Yet another cold day at Oulton Park but nothing like as fridged as the tyre test back in November for MRF of the new ZTRr. Once again we were product testing. This time for suspension bush experts, SuperPro Europe, Who have made dedicated Mazda2 suspension arms with uprated bushes and a set of rear Axel bushes.
The new bush kit is designed for fast road and track use, which keeps with the 2RacingUK philosophy of proving you can go a long way in racing with road-friendly parts
The aim of the upgraded bushes is to remove the slop designed into the OEM suspension. The Slop makes for a quiet, smooth and comfortable ride but slows the steering response and numbs the feel and communication the driver receives via the chassis.
Fitting would have been a doddle had it not been for a couple of rusted front suspension bolts and two original rear axle bushes that didn't want their time in the car to come to an end. One of the front bolts eventually cooperated after copious amounts of penetrating fluid had been applied. The second bolt creating issues was the right side ball joint pinch bolt which just didn't want to play ball. Pardon the pun. Eventually, I ran out of patients and attacked it with a grinder followed by my favorite hammer. One new pinch bolt later and all was done at the front. The new arms are a perfect fit, making it a case of removing three bolts, pulling the old arms out, pushing the new arms in and securing with the three bolts you removed no more than five minutes ago. The front left needed a grand total of 20mins from jacking the car up on axle stands to finish.
The rear bushes were harder than the front. To get the old bush out I had to resort to cutting the centre cylinder out of the OEM bush, then using a chisel and hammer to remove the outer steel sleeve. A task that should have taken ten mins ended up taking nearly two days in the cold, rain and dark of a January evening. The replacement was easier but not without its issues which consisted mainly of me having a hard time with the grease and pressing the bush into the axel by hand. I hate having sticky hands. I mean I really really hate it. I would normally use gloves but the grease and rain made it impossible to grip anything.
The rear bush supplied by SuperPro is a half and half bush. You simply push each half into the axel and then press the center cylinder in before lifting the axel back into its chassis bracket and bolt it back together. The whole job can be done without having to remove the axel been from the car if done one side at a time.
At Oulton Park, we were joined by Colin from superPro. I could give you Colin's formal title of area manager but in reality, all you need to know is Colin is the man to know at SuperPro. He has great experience and knowledge about car setups that he is eager to share. He;s also a true petrol head which makes him fun to chat with.
In addition to Colin, we also invited Mazda2 enthusiast Elliot along for his first proper outing on track. Potentially we spoilt him as Oulton is a hard track to surpass.
The track temperature was barely above three degrees when the circuit opened for the first laps of the day. We opted to run our wet weather tire (Avon ZV7) as it was doubtful that we could work enough heat into the compound of the MRFs to generate any grip from them. We did try later in the day and colin valiantly spun the car at old hall just so that we knew there wasn't much grip out there.
We also chose to run what-is for us an aggressive geometry. The front suspension was set up with just 1.5 degrees of negative camber and zero toe. On the rear, we ran 3.5 degrees of negative camber. Obviously, with the mazda2 having a rear beam it's not possible to alter the rear tow from that set by the factory. This gave the car a very stable rear allowing us to pitch it into a corner at speed on the brakes and get straight back onto the throttle as the rear yawed around the centerline. In doing this we could carry brilliant apex speed giving us the best possible exit onto each of the straights at Oulton.
To further add to this handling choice we elected to soften the damping of our Koni kit by one full turn at the front and leave the rear as we would use it in the dry of a warm day in summer. Side note for another article. The kit Koni has made bespoke for us is absolutely epic.
Colin drove first while I rode passenger. Colin has a style of driving that is exceedingly sympathetic to the car's mechanicals. He breaks early and lightly coming off the brakes before corner entry. He then turns into the corner early and uses inertia to rotate the car into the corner. This generated great corner entry speeds. From the passenger seat, the car felt extremely planted. It changed direction well and Colin was able to generate some extreme slip angles which required the car's occupants to drive looking out of the side windows. Colin finished each of his driving stints with a grin bigger than that of a Cheshire cat with a bowl of cream. Great to see such enjoyment coming from a man with such experience.
My style of driving is the complete opposite of Colin's. Having come through the Jack Harding Motorsport school of performance driving. I brake late and hard pinning the front wheels to the track tarmac by shifting the car's weight forward. This stops the front sliding and lets me get back on the power sooner. Both styles of driving have their merits and allowed us to test the new bush kit thoroughly.
We then put Elliot in the driver's seat, for his first-ever laps of Oulton Park. Colin and I were impressed. Again I rode shotgun and offered advice to aid Elliot round his laps. The aim wasn't to coach Elliot but to let him discover how the car felt in comparison to his road-going mazda2 and obtain his completely unbiased and uninfluenced feedback on the new upgrades. Elliot proved to be consistent behind the wheel picking up on the nuances of the car and through questioning appeared to be able to filter out the noise and vibration caused by a stripped-out car with a roll cage and focus on the suspension.
All three of us gave the same feedback in different words. The superpro kit offered quicker steering response compared to the standard bushes. Feedback via the steering wheel was still mute but this is most likely the result of an electronic steering rack that's tuned for granny smith driving to the shops and over assists the driver. The change in feedback via the chassis coming through the driver's seat was a dramatic improvement. It was possible to feel which wheel was losing grip and either adjust the car mid-corner to improve traction or predict an imminent slide and be ready to catch the car as it moved. This sort of feedback gives the driver great confidence to push the car to its limits and hold it there.
Elliot made this evident by being able to very quickly with no prior track experience get onto a respectable pace and use the Mazda2s 100bhp to embarrass a number of Clio 197 drivers and a fiesta St. Once again the Mazda2 proves power isn't everything.
In terms of a value for money upgrade.
Fitment of the bush kit is 9/10 with one mark deducted solely because I hate hate hate having sticky or greasy hands.
Track results are 10/10. The difference in feel and communication is night and day,
Road results are 8/10. The is more road noise fed back to the cabin and some more vibration but this will be reduced in cars that still have a full interior. The level of road feel is just as good as on the track again this will differ depending on what seat you are using.
In terms of when is best to fit this upgrade, I would put it 5th on my list after, Black Diamond Brake pads, Koni suspension kit and a Whiteline anti-roll bar. Having the first four items in place first means you get maximum benefits from the new bushes and really feel the difference.
2Racing must say a huge thank you to SuperPro for letting us test their new Mazda2 bush kit. and thank you to Colin and Elliott for helping with the feedback and offer advice on how to improve the Race2 further.
If you as the reader have any questions about the SuperPro kit feel free to message us on Facebook, email us at email@example.com, or post your question in the comments section below.
If you would like to get involved with product testing, track driving or racing get in touch as there are many ways we can get you involved ranging from road testing 2Racing parts, Hiring the car for track use or coming to one of our races and assisting as part of our pit crew.
We can also supply arrive and drive race cars to those with their race licenses.
Race Team Manager