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Uncertain future for my relationship with a Superlight R...

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  • Uncertain future for my relationship with a Superlight R...

    Hi All,

    I'm new to the forum, here to glean some information on tracking a Caterham and make some decsions on what to do with my car. I'm in the San Jose area.

    I've got a 2002 Superlight R with the 2.0 Zetec / 6 speed drivetrain (non-SVT). I'm in a quandry because I drive it far too little -- a few hundred miles per year -- and that fact is starting to bother me.

    I want to either start to get out on a track with the car, drive and enjoy it a lot more on public roads, or sell it.

    I started driving at track days about 10 months ago in my Subaru WRX STI, and have been to 6 or 7 now. I wanted to learn with a car which was easier to drive fast (AWD), had a bit more structure to it in case I went off badly, and is worth less. That car is surprisingly fun and fast on a track, but certainly the Seven is in a whole different league.

    So, I'm going to poke around here a bit and see if I can learn the hot tire setup and alignment for a Seven on the track and any other tips I can from you more experienced guys.

    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    Dave, welcome to the group.

    The best thing to do is get involved with other Seven owners for the events you mention.

    The cars are more than twice the fun if you join a group for a track weekend or Sunday blat.

    It's been relatively quiet for us getting together for track days for the last year or so. Hopefully the rest of this year will be better. Buttonwillow with AROSC / NCRC, and NASA events tend to get cars from both Northern and Southern California and all run good events. Any track day with a bunch of Seven owners is always great.

    You don't need anything better than good street tires for the track but slicks and lightweight 13" wheels really liven the car up. Check Blatchat for info on setup or ask questions here.

    There are several Seven owners in the Bay area that you should be able to arrange blats with.

    Just be careful around the Australian guy.
    Last edited by Doug Liedblad; August 7, 2010, 04:41 AM.


    • #3
      You should consider coming the various Golden Gate Lotus Club events ( We usually have 6 tracks days and 8 autocrosses a year that attract Sevens of different types. We will have at least 2 Sevens at our September 28 track day at Thunderhill.

      P.S.: I am a WCM Ultralite owner living in Santa Clara.
      V8 Stalker
      06 Elise
      02 Dodge Viper GTS
      16 Dodge Charger Hellcat


      • #4
        Your Caterham will feel much different on the track compared to your STI, but I think it would be an easy transition. You won't have ABS or traction control, as well as the difference between an AWD and RWD car, but I think you will enjoy the difference! A seven may take a lot of skill to drive at the limits, but is generally very forgiving. And the feeling of a light well balanced car can't be beat.

        What kind of tires do you have now? I've tried everything from slicks to street tires, and I prefer something in between. Fortunately, you can put stickier tires on these cars and get a lot of track time on them due to the low weight. Setup for the car will depend a little on the tire selection, but I'm sure your superlight will do very well with just a standard setup.

        Just to echo the previous posts, it is great fun to get together with the other seven drivers here. Hope to meet you at an event sometime soon.



        • #5
          Hi Dave,

          Welcome! I have organized a few local blats and am happy to org some more. We have some fantastic "spirited driving" roads right here in our back yards. I'll post here next time we have a drive.

          There will be quite a few sevens at the Monterey Historics this weekend.


          Tom "ELV15" Jones


          • #6

            Thanks for the posts!

            I currently have the 13" CR500s, but while they are fine for spirited back road drives I think they're a bit old / have too many heat cycles to take to the track. I'm leaning toward another set of the same, as they are nice and light (compared to Kumhos for instance) and are compatible with my current alignment (as opposed to ACB10s). But I have more research ahead before deciding. Any inputs from you guys already on the track or pointers to specific threads where you've expressed your opinions are welcome; I'm searching blatchat.

            The other problem I think I need to solve is rollover protection and seating. I currently have the bench seats as opposed to buckets (upholstered floor / rear bulkhead, basically), and the FIA rollover bar (not full cage). With these, I'm right on the edge of passing / failing the "broomstick" test, even at only 6' 0". I saw a post about a custom foam vacuum-formed seat kit which looks great, but I don't know if it will buy me more room. What are you guys doing?

            I have had my eye on the golden gate lotus club events - I think getting out there with a bunch of other light-weight cars would be more fun, as I'd feel less vulnerable to being squished!




            • #7

              I'm 6'4" and fitted lowered floors - which were the single best upgrade I've made so far. They also make a "tall" fia bar if you need even more room.

              With a bag seat you can get right down to the floor, but I'm not sure how much better that would be than a bench seat. How much padding do your seats have?


              Tom "ELV15" Jones


              • #8
                If you're going to keep the car:

                The ACB10s are better on-track than the CR500s, once you get some heat into them. Neither can compare w/ slicks, not by a country mile. Slicks are soooo much fun.

                If the bench seat comes out easily then you can buy a kit from Pegasus and make a foam seat. It'll put you much lower in the car. There's 2 types, both relatively inexpensive. As mentioned here before, the "broomstick test" is meaningless if you're measuring from t.o. rollbar to t.o. windscreen. The windscreen simply does not supply any structural strength at all.
                A day you don't go a hundred is a day wasted


                • #9
                  I've been doing my "broomstick test" from the top of the roll bar to the top suspension mounting point at the front of the car, which is why I don't "pass". I estimate about an inch of seat foam when compressed, and if I could get another inch from a lowered floor I think I might be OK.

                  So I think I will either do a) FIA roll bar + petty bar + side intrusion bar + lowered floor, or b) roll cage. Either way I'm going to try a poured seat.

                  I talked to Roger at Roger Kraus Racing about tires; he sounds like a good source for some slicks. He's currently advising Goodyears in a 475 compound, partly it seems based on current inventory (next softer compound out of stock, Avons out of stock).


                  Should I take additional track prep discussion to another section of the board?


                  Last edited by do_superlight; August 17, 2010, 08:26 PM. Reason: typo


                  • #10

                    "Your Caterham will feel much different on the track compared to your STI, but I think it would be an easy transition. "

                    You think it would be an easy transition -- that's because you haven't seen my abrupt steering and throttle inputs which are largely forgiven due to AWD and turbo lag! :) But yes, based on some limited track experience in rear drive cars (russell racing school cars) I think the handling of a RWD car is much more entertaining.

                    "What kind of tires do you have now? I've tried everything from slicks to street tires, and I prefer something in between."

                    For the STI I run DOT R comound tires -- Michelin and Kumho so far. Tire wear has not been too bad or shockingly expensive (I expected it, i guess), but I was surprised by how much I've had to spend on brakes (3 track days per set). I read with great interest the thread about the 3rd place finishers at the 2009 25 hours of Thunderhill running the whole thing in a Caterham on one set of pads!!

                    You say you prefer something in between slicks and street tires -- what is it about your tires of choice which you like? And which are they?