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I'd like to see how this car does in the "C Street" class in SCCA - which means a few things. 1) It's in direct competition with the ND Miata - fun comparison opportunity. 2) I can only change a few very specific things - basically dampers, one sway bar, post-cat exhaust, tires, wheels (+1" wider).

I think the Abarth has some advantages, and some disadvangates:

Advantages
  • Lots of torque, with even more available with legal exhaust mods
  • Big rear sway bar, compared to the ND

Disadvantages
  • Heavier by over 100 pounds
  • Lower top speed in second gear (~57 MPH)

Seems like a fair fight - and the winning car could be course-dependant.

Full disclosure: I used to be a half-decent autocrosser. 10 years ago. Then I started focusing on track events on my bikes, and in cars, and I lost the autocrossing bug. Those of you that autocross know that it ain't like riding a bike. So, if I do indeed continue, I will be building my skills back, as I build out the car as well. Not the world's most scientific comparison. We'll see how it goes.

Event 1 wrapup

After putting 1,200 miles on my new 124 Abarth in the first two weeks of ownership, I figured I knew it well enough to bring it to an event and see what it really feels like.

In the name of science (okay, really because I haven't had time to make any changes to the car whatsoever!) I brought the car out BONE stock. Stock tires, factory alignment... Heck, it even still has the original oil in it. I didn't expect to do well. **Spoiler alert: My expectations were correct.**

The course was a series of offsets, with three 180 degree sweepers linking them together. Pretty basic stuff. Not a lot of cone-age throughout the day. The course rewarded clean lines through the offsets, and patience through the sweepers.

I was 4.5 seconds off the class winner, on a short course (~40 seconds). That's pretty terrible.

BUT!

The car is definitely excellent - even as stock.


The tires: Despite low levels of grip everywhere, they were still balanced, and really predictable. Easily broken loose, but also easily caught. Lots of fun, but slow.

The brakes: Stock pads. Never thought about them. That's the best compliment I can pay! They were excellent, and easily got into ABS, which means no additional power is required.

The suspension:
Leany, but controlled. Rewards slow inputs, as the car will heel over quickly, even with the Bilstein dampers, but with slow input, and judicious steering input, the car was utterly controllable.

The power: The torque is very nice. Had to work to modulate the throttle in first gear to prevent spinning up both rears (Hooray for LSD) through the entire gear range. Second gear was also able to break the rear loose with nearly any amount of steering lock dialed in. With better tires, full power will likely be simpler to apply.

The setup: The car seems set up to understeer at the limit (Could be a weird alignment - or could be US-spec). I struggled to enter sweepers slow enough to avoid some initial understeer, but even when I got the entrances right, the car would push at maintenance throttle. I imagine there is some negative camber I can scare up with the stock adjustment, as well as perhaps some toe-out in the front that might cure this. Makes me worry that a bigger front bar will make the car really pushy.​

There were only 2 NDs in my class at this off-season event. One was 3.7 seconds ahead of me. The other was 1 second behind me.

The ND ahead of me was on real tires (RE-71R) which could be ~1.5 seconds of advantage on this concrete surface. It also had a good alignment, with maximum negative camber up front, and was also well driven, of course. I think it's also got a front sway bar on it - not sure.

The ND behind me was also bone stock to the best of my knowledge. Not sure whether or not it had a limited slip diff.

I think this car has real potential... If I remember how to drive it!
 

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Interesting and well written. Thanks and good racing!
 

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Interesting and well written. Thanks and good racing!
Stelvio I hear you were already bored with the euro drive lite.>:)>:)>:)
 

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Great post Hwy84. That was a very good description of the event. It sounds to me like it went pretty well for a first outing in a dead stock car.

Greg
 

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Excellent post!! And I appreciate the level of detail.
 

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It sounds like you had fun!
As a former autocrosser, and Miata owner, I recommend an alignment before the next event. You can read some very good advice in the Miata forum, especially lots of history in the NB section. I know we're more like an ND, but the discussions about various settings are very extensive.
Brian Goodwin is autocrossing a 124 and has plenty of experience and good advice.
Good luck!
 

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Stelvio I hear you were already bored with the euro drive lite.>:)>:)>:)
Nothing that another 20 lbs of boost couldn't cure. Now that my Christmas present is out of the way, can my birthday be far behind?
 

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It sounds like you had fun!
As a former autocrosser, and Miata owner, I recommend an alignment before the next event. You can read some very good advice in the Miata forum, especially lots of history in the NB section. I know we're more like an ND, but the discussions about various settings are very extensive.
Brian Goodwin is autocrossing a 124 and has plenty of experience and good advice.
Good luck!
Does anyone know what the factory alignment figures are? And how much change/ improvement can you expect from an alignment for autocross?
 
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