Prototypes, R & D, and the New MX-5: A Day at the Track

I bet you know this already, but we’re very excited about the new Mazda MX-5 and really, what’s not to be excited about! The ND MX-5 is sleek, sexy, efficient, modern, and an absolute blast through the apex.

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Here at the CorkSport HQ, we’ve been working on a handful of awesome products and even had our first prototypes before we even had the car to test them on. But the wait is over. With prototypes in one hand and keys in the other, there was only one thing needed….Portland International Raceway. Oh, and for good measure we brought in Kenton Koch, of Kenton Koch Racing, to put our MX-5 and prototypes through their paces. Here’s how the day went.

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The morning was a cool 55 degrees, but the CS team was buzzing with excitement. First session of the day was about to start, so Kenton was sent out with OEM springs and the CS front and rear swaybars in their softest setting. A couple laps later, Kenton came to the pits with concern for the rear suspension. Too our surprise, the coins of the RSB had bent, rendering the RSB useless. This was a real bummer, but a failed part in testing is a great day for warranty. Luckily, we were able to set the RSB to the stiffest setting to continue testing. Back to the track he went.

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Kenton was able to finish the session without issue and returned to the pits with more feedback than we could absorb. He loved the car, but the springs were just too soft and the FSB needed a stiffer setting. Great! This is exactly the feedback we wanted to hear! For the next session, Kenton went out in an employee’s club edition to get a baseline feel of the OEM swaybars. In the meantime, the CS team swapped the springs out with our 35% stiffer springs.

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Session three: launch edition MX-5 with 35% stiffer springs and the swaybars on the stiffest settings. Kenton came into the pits around the halfway mark and requested we move the FSB back to the softest setting. The session ended and Kenton returned to the pits with even more feedback! In the first half of the session, he was fighting a lot of understeer which is what merited the FSB adjustment. In the second half of the session, the understeer was much improved, but was still the most prevalent driving characteristic. We had another set of springs that were only 20% stiffer, so we installed them in the front and sent him out for the next session.

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This was the ticket! Kenton stayed on track for the whole session this time. He was very happy with the car’s balance and had complete control of understeer/oversteer with just a small amount of throttle modulation. This was great news! For the final session, we adjusted the FSB back to the stiffest setting. This would tell us if the swaybars were a good compliment to the springs. Another session went by and again Kenton was very happy. The stiffer setting on the FSB pushed the car’s balance a little more towards understeer. This is great because understeer is typically much easier and safer for a novice driver to control, but the FSB also had the adjustability to put the car at a balanced state. More experienced drivers will appreciate this.

We wrapped up the day extremely satisfied with our results. We had a failure, we had many successes, and we learned a lot about the new MX-5. We can confidently say that the CorkSport MX-5 components are track tested and designed with the customer in mind. Look for swaybars, springs, and endlinks in the near future!

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Barett Strecker-01

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