AMS/NOS Energy Drink Hill Climb EVO takes 1st in class at Land’s End Hill Climb

Anxious to bounce back from Pikes Peak, after a few days rest, I set out to change the NOS Energy Drink / AMS Performance Hillclimb Evo back to rally trim. The DHP splitter was removed in favor of a heavy 1/4″ aluminum skid plate, Seibon Carbon fenders came off for the OEM metal ones, and the OEM Brembos were removed for the AMS rally brake kit so we could fit 15″ wheels back on the car.

Pleased with the power delivery of our setup at 9,000-14,000 feet, I figured since we were racing at even lower altitudes, lag would be even less of an issue. I looked at some on-board footage of the car, and it was very clear that the Forced Performance HTA35R turbo gave us a much wider powerband than the TR30R. Martin sent me an updated map with revised boost control settings so I wouldn’t overboost, and with the narrower tires, we figured a conservative 28psi would do the trick. The big question in my mind was, how much power is too much?

Friday afternoon we had our car on display with several other Colorado Rally Cup competitors at the Subaru Dealership in Grand Junction. The guys from NOS Energy Drink in Denver hooked us up with a cases & cases of NOS to keep people cool.

The forecast for the weekend was hot hot hot, with temps in the mid 90s both days. As some of you may remember from our PPIHC writeups, we are currently running a CBRD slim radiator, which works well, but wasn’t designed with long distance racing in mind. I spent several hours revamping the ducting for the radiator and IC in hopes that we might stave off overheating issues.

For our first run I decided to try out a set of Hankook rally tires that were designed for abrasive gravel. The road looked to be really fast, but the tires just didn’t hook the way I was hoping they would. Knowing that the conditions usually change drastically as loose crap is flung off the racing line, I figured I’d give the tires one more shot. We ended up running a 5:07.47, which put us in the top qualifier spot with a margin of over ~11 seconds. Still unsure of the tires, I decided to try out the Kumho rain tires we used at Pikes Peak. Running these tires carried a big risk, as we’d be running 17″ wheels with low profile tires on a road strewn with rocks. Unfortunately, delays were the theme of the day, with many people having issues on course, which unfortunately held the rally classes to just two practice runs.

After racing concluded on Saturday, we sat around trying to decide what tires to run on Sunday. We had packed an amazing amount of rubber into our truck for the weekend:

4 Hankook 204
4 Yokohama A036
4 BFGoodrich Rally Tires
6 Kumho W710

The lazy in me decided that since we had two runs on race day, we should just stick with the Kumho rains that we had wanted to try on practice day. This carried a big risk of getting a flat, so I had to adjust my driving style considerably. Gone were the big sideways slides, and I was keeping an eye out for rocks. The grip we found with these tires was better, but I could feel the time ticking away in my head as we rounded many of the hairpin turns, and cornes with nice ditches. By the time we reached the top the temp needle was just under the high limit on the factory gauge, but with water sprayers, temps came down nice and quick.

After returning to the pits, I did a quick inspection of the wheels & tires, and found that the tread was nearly gone on both rear tires, a sidewall had a flap in it, one rim had a 4″ crack in the lip, and a dime sized gouge was in another. No way I’d risk driving on these again. We had run a 5:02.98, upping our lead over 2nd place to ~12 seconds.

So, it was back to tire decision time again, and this time my choices were down to the Hankooks or the Yokohamas. Since I didn’t get a practice run on the Yokos, I went back to the ‘kooks. At the startline we decided it was time to go for it, knowing that our record from last year was still 10 seconds below the time we had just run. I planned to get into the ditches and drive aggressively like we did when we set the record in 2008. Off the startline we got moving quickly, and jumped into the ditch to get the extra hook around the corner, then really started picking up speed on the next sweeper. Unfortunately, with the extra cornering speed came the need for extra braking zone and I simply didn’t get on the binders soon enough.

At my first press of the brakes, the tires just skidded, so I started to look for options. If I attempted the corner and didn’t make it, we’d head into a ditch sideways, likely causing a partial rollover. If I straightened it out, we’d go into the ditch straight on. I chose the safer route, straightened the car out and went for another press of the brakes. By the time we left the road we were probably only going 10-15mph. After the hit, the car was still running so I backed up onto the road and headed up to the next corner. I gave it some gas, but it was clear we had mangled an IC pipe, so I pulled off in a safe spot.

So, to wrap up, it was a good weekend in that we walked away with a class win, but also a bit of a dissappointment as we were unable to break a record. I’ll try to get pics up over the next couple of days, and should have some video to post as well.

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