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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I promised a few of you that I would provide an update after driving the ST on track this weekend.

I'm an instructor with several groups and this weekend I was fortunate enough to run with NASA.


Packed, lightly, on Friday for the trip.

I've had the ST for a month and this was the first time it's been on track. It was absolutely as delivered and, honestly, it was so cold Saturday morning that I didn't even bother to check tire pressures before the first session.

The trip got me a low 34mpg average and that was done mostly at 75-80mph. Overall, I was impressed.


Dressed and ready to play early Saturday morning.

I just did two sessions in the car on Saturday. Duties called and I just didn't have the time for more driving to go along with all my socializing and time with the students.
I turned incredibly consistent (lap to lap) times but they weren't particularly impressive. The cold temps didn't help with grip and I was overdriving the car a bit at first.

The second session went a lot better and I picked up nearly 2 seconds per lap. Two more sessions on Sunday and I was done being hard on her. She, after all, had to get me 350 miles back home.

I could type paragraphs with what I thought, but suffice it to say it's one hell of a capable car. I did the first two sessions in "sport mode" and was a bit let down with how much it intervenes. Yes, it's necessary, but it is really harsh. On Sunday, I drove with it in "off" and the car was a totally different animal. In that configuration I was keeping up and playing with much faster cars, many shod with r-compound tires.

So many people, many of you, will rush to a vendor to replace the shocks and springs with aftermarket stuff. Sadly, most of those people don't have the skill to keep up with what the car will do stock. I hope that some of you make a good decision and use the car for a while as Ford built it. It's fun to add a bit of power, but the suspension is pretty damn good, you owe it to yourself to drive it on track and see exactly what you paid for.



Only after a very vigorous session chasing and leading a friend in his American Iron caliber SN-95 Mustang GT did I finally run through the brakes. The pedal got soft, but I still made the apex at turn one. The tail wagging under braking was nice and made those final stops a bit entertaining. That Mustang friend commented about how well the ST looked in the turns and he admitted an inability to pass me, at least it wasn't as flat out easy as he thought it would be. At t8 I caught the curb with my driver rear tire and he said the view of the rear tires leaving two black stripes in full drift to the next apex at about 80mph was a sight to behold.

You guys paid a lot of money to get this car. I hope some of you get to experience it on track.

Paddock mate seemed a bit annoyed at all the attention garnered by the ST


The only frame grab I have pulled from the video so far.
It was a hell of a lap playing with, and annoying, that M3.


120 plus miles on track and this kind of average.
Sure beats the 5mpg I get with my Rx7


Crisp fall day


And, the end of the day.
 

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Awesome. I instruct with NASA MA also. I bought a Fiesta ST about 5 weeks ago. I missed this particular weekend, but I was supposed to be there. It would have been funny if I would have brought mine. Mine is also Molten Orange. I have the dark wheels though. I have a few questions for you. What times were you running? How did the tire do in the cold? I have been wondering how the extreme summer tires that came stock on this car would do once temps dropped.
 

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Glad to hear the car is that much fun on track. Can't wait to take her out in the spring :)
 

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Glad to see a review from someone who has finally driven an ST in action. Wish you had posted more on how the car felt, how it handled, where you found it lacking, and what you as a driver, had to learn, or overcome, to go faster in it. I want to know, please.

If you had read some of my early posts, I too agree with you. After watching every YouTube video interviews I could find with the ST engineers who designed our Fiesta ST, this is one car I am seriously going to leave as stock as possible. The way they designed all the systems to work together, enhancing each other - people could do some big mistakes by not planning, or thinking their mods through in regards to the car as a whole.

For example, the electronic torque vectoring. It is designed to limit understeer through the use of brakes. What happens if you install steel brake lines (changes brake pressures and feel), or go to bigger brakes (changes entire braking power and grip), or different pads (brake grip). Changing struts or springs will change the entire suspension geometry, and the handling characteristics. Lower too much, and lower control arms not in the proper horizontal arc. These are just a few examples.

These engineers did an amazing job with this car. But there is so much they integrated into the other systems, that it makes even a tiny, simple change, something that could upset their balance dialed in. Yes, it can still be done, but I strongly suggest folks map out their projects to look at the whole picture. Don't just add new coilovers cause they just came out. Or add swaybars cause now available. Plan it all out first.

As for me, I will try to AutoX it as stock as possible. My only planned mods would be better tires (Direza ZII or Rivals if ever made in 215/40/17), and a cat back exhaust so I can hear the ST "sing" to me. Oh, and add my Schroth harness for added driver stability.
 

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It's harder to "improve" a well designed car than most people think. I'm an instructor as well and in most cases-especially in the novice and intermediate run groups-driver ability trumps the capabilities of the car.
 

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It's harder to "improve" a well designed car than most people think. I'm an instructor as well and in most cases-especially in the novice and intermediate run groups-driver ability trumps the capabilities of the car.
LOL! I remember hearing of stories of BMWCCA instructors who've had kids with R Comp tires on their new //M3's who thought cause they survived driving canyon runs, they knew it all. Yet knew so little, and were so erratic and scary, the instructors had to have them pull over so he could puke!
 

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My only planned mods would be better tires (Direza ZII or Rivals if ever made in 215/40/17), and a cat back exhaust so I can hear the ST "sing" to me. Oh, and add my Schroth harness for added driver stability.
Not sure if you could improve on the tires with street tires. The Bridgestones that come factory have a 140 treadwear rating and are pretty sticky. You would probably have to go with Nitto NT01 or Toyo RA1s in order to get something better. I also would not install a harness without a roll bar. Your better off with the seat belt if you don't plan on adding at least a roll bar.
 

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In the Last couple years there has been a sort of tire war going on and Grassroots Motorsports Magazine has yet another good article in this months issue of the testing they have done, While the tire that comes on the Fiesta is ok there are better ones out the like Dunlap Starspec DZll and the BFG g-Force Rival as well as Hankook Ventus R-S3 and the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11A . These are street tires which for the most part are moving to a 200 wear rating to meet SCCA rules for 2015 and are better than what we have on our car stock so yes there is some room for improvement but you need to do your research and know what you are buying as to how it will work in the dry and the wet as they say some are better than others ... But as I said for a stock tire what we got seems to be ok ...



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Not sure if you could improve on the tires with street tires. The Bridgestones that come factory have a 140 treadwear rating and are pretty sticky. You would probably have to go with Nitto NT01 or Toyo RA1s in order to get something better. I also would not install a harness without a roll bar. Your better off with the seat belt if you don't plan on adding at least a roll bar.
They don't call them BridgeROCKS for nothing. Also, Bridgestones has typically been the most expensive tire as well.

I've been doing AutoX since 1974 in a 1968 Triumph Spitfire MKIII. And have used a zillion tires since then (anyone remember the Phoenix Stahlflex 2011?). Often picking the darkhorse (Advan Neova, then the Direza Z1) no one thought of, which later would become THE tire to have in STX/STU. So yes, there can be a huge difference in tires alone. And stock tires, unless a Lotus Exige, are mildly decent.

As for the harness, it is the Schroth Rally 5 - DOT approved for street use. Been using it for some time now.

Rod, thanks for the heads up! Will have to go get that magazine. But you ever notice? It is almost ALWAYS tested on a Honda Civic, and always by Hollis or Montonishi. Pretty much their own cars. You don't wanna know my feelings about........
 

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LOL! I remember hearing of stories of BMWCCA instructors who've had kids with R Comp tires on their new //M3's who thought cause they survived driving canyon runs, they knew it all. Yet knew so little, and were so erratic and scary, the instructors had to have them pull over so he could puke!
I had an Intermediate student with a mildly modified E46 325i coupe(intake,exhaust, springs/shocks/struts, R Comps) who lapped EVERYBODY in her run group- some more than once- E46 M3s, an EVO 8, a 993... Talk about some humbled students!
 

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I run the original Star Specs on my ti; it's a relatively low horsepower car but they are great on the track. I won a set of Pilot Super Sorts so I stuck those on the Mazdaspeed. They aren't a true EHP tire like the DZII or RE-11A but I'm going to see how they perform at an HPDE anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Awesome. I instruct with NASA MA also. I bought a Fiesta ST about 5 weeks ago. I missed this particular weekend, but I was supposed to be there. It would have been funny if I would have brought mine. Mine is also Molten Orange. I have the dark wheels though. I have a few questions for you. What times were you running? How did the tire do in the cold? I have been wondering how the extreme summer tires that came stock on this car would do once temps dropped.
The stock tires were definitely a limiting factor. It was cold and I was running in H4 with all the incredibly fast cars. Combine the limited grip available to me and my desire to not get in anyone's way, and I was driving the rear view mirror almost more than the windshield.

I think the stock Bridgestones are great at low speeds and when being pushed at street driving levels. I was able, however, to exceed their [low] limits rather quickly, but they held on and tried to perform far better than most stock tires could. No tire is going to perform like an r-compound unless it actually is one, but these did just fine. It's been a while since I drove a FWD car on track with street tires though and my thought processes were above the grip available to me. From that perspective, it was disappointing, but the car still performed very well. Everyone that came up to me was complimentary with both my efforts at not spoiling their lap and with how the ST looked from the rear. The car was a hit and I bet people took more photos of it than that beautiful Audi I was parked beside.

I'm sure the tires would have appreciated some ambient heat. They were hard and not grippy u ntil they got heat but they couldn't hold heat like proper r-compound. They went from grippy to greasy very quick (as one would expect from a street tire).

I think I got down to 1:33 lap. There was traffic and me getting clear for the fast guys, but I'm not disappointed with that time considering I never even checked the pressures and from the video, I was clearly leaving a lot on the table from T6 to T9. Discretion was the good idea for the weekend. I've only made one payment on the thing and I didn't want to sail off at T9 in search of a lap time I could brag about.

All in all a complete success. I think you will enjoy yours on track.
 

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1:33 does not sound like a bad lap time. I typically run in the 1:26 range with my Foxbody Mustang. I also know a guy who ran a Focus ST at Summit, earlier this year, and he was running a 1:33s with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
1:33 does not sound like a bad lap time. I typically run in the 1:26 range with my Foxbody Mustang. I also know a guy who ran a Focus ST at Summit, earlier this year, and he was running a 1:33s with that.
Good point. In reality, 1:33 is a great lap time at Summit for a street car. Factor in the limitations of HPDE environment and yielding to faster, overtaking, traffic, I'm pretty damn happy with peaking at 1:33. I used Harry's Lap Timer and most laps were in the 34-36 range, but there was that one good one.

I was just comparing to my regular track car (FD) and the low-mid 1:20's that its capable of (similar to your car). Only hitting 120 on the front straight seemed disappointing in that circumstance.

You're in for a treat taking it on track. It's quite a package. I just hate that so many owners will screw it all up bolting on aftermarket crap.
 

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I bought it for my commuting car, so little changes will be made. My initial thought is to cut some weight by getting some lighter wheels, ditching the spare/jack, swapping to a light weight battery, and maybe an aftermarket exhaust if I can shed 20lbs or so. I think I'll be taking it to NJ to run Thunder in a couple weeks.
 

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I'm glad that some one drive the car on a course and gave some impressions. I was looking at the spring rates and they seemed to be a bit soft compared to my ASP classed Evo, so I'm glad that it feels good while cornering. I am going to run rivals on it next Auto-X season, 225s so a little wider then the 205s which seem almost like toys they are so narrow.
 

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^You must be young. I thought 205s were pretty good on a car like the Fiesta. I remember when a 245 was considered a huge tire. My plan was to get some aftermarket wheels and go to a 215. A little more grip without having to worry about clearance issues.
 

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Nah, I'm 36 so I don't consider myself young. I remember when 205s were considered wide, but given my other cars I have had and that I work around the 205s really seem small now.
 
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