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Discussion Starter #1
I've been running in DS all year, but I think next year I might do a couple of small mods and move up to STU or something. As far as suspension goes, what should I do spending about $500? Should I do a rear sway bar and maybe some springs and shocks? I don't want to really decrease the daily drivability of the car either. I was also considering the engine mount among other mods such as throwing a CAI on (but that is a different subject). I am really leaning towards the rear sway as a first suspension mod, but that install seems pretty involved. Any suggestions? If I do a rear sway, will that give me a larger performance boost for AutoX over new springs and possibly Koni's.
 

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I've been running in DS all year, but I think next year I might do a couple of small mods and move up to STU or something. As far as suspension goes, what should I do spending about $500? Should I do a rear sway bar and maybe some springs and shocks? I don't want to really decrease the daily drivability of the car either. I was also considering the engine mount among other mods such as throwing a CAI on (but that is a different subject). I am really leaning towards the rear sway as a first suspension mod, but that install seems pretty involved. Any suggestions? If I do a rear sway, will that give me a larger performance boost for AutoX over new springs and possibly Koni's.
[/b]
The rear sway bar is the first mod. I will be doing to the suspension. Because of the bang for the buck standpoint and plain common sense, I chose this before even looking at springs. I've just about written off bracing for now. From what I've seen, the OEM rear and front strut bracing is not a big week point and would get a minimal return on my money. I plan on going towards a spring/shock combo as finances allow.

I'm sure someone that has done some suspension mods will chime in too.

Wayne
 

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AutoEXE springs felt great...
Whiteline Rear Sway bar felt better...
235/40 18x8's felt the best...

I confirmed last night that we are going to have to have a new front sway bar made, as the existing bars won't work...

Next stuff for me...

Front Sway Bar (Talking to Whiteline already....)
Shocks (I don't like the Koni's as they require dismantiling OEM equipment)...
Bracing and some LSD work (Not going to elaborate..)
 

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Unless you have racing compound tires, you should race in STU even if your car is stock. You'll be more competitive there on account of the other cars having street tires.

You'll definately want to ditch the stock wheels when it comes time to put competitive rubber on the car. 245/40/17, 235/40/18, or 235/45/17 tires are going to be appropriate- find a tire with a high load rating and heat tolerance because your heavy car is going to heat the front tires pretty easily. You'll need an 8" or wider wheel to run those tire sizes.

There doesn't appear to be much you can do to drastically improve the suspension of your car- just little bits and pieces. If you're willing to spend the money, I'd recommend either HKS coilovers or Koni's with RPM's forthcoming spring set. Coilovers really are best because they come with shortened shocks that retain suspension travel despite lowering the car, but Koni's with springs will get you darn close for less money. The rear HKS dampers are the only design that can be easily adjusted without unmounting a shock.

You might consider getting polyurethane sway bar bushings front and rear before upgrading your sway bars- since the aftermarket bars aren't that much bigger than stock, I bet mere bushings will give you half the improvement with no installation hassle. Larger sways almost always help for autocross but the current sizes available are not much larger than stock, so it's a question of how much you want that improvement. The RB bars for a standard Mazda6 were easily the best upgrade for that car, but don't expect the same tremendous improvement.

Your biggest problem will be the lack of camber up front, but I think RPM has something in the works to fix that too. If camber adjustment is ever released for this car, it will probably be the single best autocross upgrade for it.

None of these upgrades are extreme or will ruin the 6's daily drivability. Obviously some will make the car a little firmer but not in a harsh way. A good autocross suspension (even an aggressive one) does not make a car harsh- it has to absorb bumps to do its job. The worst thing you can do to your car is put on lowering springs that lower too far or buy a cheap set of shocks/coilovers. That's where harshness comes from.

Whatever you do, do things one at a time so you can evaluate how you want to change the car next. Learn how each part has changed the car and never ever follow someone else's opinion on what makes a car better (not even mine). As always, if you aren't a great driver, learn to drive first. If you're new to autocross, keep the car close to stock. I know that's not what you want to hear, but seriously- just concentrate on the driving.
 

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Unless you have racing compound tires, you should race in STU even if your car is stock. You'll be more competitive there on account of the other cars have similar rubber.

You'll definately want to ditch the stock wheels when it comes time to put competitive rubber on the car. 245/40/17, 235/40/18, or 235/45/17 tires are going to be appropriate- find a tire with a high load rating and heat tolerance because your heavy car is going to heat the front tires pretty easily. You'll need an 8" or wider wheel to run those tire sizes.

There doesn't appear to be much you can do to drastically improve the suspension of your car- just little bits and pieces. If you're willing to spend the money, I'd recommend either HKS coilovers or Koni's with RPM's forthcoming spring set. Coilovers really are best because they come with shortened shocks that retain suspension travel despite lowering the car, but Koni's with springs will get you darn close for less money. The rear HKS dampers are the only design that can be easily adjusted without unmounting a shock.

You might consider getting polyurethane sway bar bushings front and rear before upgrading your sway bars- since the aftermarket bars aren't that much bigger than stock, I bet mere bushings will give you half the improvement with no installation hassle. Larger sways almost always help for autocross but the current sizes available are not much larger than stock, so it's a question of how much you want that improvement. The RB bars for a standard Mazda6 were easily the best upgrade for that car, but don't expect the same tremendous improvement.

Your biggest problem will be the lack of camber up front, but I think RPM has something in the works to fix that too. If camber adjustment is ever released for this car, it will probably be the single best autocross upgrade for it.

None of these upgrades are extreme or will ruin the 6's daily drivability. Obviously some will make the car a little firmer but not in a harsh way. A good autocross suspension (even an aggressive one) does not make a car harsh- it has to absorb bumps to do its job. The worst thing you can do to your car is put on lowering springs that lower too far or buy a cheap set of shocks/coilovers. That's where harshness comes from.

Whatever you do, do things one at a time so you can evaluate how you want to change the car next. Learn how each part has changed the car and never ever follow someone else's opinion on what makes a car better (not even mine). As always, if you aren't a great driver, learn to drive first. If you're new to autocross, keep the car close to stock. I know that's not what you want to hear, but seriously- just concentrate on the driving.
[/b]

What kind of camber adjustment will be offered.....adjustable arms?

Wayne
 

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AutoEXE springs felt great...
Whiteline Rear Sway bar felt better...
235/40 18x8's felt the best...

I confirmed last night that we are going to have to have a new front sway bar made, as the existing bars won't work...

Next stuff for me...

Front Sway Bar (Talking to Whiteline already....)
Shocks (I don't like the Koni's as they require dismantiling OEM equipment)...
Bracing and some LSD work (Not going to elaborate..)
[/b]

Any idea on specs or time schedule for the front bar?

Also, are you running the AutoEXE's with stock shocks right now?

Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One of the upgrades I didn't mention but will be done once I burn up my current AutoX tires is to put some Falken Azenis on. As of right now I will be putting on 225/45/18 as I will be using a set of stock Speed6 wheels. Not ideal, but I don't want to invest too much money into what is basically a recreational hobby. So bushings rather than a bar installation seems like a good idea.
 

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^^Great write up Stretch. Your posts are very informative, thanks.
 

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I agree with stretch that the single most important, and currently lacking mod, for these cars is front camber adjustment. As soon as someone comes out with a solution, I'm a buyer at almost any price.

As far as how to invest your money, don't bother with anything on the suspension until you deal with the rubber. I'm running the Falkens for autocross and they do reasonably well for the first 2-3 laps, but it would be nice to have something that deals with the heat better. With the front-end weight and the scrub from the near zero camber, the outside front tire turns into a furnace pretty quickly. I have two sets of wheels and tires, so right now, I'm regretting not getting a better tire than the Falkens, but it's nice knowing I can drive around for days with them on and not really worry about excessive wear. They actually seem to be wearing better than the less grippy stock Bridgestones while always yielding better handling performance. The only downside for the Falkens for daily driving is that they are a little stiffer in the sidewall and therefore the ride is affected.

Due to the various mods on my car, I bounced between DSP and STU. I raced DS only once, right after I got the car. The competition was steeper in my region in STU, DSP was usually a wasteland. That said, with the set-up I had, i faired reasonably well, winning three events out of 5 entered.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I ran DS this weekend and got first out of four, but never had a good run. The other three cars we're all newcomers, so first wasn't an accomplishment. The STU class which I will be joining here shortly had 15 cars running... all Subaru's and that class has some of the top times for the day. It's going to be rough, especially while I finish off what's left of my current tires. I'll hopefully work on my driving while using up what's left of my current rubber. The outside tread of all four of my tires at this point are cracking and burning pretty good.
 

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Unless you have racing compound tires, you should race in STU even if your car is stock. You'll be more competitive there on account of the other cars having street tires.

You'll definately want to ditch the stock wheels when it comes time to put competitive rubber on the car. 245/40/17, 235/40/18, or 235/45/17 tires are going to be appropriate- find a tire with a high load rating and heat tolerance because your heavy car is going to heat the front tires pretty easily. You'll need an 8" or wider wheel to run those tire sizes.

There doesn't appear to be much you can do to drastically improve the suspension of your car- just little bits and pieces. If you're willing to spend the money, I'd recommend either HKS coilovers or Koni's with RPM's forthcoming spring set. Coilovers really are best because they come with shortened shocks that retain suspension travel despite lowering the car, but Koni's with springs will get you darn close for less money. The rear HKS dampers are the only design that can be easily adjusted without unmounting a shock.

You might consider getting polyurethane sway bar bushings front and rear before upgrading your sway bars- since the aftermarket bars aren't that much bigger than stock, I bet mere bushings will give you half the improvement with no installation hassle. Larger sways almost always help for autocross but the current sizes available are not much larger than stock, so it's a question of how much you want that improvement. The RB bars for a standard Mazda6 were easily the best upgrade for that car, but don't expect the same tremendous improvement.

Your biggest problem will be the lack of camber up front, but I think RPM has something in the works to fix that too. If camber adjustment is ever released for this car, it will probably be the single best autocross upgrade for it.

None of these upgrades are extreme or will ruin the 6's daily drivability. Obviously some will make the car a little firmer but not in a harsh way. A good autocross suspension (even an aggressive one) does not make a car harsh- it has to absorb bumps to do its job. The worst thing you can do to your car is put on lowering springs that lower too far or buy a cheap set of shocks/coilovers. That's where harshness comes from.

Whatever you do, do things one at a time so you can evaluate how you want to change the car next. Learn how each part has changed the car and never ever follow someone else's opinion on what makes a car better (not even mine). As always, if you aren't a great driver, learn to drive first. If you're new to autocross, keep the car close to stock. I know that's not what you want to hear, but seriously- just concentrate on the driving.
[/b]

Where can I get new bushings for the front stock sway bar?

Wayne
 

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The biggest improvement you can make is the driver. Not saying you're a bad driver, but there's always something to learn. The whole slow down to go faster thing is counterintuitive and has to be learned, but it really works. If you can find an autocross class offered by the local SCCA chapter, do that. It will be worth every penny.

For the car: Its been a while, but I used to autocross a Mustang Cobra from 1997-2000. Granted, that was a little different than the 6, but it was also heavy and tended toward understeer. Also, I spent a huge amount of time when I started out just talking to the guys who'd been doing it for years. They generally all said the same things and I found their advice to be right on. And one of the courses I ran at was always set up the same due to site limitations, so you could really see what you got out of each mod. Here's what worked:

(As you probably already know, for a car like this, power mods are mostly a waste for autocross.)

Rubber first. Once you have good rubber, you'll really know the limits of the suspension. R compound tires will make you feel superhuman. Going from very good street rubber to R compound rubber of the same size (one slightly lighter wheels) dropped my times from the 96+ second range to about 92 seconds flat. Going with a wider R conpound tire (275/40 vs 245/45) netted another second.

Better brakes. Some slightly more aggressive brake pads, in this case Performance Friction Cabon Metallics got me another few tenths for short money.

As has been mentioned, a more aggressive alignment would be the next biggest bang for the buck without a doubt. I didn't do bushings on my car, but they'd probably slot in right about here. Then, good shocks are probably more worthwhile (albeit more expensive) than stiffer springs. If you don't want your springs to ruin your ride quality, keep an eye on the rates of the rear springs. If those stiffen up, your car will be very jittery on the street. In my case, the rear rates for my aftermarket springs stayed about the same, but I bumped the front rates from 500 to 800 pounds and added Koni adjustables. They only lowered the car a modest amount (3/4" I think) so as not to throw off the suspension geometry. This last group of mods was done all together (springs, shocks, alignment), and was worth about another 1.5-2 seconds due to the law of diminishing returns for mods :)
 
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I've been running in DS all year, but I think next year I might do a couple of small mods and move up to STU or something. As far as suspension goes, what should I do spending about $500? Should I do a rear sway bar and maybe some springs and shocks? I don't want to really decrease the daily drivability of the car either. I was also considering the engine mount among other mods such as throwing a CAI on (but that is a different subject). I am really leaning towards the rear sway as a first suspension mod, but that install seems pretty involved. Any suggestions? If I do a rear sway, will that give me a larger performance boost for AutoX over new springs and possibly Koni's.[/b]
Did you ever uprgade to the 225/45-18 Azenis tires? If so, how's the fit and performance?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Not yet, but when I do I'll give my impressions. Probably will be a few months before I finish off the Potenzas.
 
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Not yet, but when I do I'll give my impressions. Probably will be a few months before I finish off the Potenzas.[/b]
I ran my first autox in the MS6 this past weekend. Actually, it was a "practice" event which equated to ten runs. This was a great opportunity to get used to the car and find an optimum tire pressure set up. The car is in stock trim with a K&N panel air filter as the lone modification.

I had a set of Falken Azenis (225/45-18) mounted on the boat anchor OEM rims. This tire rim combo is 49 lbs. The trunk was empty, no floor mats and half a tank of fuel (91 octane). The car weighs 3450 lbs in this trim.

There was a very short interval between runs and the ambient temp was close to 80 deg. I started with 40 psi on all corners.
The left front got to 45 psi and 165 deg F surface temp within three runs. I dropped the pressure to 44 psi and kept a close eye on the temps and pressures. This was a CW course about 9/10ths - 1 mile in length. The grip was consistent and I dropped my run times in all but the last (tenth) run.

From what I can gather the leading car in the class (SCCA D-Stock) is the Integra Type R. There was one at the event. For what it is worth my times were very close to the Integra. Granted, only one data point, but nothing else to compare to.

My impressions:
I am accustomed to driving a Miata both autocross and road racing. At this event in the MS6 I turned times within the range of the guys in Miatas whom I normally compete against. I'm not used to driving FWD much less AWD. I was very impressed with the cars handling and braking. I have used Azenis tires only once before and that was on a Miata at a trackday. I was surpsied then at how well they perform. I am equally impressed with their performance on the MS6.

I read a post from Grantsfo in February, "Biggest trick in driving MS6 is driving it like a front wheel drive car in AX. Make sure DSC is swtched off and dump the car into corners and then go with blasts of full power. You will be suprized by the car occasionally power oversteering which is a good thing when your trying to get it through tighter slow corners." I must say I find this to be right on the money. I was surprised to find that I could get the car to rotate using the throttle a la RWD.

I plan to compete in the upcoming SCCA National Tour event. That should give me a better idea of where I stand both in set up and my own ability in this car.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So I'm going to get some new wheels and tires for AutoX pretty soon, before the National Tour gets into town in May. I was looking at Falken Hanabi wheels in either 17x7.5/5x114.3/42 or 18x8.5/5x114.3/45. http://www.edgeracing.com/wheels/falken_wheel/ Would I be better off getting the 17's or 18's? Also, I am looking at both the Falken Azenis and the Hankook Ventus Rs2 in the 225/45/17 or 18. http://www.edgeracing.com/tires/2254517/

Any opinions on the best set-up would be appreciated. If I could run a 235 tire, that would be great, but I assume I would need a 18x8 wheel to do that effectively. Thanks for your help!
 

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So I'm going to get some new wheels and tires for AutoX pretty soon, before the National Tour gets into town in May. I was looking at Falken Hanabi wheels in either 17x7.5/5x114.3/42 or 18x8.5/5x114.3/45. http://www.edgeracing.com/wheels/falken_wheel/ Would I be better off getting the 17's or 18's? Also, I am looking at both the Falken Azenis and the Hankook Ventus Rs2 in the 225/45/17 or 18. http://www.edgeracing.com/tires/2254517/

Any opinions on the best set-up would be appreciated. If I could run a 235 tire, that would be great, but I assume I would need a 18x8 wheel to do that effectively. Thanks for your help![/b]

+1 on the Rs2's. They have great heat resistance. I have a set for the MX5, you really can't overheat them on that car. They should fair better on the Speed6 than the Falkens.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's good to hear. They are also a little cheaper and lighter.
 

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I agree with stretch that the single most important, and currently lacking mod, for these cars is front camber adjustment. As soon as someone comes out with a solution, I'm a buyer at almost any price.[/b]
Look here, there is a solution:

http://forum.mazda6club.com/index.php?showtopic=72075

I was going to get them before the track in a few weeks but the advice I've been hearing to to wait until I lower the car. Not only will it look weird with -1.5 front at the stock ride height, the performace gains will not be as good as it will be once the car is lowered and you can crank like -3 on the fronts :)
 
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