2002 Van Diemen Sports 2000 Development Program Update

Buttonwillow Raceway 9/17 - 9/18/02

The short story as to why there was a "Sports 2000" test day at Buttonwillow Raceway September 17-18 lies within the political shenanigans of the professional series for S2000 race cars; The American City Racing League. It seems that the series will have new management in 2003, bringing new dates and potential rule changes. This new regime had scheduled a meeting of sorts in conjunction with this test, and also had invited several journalists out to check out the cars. Most of the S2 cars on hand were Cosworth powered cars.

Les and Nick Johnson
It was a quick turnaround (and long weekend) for Eric, who had to prepare the car after its debut test Friday for a Monday departure in yet another borrowed trailer. Eric arrived with the car Tuesday morning at Buttonwillow. Also on hand for the second test were Nik and Les Johnson - of Ancaster Karting - the distributors of the Van Diemen Sports 2000 in England. Nik had won the English S2000 series last year.

The track configuration for the two days of testing incorporated both east and west loops of the track, and gave us a chance to work on the high speed cornering characteristics of the car. We started with the setup from Portland, and it was similarly balanced at this track. ( If not just a bit more loose in both mid-speed and high-speed corners.) At the suggestion of Les and Nik Johnson, we also tried running the car with a radically different spring and bar combination with lighter springs and the swaybars disconnected. We were able to achieve a balance on this setup rather quickly, and the car felt surprisingly similar to the previous setup with heavier springs and swaybars. Ultimately, I liked the feel of the car with heavier springs and bars hooked up. We continued to fight a bit of an oversteering condition, which led us to revalving the shocks. The stiffer package helped everywhere - but we still had a bit of a high-speed instability in the fastest set of corners. Eric was confident that this was merely an aero adjustment, and would fabricate some pieces to give us a bit more downforce at the rear of the car. By the end of the test, the balance of the car was again very good, (minus the two high speed corners where we were still a little light on rear downforce.) Nik drove the car Wednesday afternoon, and came in saying " if the cowl was blue with the splotch of yellow from the stripe, this could be my car….." He also noted the aero- instability in the high-speed corner, but was pleased with the overall feel of the car.

Nik Johnson belting into the Van Diemen S2000
At the end of the day a couple of ACRL competitors / prospective buyers took a few laps each.
Considering the car has had a total of two outings, I am confident that we could show up and race the car competitively right now. We may get the car to an event later in the year, and we will certainly be doing more testing. On the agenda will be a bit of aero for the back, and the continued search for more mechanical grip…..