The engineers were let loose on the engine too, with the B18c 1800cc VTEC unit hand assembled and fitted with trick parts. Being close to Donington Park I decided to find out how all this race-derived hardware translated to the track.
In February ’06 I ventured out onto the slippery tarmac at Donington along with my Dad in his race prepared TR4, and my younger brother in his Civic Vti. I’ve attended loads of events at Donington over the years, the highlight being the F1 race in 1993,seeing Senna win on slicks… in the rain! The circuit hasn’t been changed since then, and it was a great thrill for me to drive in the tyre treads of my heroes.
The day started out damp, and the ‘Teg was understeering initially. As I got used to the lines of the circuit I could brake harder and turn in under braking, thus setting the car up for a more neutral stance, squeezing the power back in when lining up with the kerb on the exit, utilising the power juggling antics of the ‘slip diff’. Typically safe and predictable front wheel drive handling.
A dry track and faded brakes towards the end of the day allowed me to be more aggressive with my turn in resulting in some tail lead slides. You can feel the weight transfer between corners and precisely what all four tyres are doing at any given moment; hard cornering is where the Integra comes alive. It was great having the opportunity to use all of the Integra’s firepower, because the full 190bhp is rarely deployed gear after gear on the road. The Integra worked well on the limit through the Craner Curves leaning subtly on its suspension and easing into a gentle drift through Hollywood.
The standard brakes faded after 10 laps of really pushing them. When the time comes for replacements, I’ll look at some fast road pads such as Ferrodo DS2500s. They’ve had favourable reviews on the Integra forum www.itr-dc2.com. The ITR allows plenty of slip on the track from the modest rubber, so whilst not the quickest thing out there, it was highly exploitable, and showed the ‘flame thrower’ TR4 and the Civic a clean pair of Championship White heels.
Later in the year I planned a trip around Scotland to take in great scenery, roads and sights. The only long distances I had done previously were Goodwood, and the odd London run for work. The motorway is where the high revving nature of the B18 engine can get tiresome. A six hour run from Derby to Glasgow was a tiring drive, although the Recaros were supportive and a comfy place to be for a long journey. Despite the best efforts of Dire Straits, Coldplay, Jack Johnson and Tommy Emmanuel, the engine and road noise were always present. The Type R pixies junked all of the sound deadening from the ‘Teg at the factory to save weight and the addition of my Fujitsubo exhaust didn’t help. The ITR is a highly strung long distance tool, 90mph rotating the engine five thousand times a minute. I was glad to get to my hotel.
The next few days were sunny, so aircon on or windows down, I set off to savour the Scottish roads. My favourite day started in Perth, up to Inverness and back down to Glasgow. After visiting Rob Roy’s grave (a distant ancestor of my family’s) and Cullodon Battle Field, this route took me down the West side of Loch Ness, over to Fort William, Loch Linnhe, Ballachulish (need your coat there!), and back towards Glasgow. Empty, stunning, sinuous roads, screaming engine and beautiful scenery. The spirited drive down this wonderful route made the long drive up worthwhile, it was perfect, and the car was perfect. Over three days I clocked up over 1700 miles.
After a service at Lookers Honda in spring ‘06, I looked into buying a new set of tyres. The ITR was developed on Bridgestone’s RE010 tires, which feature particularly stiff sidewalls. I ordered 4 hoops of rubber from mytyres.co.uk for £60 a corner. Straight away the car felt nimbler on its feet. I didn’t realise how much until I tracked the ‘Teg for an afternoon at Donington in November. Mr Yu mentioned he would be there in the monstrous Corvette, and the opportunity was too good to miss. He kindly gave me a couple of Auto-Journals stickers that the car now wears with pride.
By this time my brakes had really had it for track work though, and after a lap they were juddering badly through the pedal.
However the understeer that I noticed on my previous visit had disappeared, replaced by balanced agility, adjustability and poise – all due to the new tyres. I came belting into Goddards on cold tyres during the first flying lap and completely lost the back end. Knowing how much Mr Wheatcroft likes his grass, opposite lock and a good boot of throttle were applied and saved the day! Once the tyres were warm the car really flowed. The lack of braking power meant higher corner entry speeds, four wheeled drifts and lift-off oversteer where the order of the day.
The car hardly drinks any oil. I know other ITR owners who get through a fair bit. I use Silkolene Pro S 5W-40 from www.opieoils.co.uk. Even after an afternoon on track, very little oil was used, the level remaining towards the top indicator on the stick. This is usually the sign of a fit engine.
Next time, some unwelcome modification to the bodywork prompts paint and a favour from a fellow Integra driver.