Ernie Francis Jr. took his former MX-5 Cup car from TCA to TC configuration for 2015.
Ernie Francis Jr. found that taking an MX-5 Cup car to Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car A was a fairly simple transition. Put on a hardtop, change the graphics, go racing, win.
Taking that same car into the Touring Car category, though, isn’t quite as simple, especially with the new aero additions for 2015. However, it’s still not a major operation, and a long way from starting from scratch.
“The main thing we had to upgrade was the motor in the car, because we weren’t making the power we had to,” Francis explains. “We contacted Mazda and they put together a motor package that they want everyone to run in TC, the 2.5-liter motor. So that’s what we have inside the car. Other than that, the MX-5 Cup suspension – the same one we ran in TCA – works perfectly out here. It’s fully adjustable, so we keep that in the car.”
The other additions are StopTech brakes at the front, which Francis says seems to make a big difference, and an OS Giken differential. “It hooks up better and feels better all the way around.”
New for 2015 in the Touring Car class is rear wings. “It adds a little bit of downforce to the car and helps it through the turns. The car’s cornering a lot quicker and it’s definitely going down the straights a lot quicker than before. We’re five or six seconds faster than we were last year with the TCA setup,” he says.
Francis finished fifth in Round 1 at Circuit of the Americas, then had an incident while challenging for the lead in Round 2. The third round at COTA was in the rain. Because the last time World Challenge was at COTA it was using a different circuit configuration, direct comparisons between the cars isn’t possible. When The Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Championship returns to action at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on May 15-17, it may be possible to gauge the true difference.