Performance / Track day preparation

Track days are great fun, but they impose more strain on your car than normal road use.

The Mazda MX5 is particularly well suited to track days; correctly set up it has very good balance and is the ideal platform to learn how to get the best from car on the circuit. They are also mechanically strong so a car in good condition will shrug off the abuse without a problem.

The car should be prepared for track driving.

Safety

Track days can be a lot of fun but accidents do happen so it is always worth taking your safety seriously.

Roll bars in various styles cost from £300 to buy plus approximately £170 to fit neatly.

You may wish to install a three point harness at the same time and maybe bucket seats. You feel more secure and part of the car with these but they are a bit of a nuisance for a daily driver.

Make sure the car has towing loops front and rear as they are a requirement at circuits and make sure the battery is clamped correctly.

Brakes

The standard brakes in good condition will cope with track days but it’s important to ensure that the brake fluid is fresh and of good quality (over time brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and under heavy braking this can boil causing brake failure). A good first upgrade would be EBC Yellowstuff pads all round, giving a firmer pedal and more stopping power.

The discs and pads should not be too worn and the calliper pistons free to move.

A brake fluid change and brake service will cost approximately £90 assuming no major problems are uncovered.

Handling

An MX5 in good condition is a delightful road car displaying poise and balance. It is quite sensitive to set up and the condition of dampers and tyres in particular has a large impact on the cars feel. Poor tyres cause the car to lose stability in a straight line and lower grip; weak dampers will allow the suspension to bottom out easily again throwing you off line.

Let us carry out four wheel alignment (£70 assuming the adjustments are not seized) and you will notice a huge improvement on a car that already seemed quite good. We can sharpen up turn in and increase grip in corners. Note up rated bushes are not needed in lower states of tune.

Actual settings can be tailored to your needs and need not cause uneven tyre wear.

Developing the car further you will want to lower the car using good quality adjustable coilovers such as Gaz Golds or MeisteRs and control body roll using stronger antiroll bars front and rear (adjustable to help get the balance you like).

Engine

Fresh 10/40 semi synthetic oil, good quality antifreeze, good plugs and ignition leads will keep the engine happy.

On MK1 cars advancing the ignition timing from 10 to 14 degrees is easy and gives a small power gain.

Induction kits need to draw cool air (i.e. not sit right next to the exhaust manifold).

Exhaust systems can give small power increases but above all will make the car sound and look better.

If you wish to dramatically increase power then forced induction using either turbo or superchargers offer big gains.