2018-05-30 19:31:21 UTC
I know that there are people eager for news of my new RF98, so I thought
I'd provide an update.
Yesterday, in return for offering road racing instruction to novice
trackday participants, I ran my Van Diemen RF98 Honda during the lunch
break at Mission Raceway Park. I thought it would be better to discover
any issues with the car three and a half weeks before the next race,
rather than discover them during the practice session Saturday morning
with the need to have them resolved before qualifying just 115 minutes
So after going through the car's systems, fixing a few minor issues
(such as a little extra slop in the gear linkage cured by adding more
appropriate, shanked bolts and proper saddle washers), completely
replacing the brake and clutch fluid, flushing and replacing the
coolant, we packed up the car for an initial shakedown run.
With only 20 minutes running time, this wasn't a session for trying
changes to the car; just a chance to find any problems with time to
resolve them before the first race.
Only... ...there weren't any problems! The car was exactly as
advertised. OK... ...there was a tiny amount lateral instability at top
speed which is probably just a fresh alignment away from correction, and
the shop which installed the new engine before the car was sold to me
definitely put in too heavy a weight engine oil, but we took care of
that before we'd even finished unpacking the trailer back at the garage.
Oh! There was one Dzus fastener that had been replaced with one that
wasn't the proper length, so we had to temporarily tape that panel into
However, I would run the car without hesitation as it sits in the garage
right now. I have good information from an experience prep shop for
starting settings for spring rates, anti-roll bars, ride heights, camber
and caster, and the car will be taken to a specialty shop to get its
first alignment; mostly because I need to fabricate a few things before
I can do an alignment myself (new brackets for the alignment bars, most
And... ...it feels fast.
One area where the Honda-engined cars differ from the Kents is that the
Honda has a rev limiter which cuts in at 6750 rpm whereas most Kents are
run without a rev limiter. So when selecting a top gear, Honda cars must
choose a ratio which will keep the car below the rev limiter in every
conceivable situation, while the Kent-engined FFs can choose a slightly
shorter ratio, knowing that if they do happen to get a good "tow" down
the longest straight, they can allow the engine to rev past the optimum
for short lengths of time. This is one of the reasons that Kents have a
small advantage at tracks with long straights (along with slightly
greater top-end power).
But even having to choose that slightly taller gear, and even before
trying to put together a full-on lap, I was seeing speeds very near the
rev limit before braking for turn one.
If I'm in town to enjoy it, I think the rest of the racing season could
be a lot of fun!
Here's a quick video: