This new Andy Blackmore Design-liveried Honda Integra Type-R was down and out last year. Now it’s been given a new lease of life and is ready to fight for the NGK Racing Series championship.[Not a valid template]
The Honda Integra Type-R you see here is now 12 years old. It has raced its way around Asia and competed in the stifling humidity of Malaysia before embarking on a new life in the NGK Racing Series, nee UAE Touring Car Championship, in the United Arab Emirates. As you can imagine, years of such competitive abuse have taken their toll: from 16 races last year, it scored just two category wins while the only other regular Honda in the field romped to 11, and the championship.
For driver Jonathan Mullan, the time was right for a new lease of life, namely a thorough overhaul, suspension work and chassis modifications, and a new Andy Blackmore Design livery. Far from the occasional podium, this old dog has been taught several new tricks as it vies for the 2013/2014 NGK Racing Series Class 2 championship.
“At the end of last season, the Integra was feeling tired,” Jonathan explains. “I had fuel line cracks and two alternators failed, which caused DNFs. So I decided around June last year that we” – the Irish lad and the LAP57 Racing team – “would strip the whole thing back to its shell. And in doing so we found a lot of shortfalls in the original build. There was rust and holes in the floor, so we undertook a lot of reinforcement welding to improve the chassis, and we also cut a lot of weight out of it. Even the way the harnesses had been fitted was second-rate: in the event of a real high impact I might have been in trouble!”
The Mullan Integra battling furiously with the Clio Cup contenders was a familiar sight at the Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina last season, the grunt from the Integra’s K20a engine just enough to keep the more nimble Clios at bay down the straights. Now though, thanks to new lightweight carbon fibre doors, fenders and bonnet, new AST suspension, and a more responsive Mugen transmission, manoeuvrability for the now 12-year old Type R should be significantly improved.
“Last year I couldn’t get the right camber settings,” Jonathan continues, “so we had to modify the lower end of the suspension: now I can get up to 4.5-degree of camber, whereas last year I was struggling to get more than 3.5 and it affected the handling.
“The supplier of our AST suspension sent me spring ratings for the front, which were 14kg. Problem was the rears weighed 28kg. Everybody was saying ‘this is crazy’, since the difference between the two was making the back end super stiff, and the front end was basically ploughing nose-first through the corners. So it wasn’t nimble. Hindsight is a great thing!”
Given the NGK Racing Series’ restrictions on power output, simply adding an extra hundred horses to the 200hp already under the bonnet wasn’t an option.
“We’re limited in terms of horsepower, so you could build a super engine but it’s no good to you. So the engine is the same, and we’ve just renewed bearings and things like that.
“We have though changed cooling at the front end. At the last race we were struggling with overheating, so we’ve changed from the conventional air intake setup to TODA ITBs (Individual throttle Body). Off the line last year, I was generally faster than Rupesh [Channake] but in the corners he just pulled away. And we reckon that is because he had much more torque and much more response out of the corners. We hope to have improved that.”
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