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MPTCC Round 2 - Sonoma Raceway

MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
By Justin Banner

 

You know, people accuse road racing of being boring with little action on the track and what seems like very cut and dried drivers that don't throw around any drama. Well, I can tell you that isn't true. These guys have a passion for racing that is unmatched in many series. You have Michele Abbate coming all the way out from Las Vegas to run in our series. Edik Stepanyan's entire effort is all family. And even our very own Project Infiniti G20 Racecar is just a two man effort from our resident nerds Steve Rockwood and Martin Gonzales.  Every racer who competes in the MPTCC is out here because they love roadracing and the nearly unlimited ingenuity of the series. However, that can catch some off guard, very off guard.

 

MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
What people tend to forget is that MPTCC is a part of the multiclass racing that is grassroots motorsports. So we get to see interesting cars like this Thunder Roadster. They are designed and built by the same company that designs and builds the Legends race cars, U.S. Legend Cars International. While they race in NASA, they are governed and sanctioned by INEX. They run full tube-frame cars with Yamaha 1250cc motorcycle engines, so they aren't likely to die.
 
MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
Speaking of Legends cars, they were raced in Group C along with the Thunder Roadsters, which was also the Group that the MPTCC ran in this weekend. Seemed like this time they had a good group as there were no full course cautions and vehicle to vehicle contact was kept at a minimum, but they also didn't have Honda Challenge to deal with either.
 
MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
However, that wasn't to say stuff couldn't happen...
 
MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
This happened during qualifying on Steve Rockwood's lap, though the Legend car stayed out of the way and Steve's run didn't seem like it was affected by it.
 
MPTCC Round 2 - Sonoma Raceway
In Qualifying for Race 1 on Saturday, Edik Stepanyan gained Pole Position in the DA Acura Integra. It was several seconds ahead of the second place qualifier. His time was a 1:51.176.
 
MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
Second Place went to our Project Infinit G20 Racecar piloted by Steve Rockwood. He recorded a time of 1:57.701, nearly 6 seconds off the pace of Edik. He complained to me about not having a feature car like Edik and Michele. Hmmm, you know, there are the BUILD ARTICLES.
 
MPTCC Round 3 - Sonoma Raceway
Third Place went to Michele Abbate in the Gruppe-S/Autosport Dynamics Scion tC. I didn't get all over the track this time, but she didn't have the wheels up as often as she did at Fontana. Shame, I wanted her to embarrass the WTAC guys in wheels up action. Oh, well, there is next round. Her time was a 1:59.508

 

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Comments
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 6:36 AM
You know, whatever the results, this looks like a fun rules setup to go racing under. Too bad you all are on the west coast instead of midwest...
Wrecked
Wreckedlink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:20 AM
I've always wondered about the hp rules in MPTCC. Other cars ECUs may be different, but with Evos for example, it is possible to have dual maps that can be switched using an existing dash switch or the throttle pedal. Sealing up the engine bay and ECU wouldn't help in a case like that. You would have to pull the map and examine it.

This is not to imply that Edik was/is cheating.
Wrecked
Wreckedlink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:21 AM
How do you even guard against having different boost controller settings?
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 7:41 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's why SCCA at least seems to hate turbos in club racing; it's a whole different rules philosophy though, in that they try to control power by restricting modifications without mandating an actual number. Though frankly, in a few classes, that's turning into a mess itself; look up what the Formula Atlantic guys are saying about engine rules for an example.

In a pro-style series (World Challenge for example) what you'd do is have a boost sensor that's being datalogged by the organziers; that's not really a club-level-friendly solution though, and does nothing for NA guys.

Not that I'm saying anyone is cheating, but given modern hardware (not being used in MPTCC as far as I know) like the Motec PDM that you can program in almost infinite ways... how would you detect cheating unless organizers could go through the code? From what I understand, you could have the PDM respond to a specific code (I imagine twiddling the Contra code in menu selection playback buttons but that's me) to switch to a different map with 20 extra horsepower, then switch back whenever, say, the car has been stopped for more than a minute, or the engine power is cycled. Again, it's a big buck solution *now* but I can't but bet that lower priced equivalents are on their way, just like it used to be that not even all of the Formula 1 grid had EFI...

I think it's getting to be where there has to be a level of trust among competitors anyway to have a "lighter weight" regulation set of basically power/weight work. Which is disheartening if you don't have that trust.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 11:38 AM
is there a date set for Edik's dyno session at RRE?
JDMized
JDMizedlink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 3:29 PM
So after this race Edik's honesty is been questioned. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Like Kenku said, trust is something precious...break that bound, and you're done. I hope that's not Edik's situation.
All others cars made far less power on the dyno than his DA though....
I hope you guys find out what exactly is going on.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 10:46 PM
You guys did read this right? ;)
http://www.motoiq.com/magazine_articles/id/2098/dont-trust-strangers-how-dynos-lie-and-when-to-believe-one.aspx

The Scion had something seriously wrong internally = low power. The G20 had the alternator going out = low power.

Edik is a standup guy; I would never question his honesty.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 4:50 AM
If you can't be confident of correlation between an at-track dyno and a reference one, then what's the point of having it?
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 6:25 AM
If either of the other two cars would have been healthy, it would have allowed for some correlation between the two dynos with some confidence. However, neither of the other two cars were making anywhere near the power they should have due to mechanical issues and therefore there is no way to correlate.
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 7:09 AM
I want to make it clear that I'm not speaking about Edik's honesty or character or saying he is cheating. I don't know, obviously. I do know that all of this must be incredibly frustrating to the people involved.

I wasn't there, don't know anyone involved, etc - my only knowledge is from what I've done and what's written here. It sounds to me from the article that what was suspected as a mechanical problem on the Scion turned out to be a clanking intake pipe, and I know a lot of racers who run total loss electrical systems on non-enduro races with no problems. But then, maybe they were way down on power and Edik was right at the line he should be - but it's hard to know isn't it? There's 3 data points with all of them honestly unknown in absolute terms because it's not sure that the other two cars were healthy.

I don't know any better way to have handled things. Nowadays it must really be a headache to try to police horsepower like this if you can't rely on people to be honest - I'm sure we can all think of undetectable ways to cheat with modern electronics. Maybe my background gives me a different perspective though - a couple weekends ago I was at a club racing national championship where the post race impound tends to feature engine teardowns for the top 3 guys, and one gentleman spent something like 1.7 million in development this year.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:30 AM
You know, I just looked at the pictures of the cars on the dyno. They are using a hand-held leaf blower to blow air on the ICs.... that's not going to cut it. That explains the lower power for the two turbo cars where the NA car would not be affected.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:31 AM
And re: altenator, I had substantial power loss on my old turbo SE-R with just the belt slipping. So I can see a weak altenator significantly reducing power based on my own personal experience.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, October 04, 2012 4:12 PM
@ Khiem: The G20's issue was a loose tensioner bolt, which become severe during the race (the tensioner bolt had fallen completely off). While on the dyno, we did notice some loss of power on the top end, and this is one of many reasons it was decided to seal up Edik's car and dyno it at RRE. The alternator belt, while a little loose, wasn't squealing on the dyno except when the car was first started. It was barely into the "half-turn" zone when I checked it before the race. I re-tightened it before the race, but the bolt backed out again, and this time I lost all tension. We'll have to address this with a nylock and a bolt that goes all the way through the alternator, as this isn't the first time I've had this issue with a road-raced turbo SE-R. My guess is the heat cycling is a little severe.

The Scion did not have any issues on the dyno.

The leaf-blower was used in conjunction with sprayed water from a pesticide sprayer. Feeling the "cold" side of the IC afterwards, I didn't notice any excessive heat, and certainly less heat than our back to back to back to back (ad nauseum) reliability runs at JWT, where I literally burned my hand. Power dropped by 7whp at JWT after the 6th or 7th run in a row. The car actually made MORE power on the 2nd run on that dyno as opposed to the first, so I don't think heat soak was an issue.
warmmilk
warmmilklink
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 11:00 AM
has the dyno at RRE happened yet?
Justin Banner
Justin Bannerlink
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 4:16 PM
@warmilk
Yes it has, but you will see an update next week!
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