S2K Challenge Series: Thunderhill in Willows

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Article by Michael Tsay (Dipstick)

S2k Challenge #4 was held April 11, 2009 at Thunderhill in Willows, CA. The long distance from SoCal and the Easter weekend did affect turnout. However, we did get many Bay Area S2000 drivers and had a blast driving one of the premier tracks on California!
Thunderhill is SCCA’s home track in Norcal so the facility is great : huge canopies for shade, gigantic paddock, real bathrooms, timing building/meeting room/burger grille…only thing missing is the grandstands. The track itself is really quite spectacular at 3 miles long, new pavement, curbing all nicely maintained. This was my 2nd time here and I’m still amazed at how technical and fast it really is.


Saturday’s event weather was clear and cool, topping out in the low 70’s, with a light breeze. Participants started to fill the paddock around 7am.
First, we ran into Owen Guo (Owenxguo, #7). He was running UNLIMITED class in his white AP1, a veteran of Redline and various other Time Attacks.
Mike Skowron (S2kfrog, #323) and Paul Asterline (SDRACING, #121) were our two STREET participants, both in lightly modded S2’s.
Matt Feng Zhu (windforce, #73), Ivan Hung (smile, #18), and myself (dipstick, #877) rounded out our MOD category.

Since we were not doing a time trial format, Aaron told us that only sessions 2, 3, and 4 would “count”, sessions 1 and 5 would be discarded.

As sole UL entrant, Owen had 1st locked up.
However, he was still able to run the fastest S2000 lap of the day with a 2:05.5 during Red 2 – on par with the fastest Red group cars.

In MOD, Feng Zhu was able to run a 2:14 in Black 4 for 3rd place.

Ivan and I rode in each other’s cars to compare notes and while we had similar lines, he struggled a little with his non-staggered setup (getting some understeer in the highspeed sweepers).
He tried dialing down his wing a little but couldn’t strike the perfect balance as that seemed to unsettle the rear.
Still, with some smooth driving, Ivan was able to bring in a 2:12 in Black 2 for 2nd in MOD.

Since S2k C#3 @ Streets, I did a new alignment, upped the front camber to F -2.7 (R still at -2.3), zero’d out the twitchy toe-out, left the toe in at the back (1/8″ for less tail happiness).
I also reduced the AOA on the wing which had ended up tweaked extra high at Streets to band-aid some looseness in back.
During Red 3, I was able to run a 2:06.3, good for 1st in MOD.

In STREET class, newcomers Paul and Mike were running similar times all day.
Mike Skowron was able to bring in a 2:25.5 in his nearly stock Laguna S2, good for 2nd.
However, Paul Asterline pulled out a 2:23.8 in his last run for 1st place in STREET!

Prizes were generous including:
1st place $100 gift certificates from Hardtop Guy (www.hardtopguy.com)
2nd place Baffled Oil Pans (and 1/2 off labor) from R&D Factory (www.rndfactory.com)
3rd place $50 gift certificates from Mike’s Ultimate Dent Removal
Speedventures gift certificates.

Thunderhill is a spectacular track and, for pure driving enjoyment, is right up there with Infineon and Laguna…

As usual, it was great meeting fellow S2k drivers and we look forward to seeing everyone again at S2k Challenge #5 April 18 at Buttonwillow!

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