posted on May 07, 2012 14:30
Tested: 999 Motorsports Supersport Racer!
By Mike Kojima, Photos by Dave Karey
What is as fast as a Smallbore GT race car and cheaper to operate than a Spec Miata? I recently got a call last week from Jackson Stewart, President of 999 Motorsports. Jackson had called to see if I was interested in driving their new Supersport race car. The Supersport is designed to be a user friendly and cheap to maintain purpose built race car that is fast enough to be fun but not so edgy as to be scary. A sort of poor man's Daytona Prototype. We eagerly made the trip down to Willow Springs to give the Supersport a spin.
|The Supersport is a 100% purpose built race car that is designed to be decently fast, super cheap to maintain and easy to work on as well as reasonably priced. Believe it or not the Supersport probably costs less to run than a competitive rules limited racing sedan like a Spec Miata or a Honda Challenge car! At 2200 lbs and 300 hp, it promises to be tons of fun. The Supersport will have its own racing spec series with NARRA and is also homologated for NASA's ST2 class. Come to think of it, the Supersport's cheap operating costs make it the ultimate track day play car as well.
|The Supersport's composite body is durable and can take a hit without coming apart and is easy to repair. The bodywork is also easily and quickly removable to provide complete access to just about all components. This access makes the Supersport a snap to work on.
|The Supersport has a full aero package with a composite aluminum and polypropylene honeycomb flat bottom, a front splitter and rear diffuser with an adjustable rear wing. It makes a lot of downforce. The Supersport has a 97" wheelbase and an overall length of 165.6 inches making it the size of a typical sport compact car. Make no mistakes though, the Supersport is not a modded street car but a purebred race car, designed from the ground up for the rigors of track use.
|The powerplant was selected to be fast, fun and cheap to operate. It is a GM Ecotec LNF turbo 4 displacing 1998cc. The engine is direct injection and pretty bulletproof as it is a stout engine and completely stock except for the peripherals. The engine features a Borg Warner EFR turbo on a cast twinscroll exhaust manifold, variable valve timing, forged internals with sodium filled intake and inconel exhaust valves. The engine can pump out a low stressed 300 hp and 340 lb/ft of torque all day long and probably go several seasons between freshening! If you wanted to, Ecotecs can be modified to make big power.
|The GM F35 5-Speed transaxle is straight out of a Cobalt SS. It has a clutch type limited slip differential and an Aasco lightweight clutch and flywheel. The transmission can be had with a conventional H pattern shifter for NASA's ST2 class or a sequential shifter for other classes. A 3MO full race dog shifted gear box is available as an option but not legal for all classes that the car is homologated in.
|A Borg Warner EFR turbo is standard equipment. An internal wastegate and integral compressor bypass valve keep things simple. A twin scroll exhaust housing makes the turbo spool fast for lagless power delivery.
Monday, May 07, 2012 1:20 AM
it has head lamps from a evo X, and tail lamps from a mazda 2.
Monday, May 07, 2012 2:02 AM
big willow lap time?
Monday, May 07, 2012 2:18 AM
Monday, May 07, 2012 3:33 AM
I think that thing can go around big Willow as fast as a cup Porsche with more boost and suspension setup and a driver thats used to the aero in that car.
Monday, May 07, 2012 6:21 AM
Neat car, best of luck to 999 Motorsports selling these toys. They look smartly designed and tons of fun. Do want!
Monday, May 07, 2012 8:34 AM
That's the stock LNF turbo, a BorgWarner K04. It does look very similar to the EFR!
Monday, May 07, 2012 10:17 AM
The fastest time so far is a 1:26 something set by Stu Hayner. He is a seasoned pro used to downforce cars. Dai was just as quick or quicker in about every turn except 9 where he was loosing about 2 seconds. Dai was being very careful as I cautioned him not to hurt the car one bit prior to us getting there.
Dai told me he could have gone much faster in 9 but he could not feel the limit as this is the first time he has driven a downforce car so he only went as fast as he felt was totaly safe.
The Supersport makes so much downforce, the suspension compresses about 2" at speed, you might be able to tell from some of the pictures. This is about 1200 lbs @ 100 mph.
Monday, May 07, 2012 10:21 AM
i wonder how it would compare to the D4 over at http://www.palatov.com/ both are purpose built racers with different methods of execution.
i hope we start to see more purpose built racers, lowering the cost per km (or mile for people south of the border) will bring the ceiling lower and bolster grids while providing a better entry point for younger racers with a passion for the sport.
Monday, May 07, 2012 1:17 PM
1,200 lbs of downforce on a car that only weighs 2,200 lbs? WOW.
Also, I'm insane, because I would drive that car to work every day.
Monday, May 07, 2012 1:46 PM
The car would actualy be pretty streetable, it rides smoothly and the powertrain has no more quirks than a Cobalt SS.
It's just missing side windows and a HVAC system.
Monday, May 07, 2012 2:30 PM
The cockpit looks really roomy. It looks designed for left side entrance? I bet tire wear goes up when the driver is acclimated to high G aerodynamic turns.
Monday, May 07, 2012 3:00 PM
The article said it didn't need to be heelntoe'd on downshifts. Does it have a revmatch system kinda like the 370Z or is there a different reason for that?
Monday, May 07, 2012 3:17 PM
It just doesn't seem to need it. It doesn't shift lock or anything.
Monday, May 07, 2012 3:26 PM
The Palatov is a completely different sort of car. It is more like a Radical with a space frame and a Motorcycle derived powertrain. It is small, light and way more maintenance intensive.
It looks fragile in comparison to the Supersport. It is also faster. I don't think it is currently approved for any racing class.
The Supersport is bigger, much heavier and way more rugged. It promise to be fuss free to maintain. The Supersport is homologted for two racing classes.
Monday, May 07, 2012 3:55 PM
I don't see how the d4 is more maintenance intensive, it uses a modular construction as well as having a one piece body that opens up like a clam shell and alows easy access to all componentry. Combined with using a similar willwood brake setup and full underbody areo.
I forget the calculated cost per km that was quoted, but if you venture over to www.dpcars.net the creator has put up full build logs of all of his creations which would include more information on that. I was suprised when I found out how much a cup car cost to run.
I agree that the super sport is definitly a more rugged vehicle but I think that you may have over estimated the ammound of maintenance needed on the D4.
As for the racing classes issue, in the blog the creator mentions that he is planning on getting it certified as well and with a base price in the sub 40k range it makes an easy argument for a one make series.
Monday, May 07, 2012 5:18 PM
Motorcycle based race engines wear pretty quickly and need a lot of maintenance. Radicals go as little as 5 hours on a motor maintenance cycle. A Radical engine is poked up to 1.5 liters though so it probably has pretty high piston speed.
Monday, May 07, 2012 7:13 PM
This is really cool. The proportions are a little awkward but that seems like a lot of car for the money, I can see why you're psyched about it. It does look like a breeze to work on.
What's the disconcerting noise on Dais first turn in and periodically afterwards, mic wind noise or what?
Monday, May 07, 2012 8:12 PM
I met Jackson and got to work with him briefly last year. I was told he had a passion for motorsports but this takes on a whole new meaning!
Great stuff Mike and thanks for giving the Ecotec some props. I think too many JDM fan boys just write off these fairly underrated engines.
Monday, May 07, 2012 8:33 PM
@6SPD, it's probably the front splitter scrapping making the noise.
Monday, May 07, 2012 9:28 PM
The noise is the underside of the car scraping the track. Its more the tracks fault than the car.
Monday, May 07, 2012 10:43 PM
The noise is the rear part of the sideskirt that rubs when cornering and aero loading compresses the suspension it is totaly normal.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:33 AM
This thing is pretty cool. I'd rather build my own, but everyone knows how that urge goes. Still, it's really just a good idea... seems like direct competition for that Caterham track day thing with the Ecoboost in the back.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:58 AM
Properly built track focused cars are really catching my attention lately. Something like this is squarely in the center of my nect car purchase plans. I too have been keeping a VERY close eye on Palatov Motorsports (maybe I can help facilitate a MotoIQ test of the D1 or D4 (or D2) when the time comes).
This is the first I'm reading about the 999 Motorsports offering and I love it!
While the brake and tire budges might slightly favor the Palatov cars, like Mike said the motorcycle engine in the D4 or the Hartley V8 in the D1 are going to swing things heavily in 999 Motorsports's favor. Add the cost of dealing with a motorcycle chain (two in the AWD versions) to the Palatov stuff and it seems like a no-brainer. However the price of the D4 in RWD trim is slated to undercut the 999 Motorsport offering by something like $25k which is nothing to ignore.
The plans for the folding trailer which would allow easy towing by even A-segment hatchbacks and the fact that you may be able to store a Palatov car and trailer in your garage taking up no more footprint than a row of high school lockers might make up for what it lacks in engine/chain longevity. Maybe...
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 10:34 AM
i don't think it is a no brainer at all, what i do think is it is prime for a side by side comparison.
i agree the Hartley V8 is a big detractor for the D1, but i think the goal of the D1 was to go GT3 trolling on track days. Who wouldn't want to walk by a cup car in one of those tiny little things.
As for the regular motorcycle engine in the D4, as was proven in the blog at dpcars.net it would not cost that much to source one, even if you had to source the whole bike and then part it out on kijiji or ebay. yes it is more effort and may detract some, to some gear heads out there is it par for the course. i have bought several vehicles for one major key component and parted out the rest.
maybe MotoIQ could do a side by side comparison of various purpose built track day specials. id like to see the Supersport, one of the Palatov cars, a lotus seven based racer as well as maybe even a GT3 Cup car. and not just comparisons based on performance but compare them all based on costs, support requirements, storage etc.
i am certain from the comments and articles that i have read on this site that there are more than quite a few gentlemen racers (in my books that is anyone that isn't paid to race) with the purchasing power to afford a dedicated track day vehicle.
Friday, May 25, 2012 12:42 PM
We'd love to participate in a trackday car comparison, or just a normal test. The 999 car looks like it would be a fun one to chase! It's great to see the dedicated trackday genre expanding.
FWIW the D4 is already faster than a GT3 Cup - same driver (BJ Zacharias), same track, same day - just check out our blogs on www.dpcars.net/dp4/. With 24 full trackdays so far (almost 5,000 track miles) we haven't had any engine issues yet. The car has been offroaded more than once and drove to the pits every time. It's more robust than it looks! The D1 is in a whole different league entirely. The Hartley engine is amazing and it's very easy to drive for something with 1,000 hp/ton. Don't judge bike and bike-based engine reliability by what Radical/Powertec are doing.
Until July 8 all our efforts are on our Pikes Peak quest (www.palatov.com/pikespeak/) but after that we're open for tests, comparisons, etc. I don't know if we'll be able to do the Ultimate Track Car Challenge due to logistics (too soon after Pikes Peak and on the opposite coast from us) but we're considering it.
Friday, May 25, 2012 1:02 PM
I am pretty sure the Palatov car would be faster but the 999 car is designed for low operating costs and ease of servive first.
It would awesome to see the differences between this motor and the radical which is so so on robustness.
Dennis we would love to take a closer look at your car. We love the idea of affordable purpose built race cars!
Please get back to us after Pikes Peak!
Friday, May 25, 2012 3:16 PM
Mike, we've found that with downforce cars like the 999 and ours the driver makes the biggest difference in how fast the car is. It takes a while to recalibrate yourself to the corner entry speeds that the car is capable of, and some people (myself for example) never get to 100% but can still have lots of fun at 80% and still blow away all the 'normal' cars :)
So when a couple cars like our show up at an event it isn't obvious which is going to be the fastest - driver makes all the difference. Which is part of the fun!
It's interesting to see different approaches to what constitutes a 'perfect' track car and i'm glad that some good choices are becoming available to enthusiasts. The important thing is there is growing recognition that a dedicated track car ultimately makes sense. This is something that I've learned as I went though the whole 'track driver evolution' and that's why I designed the D4.
We'll be in touch after the race. Drop me an email when you have a chance so I have a direct contact.
Friday, May 25, 2012 4:49 PM
Wow, i actually didnt expect you to post Dennis, I have been following your blog off and on from before you opened up the company and the D1 was the only one on your design table. I just wanted to say cheers for doing what you love to do and sticking with it.
I look forward to reading the opinions from the MotoIQ team, I think that they might be rather suprised regarding the operating costs and the ease of service. Well atleast based on what i have seen from the development blog.
Bring on a head to head comparison covering all aspects of the trackday special! let us not jump to any conclusions until a proper comparison with all the factors can be conducted.
Friday, May 25, 2012 6:43 PM
Dennis I think you have my work email now so lets get together when we are little less busy. We are really interested in your car as well.
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