It’s alive – it is alive!
OK, Project Nine was never completely dead, but having been so long since our last update, I’d completely understand if you thought the car had been forgotten, towed away, or driven off a river bank purely for kicks. Sadly, with no real progress on the car, I’ve had nothing worth diverting your attention to; 2018 has been the busiest year of my life, and unfortunately, the fun aspect of car ownership was placed on ice for some time.
Time was my most valuable commodity and sadly the only time spent with my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX was during daily driving duties, for occasional general maintenance, and very rarely standing in for light checks during photoshoots. You’re welcome to correct me, but I don’t imagine the majority of you would care to read about an oil change.
But the battle with time seems to be swinging back in my favour at the moment, and if chasing my tail for the best part of a year has had any advantage it’s that it’s taught me how to appreciate and maximise that free time when it’s available.
Enough about that though; let me quickly reintroduce you to the core focus of the project. The primary goal is to strike the perfect balance between a reliable daily and a very capable track-hack for weekend adventures and race tracks. Secondary purposes include determining if this magical balance is even possible, or if I’ll just end up with another highly-strung hand grenade parked in my garage.
Along with all that, I’ve been tracking my progress as a driver across a whole range of situations. Even if I don’t somehow manage to transform from a complete numpty into a supernatural demigod behind the wheel (how could I possibly not?), it should at least provide an opportunity for some fun quips to be made at my expense in the comments section below. Talk about a win-win situation!
From Where We Left Off
Besides oil and maybe some wiper blades, the last real change made to the Evo was a tyre upgrade. Instead of reordering more of the same, I took the opportunity to try something new and put a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-71Rs through their paces. Satisfied with their road-going performance, I booked in a day at Sydney Motorsport Park, the home of World Time Attack Challenge, to fully test their capabilities.
The tyres outperformed my expectations and really highlighted just how capable the CT9A Evolution is in its close-to-stock form. They also stressed how poor my brakes were. Whoops!
We’re talking aged rotors, old brake fluid, and brake pads that just weren’t up to the task. I can’t imagine a better call to action than the complete brake fade into Australia’s fastest turn I experienced in one of the later afternoon sessions. I was fortunate enough to roll back to the pits and call it a day.
The near-gelatinous brake pads were removed and unceremoniously binned, and the boiled fluid was replaced. But the rotors would have to stay on the car for just another month or two. Yeah, honestly, that was my intention at the time, but as it does, time gets away, and the task eluded me until just a few weeks ago.
It’s difficult to decide whether the universe was rewarding my patience or my lack of action, but either way it was good news. DBA (Disc Brakes Australia) had a care package ready and waiting in their Sydney office.
Needless to say, I wasted no further time before fitment. Having run a full set of DBA 4000 T2 single-piece rotors on my previous car, an Evolution VII, I’m excited to find out how the newest revision and the two-piece rotors stack up. It’s also quite satisfying to showcase another excellent example of Australian engineering to our global car community.
Like A Kid In A Candy Store
All packaged up was a pair of two-piece slotted DBA 5000 series T3 slotted discs to replace the Evolution IX’s original rotors, and two DBA T3 slotted 4000 series one-piece rotors for the rears.
Surprise, surprise; the rotors were even complemented by a set of newly released DBA Xtreme Performance brake pads for testing, too. The pads are a semi-metallic based material with a shim hard-pressed onto the backing. I’m really curious to see how they perform under pressure.
Immediately, I pulled the DBA 5000s out for a closer inspection. The most noticeable feature on the disc face is the T3 slots, which are each precisely CNC machined. The ‘T3′ in the model number is a direct reference to the tri-symmetrical slots, and aside from looking ‘very race car,’ there is a practical reason for them. A flat disc surface offers no relief for brake dust and gas expelled from the brake pads at high temperature. By machining these grooves an exit point is created for brake pad friction dust and gasses to escape through.
Of course, there is a tiny trade-off in braking surface area but the benefits are huge. I should experience consistent brake response and power, and it will also help deglaze the pads should I get a little over excited/terrified on the brakes.
Notice the bolts between the hat and disc? There are a raft of benefits to a two-piece setup, the most obvious being that the lighter centre can be used to reduce unsprung weight, in this case aerospace-grade aluminium. If you think of entire rotating assembly at each corner as a flywheel, storing energy and maintaining momentum, it should become obvious why a lighter rotor is a big plus. But with lighter weight comes a lower thermal capacity; a split arrangement like this allows for a lower overall weight but keeps the weight in the important friction surface area.
The less obvious quality is the two-piece arrangement is that it allows for a more uniform expansion across the braking surface. This should prolong the life of each disc and give a more consistent braking experience. An alloy bell aids thermal recovery too, transferring heat to the wheel (and tyre) away from the brake disc.
The Club Spec 4000 series rotors that’ll be fitted to the rear are cast from the same high carbon alloyed iron as the 5000 series rotors. The material is a unique alloy designed and manufactured by DBA specifically to cope with the high heat and stress generated by intense braking. Perhaps a visit to the factory to see exactly how the process happens should be placed on the agenda?
One final feature that’s worth mentioning are those three coloured stripes. Each stripe fades to white when the thermo-graphic paint reaches a certain temperature. Hopefully, I’ll be clever enough to make use of this feature at the track soon when I put the Evolution IX’s new shoes to the test.
Out with the old. Thanks, Christian!
In with the new.
The new brakes were installed about a month ago, and I’ve already racked up some serious kilometres on them. They managed to keep me alive when I ‘Got Out And Drove‘. The current pads are somewhat noisy in traffic, but have an amazingly sharp bite when braking hard. I’ve got a plan to combat the squeal, but I’ll delve more into that when we hit the track soon.
Man, it feels good to be back. In summary, Project Nine is very much alive. In fact, it’s just come back from the workshop, which means we should another update shortly. Also, the track is calling.