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Miata Penskes - Results


LuckyKid
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Penskes vs. Bilsteins:

 

PartsBadger ran 2019 with standard Spec Miata Bilsteins, with 850/900 and 450 springs.  We switched to Penskes for 2020 and these are our notes:

 

  • Penskes are officially 2X but require a coil-over so they are 40pts.  This includes modified 99 top hats.
  • The Complete Penske Setup is 5lbs 3.3oz lighter than Bilsteins total.
  • Penskes require 99 hats and modifications.  They are a bitch to drill out for the modification but mazda now sells them pre-modded.
  • Penskes installation instructions have an additional rubber keeper on the spring that we were not running before.  We estimate this impacts ride height ~0.2" however the spring mount also seems higher on the 99 hats, which then lowers the ride height some vs. Bilsteins.

 

Driving Notes:

 

Overall the car is just smoother.  I believe this is a combination of the additional rubber spacer on the spring, but it was audibly quieter and we could go full-send over all the rumbles without the car straining.  With the bilsteins it just felt a little more strained and that you are stressing things mechanically.  We would still go full send with the Bilsteins, but I felt bad about it.   I did not feel a speed difference directly, but we also had many other aero changes and didn't test back-to-back.  At a track like Sebring, I could see a much bigger advantage.  At a smooth track and/or low rumbles there is likely no difference between Penskes and Bilsteins.

 

The car was maybe 1.5-2 seconds faster in 2020 vs. 2019 at Road Atlanta, but I believe most of that is aero and weight changes, and a couple tenths are attributable to the Penskes.

 

Miata teams can message me directly for any additional questions and notes. 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, SonsOfIrony said:

So my take from this is, the penskis are unlikely to massively improve the best or ideal lap time of a well sorted car, but they will have a significant effect on average lap times by helping promote driver confidence.

 

 

That's likely fair except for Sebring, I see fast lap improvements at Sebring for sure.

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Pretty simple equation to see that a bumpy track sees more benefit from the right shock package.

 

- Since the package from Mazda is expecting a heavier car on softer springs, was there any re-valving done to match the new shocks to the lighter car, stiffer springs?

- How old were the yellow ones?  Not doubting that they are better, but is any of that better-er because the old ones were at the end of their life?

- had the old ones been re-valved as noted above?

 

We've been looking at this package too, if for nothing else it is an Easy Button approach to replace the Yellow SM's that have a million miles on them.

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19 minutes ago, MMiskoe said:

Pretty simple equation to see that a bumpy track sees more benefit from the right shock package.

 

- Since the package from Mazda is expecting a heavier car on softer springs, was there any re-valving done to match the new shocks to the lighter car, stiffer springs?

- How old were the yellow ones?  Not doubting that they are better, but is any of that better-er because the old ones were at the end of their life?

- had the old ones been re-valved as noted above?

 

We've been looking at this package too, if for nothing else it is an Easy Button approach to replace the Yellow SM's that have a million miles on them.

 

Lighter car mechanically maybe, but the Parts Badger has a lot more aero than a SM, so the difference might be in the opposite direction.

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45 minutes ago, MMiskoe said:

Pretty simple equation to see that a bumpy track sees more benefit from the right shock package.

 

- Since the package from Mazda is expecting a heavier car on softer springs, was there any re-valving done to match the new shocks to the lighter car, stiffer springs?

- How old were the yellow ones?  Not doubting that they are better, but is any of that better-er because the old ones were at the end of their life?

- had the old ones been re-valved as noted above?

 

We've been looking at this package too, if for nothing else it is an Easy Button approach to replace the Yellow SM's that have a million miles on them.

The Bilsteins were in good shape but we're on my street car for a bit before going on the racecar.  No revalving.  

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11 hours ago, JDChristianson said:

The test results from the pros said the real gain from the Penske was consistency from lap one to lap 20 or so.  They did not fall off in lap times like the yellow ones.    

 

If I'm remembering the article correctly, this was more about the fall off of the tire when compared to the Penske/Bilstein set ups.  The comparison to our "200" TW tires is likely not the same.

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54 minutes ago, CoachMK21 said:

 

If I'm remembering the article correctly, this was more about the fall off of the tire when compared to the Penske/Bilstein set ups.  The comparison to our "200" TW tires is likely not the same.

It’s certainly true that the testing was not done on a Champcar set up.  To really know one would have to test at our weights springs and tires.    The Penske was specifically designed for SM so is likely not optimized for what can be run in Champcar.     I’ve always thought they should have been points just because they are a designed for racing part and the precedent it sets for allowing other things is not good.   

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22 minutes ago, JDChristianson said:

It’s certainly true that the testing was not done on a Champcar set up.  To really know one would have to test at our weights springs and tires.    The Penske was specifically designed for SM so is likely not optimized for what can be run in Champcar.     I’ve always thought they should have been points just because they are a designed for racing part and the precedent it sets for allowing other things is not good.   

How many teams are re-valving their shocks to match their Champcar setup?

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20 minutes ago, LuckyKid said:

How many teams are re-valving their shocks to match their Champcar setup?

We aren’t.  I don’t know if any are.  I wasn’t saying anyone was doing that, just that the Penske was not specifically valves for Champcar.   

 

If we were custom valving shocks I sure wouldn’t talk about it on the internet.   

 

 

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1 hour ago, CoachMK21 said:

 

If I'm remembering the article correctly, this was more about the fall off of the tire when compared to the Penske/Bilstein set ups.  The comparison to our "200" TW tires is likely not the same.

A long time ago the company I worked for did at-track support for the Fran-Am series. As part of the service we provided, I rebuilt shocks and ran the shock dyno in the trailer to provide the teams with fresh shocks as needed. Part of our support included the testing of the spec shocks to make sure no one had fiddled with the valving.

 

The shocks were essentially Ohlins but with cheaper internals. They were externally adjustable as well. Not bad but definitely considered a wear item even for such short races. I'm pretty sure one team engineer thought I was a genius when I tested his shocks and asked whether his driver was complaining about a certain series of bumpy corners. They had been cranking up the adjustment to "fix" the problem, but the issue was that the shock was worn out and was bypassing internally within a lap or two after going out as the fluid heated up and thinned out. Rebuilt the shock, gave him the before and after dyno sheets to show him what was happening. I think they podiumed.

 

The point is that a quality shock maintains its performance. That's the consistency. Just about any shock will work well for a few laps, but not for long. Check your lap times after a restart; if you see a blazer within 3-5 laps then a gradual slowing for awhile it could be the tires but it's also likely that your shocks cooled during the yellow and worked well again before they heated up, especially if the tires you're running are known to work well at higher temps and not get greasy until punished for awhile.

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3 minutes ago, mender said:

A long time ago the company I worked for did at-track support for the Fran-Am series. As part of the service we provided, I rebuilt shocks and ran the shock dyno in the trailer to provide the teams with fresh shocks as needed. Part of our support included the testing of the spec shocks to make sure no one had fiddled with the valving.

 

The shocks were essentially Ohlins but with cheaper internals. They were externally adjustable as well. Not bad but definitely considered a wear item even for such short races. I'm pretty sure one team engineer thought I was a genius when I tested his shocks and asked whether his driver was complaining about a certain series of bumpy corners. They had been cranking up the adjustment to "fix" the problem, but the issue was that the shock was worn out and was bypassing internally within a lap or two after going out as the fluid heated up and thinned out. Rebuilt the shock, gave him the before and after dyno sheets to show him what was happening. I think they podiumed.

 

The point is that a quality shock maintains its performance. That's the consistency. Just about any shock will work well for a few laps, but not for long. Check your lap times after a restart; if you see a blazer within 3-5 laps then a gradual slowing for awhile it could be the tires but it's also likely that your shocks cooled during the yellow and worked well again before they heated up, especially if the tires you're running are known to work well at higher temps and not get greasy until punished for awhile.

 

This is massively helpful. Thanks for the insight. No thanks to pushing me closer to the edge of buying the gat danged Penskes....

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