelf KW Clubsports coilovers, J’s racing camber kit, J’s racing roll center adjuster, J’s racing bump steer kit, and Spoon Sports rigid collars. Aerodynamic modifications include a Kognition wing and custom front splitter. Finally, safety modifications include a Sparco Circuit 1 head containment seat, Sparco 6-point harnesses, Sparco 330mm steering wheel, a fire extinguisher, and a HardDog bolt-in roll bar. Perhaps you may remember this car from when we tested the Zestino Tyres Gredge 07RS at Willow Springs International Raceway. 

One of the easiest ways to marginally shave down lap times in an S2000 is by dyno tuning. Yes, this is beneficial for all cars, however being able to lower the VTEC engagement point can be crucial for momentum driving. Model years 2006 and newer with drive-by wire have the benefit of being able to do this with a FlashPro unit, and model years 2000-2005 can run an RSX ECU with a KPro unit. However, we chose to run a standalone AEM Infinity 506 in order to have almost endless capabilities for dyno tuning, engine management and data acquisition in addition to the desire for a lower VTEC engagement point. 


The AEM Infinity 506 standalone ECU will be crucial for this project car so that we will be able to monitor and analyze vital information after each run, with data acquisition up to 64GB available. That is a significant amount of space to capture several runs without having to download and clear data after each run. This is a huge relief for the author of this article, as other data acquisition systems that have been used on this car require the data to be deleted before each run. This allows the driver to focus on what they do best- driving!
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017 1:26 AM
Cool tech, but if you running a race program, you can get better gains from spending your money elsewhere. The problem with a stock S2000 is not the ECU, it's the suspension. You will get much better gains from your budget by focusing your money on the parts that truly make you faster around a track.

The person who best manages their budget will always win in racing.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 2:36 PM
I wish my track car had 200whp...
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 10:53 PM
I would prioritize my budget for a race car like this:

0. Remove weight, it's free!
1. Race Tires/Tire Temperature Gauges
2. Tuning Ride Height and Wheel Alignment for optimal contact patch heating (uniform tread temps)
3. Bushing, Bearing Replacement with spherical bearings or PU.
4. Sway bar/spring rate tuning (higher ride freq in rear)
5. Damper selection and tuning
6. Race brakes, MC Brace, Stainless Lines w/ F&R with bias adj

Esp. with a car like the S2000, a total momentum car. Until you know how to drive at the limit, you won't be fast. If that limit is lower than your competition, then you will be even slower. To be faster, you need to have your load spread as evenly as possible among all four contact patches throughout dynamic transitions...this is how you maximize the friction circle, and this is how you get through corners faster. The tire/suspension system determines the extent of the friction circle, not the engine.
Wednesday, November 01, 2017 10:17 AM
Ginsu, I agree to a certain extent. As stated in the article, the AEM Infinity is not the first modification to this car. A large chunk of money invested into this car was through the suspension and supporting components. The AEM Infinity is "the next step" to what else is to come for this car (which cannot be done without tuning capabilities). This is also why it took 4 years of ownership before getting a standalone ECU.

Although I agree with race budget management, what you listed out is an order of modifications for someone who is either building a car that they casually take to the track or building a car for a low budget wheel-to-wheel race class. This car is neither of that- it's a Time Attack build, and perhaps there is confusion on the purpose of this car. Time Attack cars (that are actually competitive in their respective classes) are far more extensively built and focus on things way beyond a stainless steel brake line upgrade, due to far less rule restrictions than 80% of SCCA, NASA, etc race classes. I'm sure you understand how restrictive race class rules are, and I have a separate car for that. Time Attack rules make those cars something that you actually want to build, versus figuring out how to make the car "suck" less with tight racing class rules.

For people just learning how to drive an S2000, I would never give them that list in the order you typed out. The stock suspension cannot handle race tires. I would never recommend someone to learn how to drive that car on race tires anyway- I would recommend them to learn on RS3's or something cheap with far less grip to understand basic dynamics without the race tires hiding a lot of it. The stock brakes are not sufficient and the OEM fluid/lines boil after 2-3 laps at pace. For someone just starting out, I always recommend them to just change brake pads, change brake fluid and ss lines if they can, align the car and just drive. Eventually they can upgrade wheels and tires when they can, but I'm a huge supporter of learning that car specifically in near stock form. Driver development skills are far at the top of the list for priorities, and keeping that priority before building the car will yield the best results.

Again, none of this applies to this project car. A lot of our project cars are something that we are starting from scratch, but this car is different in the sense that it has the basics done already and we are going to be making improvements off of that to better fit Time Attack class rules.
Wednesday, November 01, 2017 10:43 AM
Thanks, solid rebuttal. Good points.
Wednesday, November 01, 2017 10:46 AM
Thanks for enjoying our content and creating good conversations!
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