Felipe got in touch with me in early Summer 2015, just a few months before Solo Nationals. He'd been tuning his 99 Miata for a while using Koni Sports and felt he had gotten as much out of that setup as he could. From browsing the Miata.net forum and talking with local racers who had been successfully using our FCM Elite Bilstein based dampers, he was ready to take his setup to the next level and do the best he could in his first Solo Nationals event.
Beginning to work with him was really good timing for me, as I had just the previous year seen several customers do very well with our newer Elite tuning methods, in particualr the experience our long-term Elite customer Mike R had. Earlier in 2014, Mike got back in touch with me after having an Elite setup for a few years. He wanted to see if we had any new tricks and yes indeed, I told him about our FCM Elite KBO (Kerb Blow-Off) option. Mike ordered a new set of dampers and received them shortly before the the SCCA Solo2 Packwood National Tour. You can go here to listen in on the phone conversation I had with Mike after his win (yes, it's a blank screen).
Since 2013 we'd already had our novel and incredibly elegant KBO (Kerb Blow-Off)
technology added to dozens of street and track Elite builds. KBO allows us to use more low-speed compression damping which gives excellent body control without the penalty from too much low-speed rebound, as the majority of cheaper twin-tube and overzealous racers use. The fastest setups I've studied and built all focus on using compression to provide sharp transitional response and chassis control instead of emphasizing rebound which creates 'jacking down' that makes for an unstable setup (as Felipe himself notes in the comments / text screen caps below).
In early 2014, after working with some off-road and large solid-axle vehicle applications, I was inspired to test some of those ideas for street and race builds. I tested on our BMW sedan, then multiple Miatas, what I call Ripple Reducer
which is the highest bang-for-the-buck technology we offer. It works by reducing the impact of small-displacement, higher-frequency oscillation (i.e. road rumble and surface roughness) on the damper's response. This keep the tires from 'pattering' across the ground, which is often perceived as an annoying background 'hum' but is also actually robbing grip. You can have two dyno graphs that look the same, but the differences will show up when you examine the higher-frequency / smaller amplitude response of the damper which most dynos aren't capable of showing - but you certainly feel the impact!
Mike R. has since moved on from autocross but his review was something I mentioned to Felipe. Budget is often a factor so Felipe decided to start with our FCM Elite (non-adjustable) damping to his Hard S Bilsteins, using our latest damping methods. He did add our Ripple Reducer technology
which was a wise choice. Even though Mike loved his KBO Elite setup from us, I was able to get even better street ride (and autocross grip) with softer high speed rebound damping (something the Koni Sport is notorious for generating FAR too much of!). This softened rebound and intelligently-chosen bump stop rates and lengths combined to make the suspension work in a very fluid, even way that maintained grip on rougher surfaces and also gave a surprisingly good street ride - win win!
So Felipe was going to benefit from the latest discoveries I'd made in as I discuss in this video about Street class autocross tuning
about making sure you're not losing suspension travel after each bump or dip. He'd also take advantage of the grip-enhancing capabilities that the 'off-road racing' inspired Ripple Reducer provided.
These are Felipe's comments about his FCM Elite E Street build upon initial installation and first event, with his text transcribed after the screen captures.