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      02-15-2017, 11:14 PM   #1
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Initial Bilstein Clubsport Suspension review

Well, after what could be called a major renovation, the M3 is ready for dual duty......but the most pleasant surprise from all my mods are the Bilstein Clubsports.

I haven't had a chance to fully sort them out on track yet, but I can already tell they are going to be good. The dampening they provide for 600/800# springs is great, and they are currently set on just under the middle settings, but still offer great control even on crappy public roads, and that with bigger swaybars front and rear. Currently set at 4R/3C (front) and 5R/4C (rear) out of 10 clicks each for Rebound and Compression, I still have plenty of room to adjust stiffer if needed. Honestly, it's nice to have an adjuster with 10 clicks, not 25....most of the time, the extreme ends are never used and a waste, it feels like Bilstein did away with this and gave you adjustment in the window it was intended for, clubsport use.

What I wanted was a high quality, double adjustable monotube setup that was built like a tank. I don’t want a shock with super low friction seals to prevent hysteresis, because I don't want to rebuild shocks every couple seasons because of leaking oil. I wanted something that was valved for track focused work (600-1000# range), but still streetable with good reliability.

I have Ohlins on my Miata (and my previous 997 GT3RS), and JRZ RS Pro Doubles on my Cayman for a few years now, and these Bilsteins easily bridge the gap, both in performance and price. I always wanted to try these, as they don't seem to be used very often, and I'm not sure why. Had they offered a Clubsport kit for either my Miata or Cayman, I would have bought it. While I think similar shocks from smaller type companies (Ohlins isn't small IMO) are perfectly fine, in fact outstanding, what I don't like is their sometimes lack of robustness. It's nothing against them, but all too often I see the "high end" dampers leaking shock oil, or needing gas charges even sooner than they probably should. Sure, there is a tradeoff in service life for ultimate performance, but after I've had the opportunity over the years to use different shocks, you learn to appreciate really good performance with low maintenance....just as much as outstanding performance with high maintenance. My JRZ's are great, I just wouldn't daily on them, or puts tons of street miles on them, that's just me though.

For the price, which falls well below the cost of some of the other "high end" double adjustable setups, I think the Bilsteins are a great shock, and probably very underrated. Despite the stiffer springs, endlinks and monoballs/camber plates, the car is dead quiet. No rattles, no squeaks. Feels like a clubsport factory kit...that's how I can best describe it. As if this is how it would come from the factory.

Sure, you can buy a set of Ohlins DFV, re-valve them and spring them for 600-1000, but it's still a single adjustable, and sometimes for the really high spring rates, the DFV actually causes some issues (plus compression adjustment would be nice). Then there are KW Clubsports which everybody uses because that's what BMW put on the GTS...but they are twin-tubes. I prefer monotubes. So does the vast majority of the motorsport industry. Plenty of other monotubes in the range as well, like MCS or Nitrons, all good too, but I just feel like everytime I use Bilstein, they just work. Whether it's on my F350 tow vehicle, or my M3, or as an OE shock on a Porsche, they just work, well in fact.

Long and short, I think people sometimes forget just how good the Bilsteins are, and these are very similar to the MDS full motorsport shocks, which are pretty much aluminum threaded bodied versions of clubsports. No they aren't super light, or have trick features, or have tons of "fancy" marketing pizazz...but what they do have is tried and true track/motorsport performance, with a super long service life.

More to come as I get them sorted on track.

The build so far is:

• Bilstein Clubsports
• Turner subframe bushings
• Powerflex differential bushings
• Sway bars F&R (hotchkis)
• AP Racing CP9660 brake kit
• Front control arm monoballs
• New wheels and tires (Trofeo and Apex)
• Wheel Studs
• CSF Oil cooler
• CSF Radiator
• CSF Power steering cooler
• Schroth Quick fit harness
• Rear exhaust section (V2 MPE)
• Front and Rear Brake cooling ducts
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      02-15-2017, 11:41 PM   #2
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Any pictures of the shocks?
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      02-16-2017, 10:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rzm3 View Post
Any pictures of the shocks?
This is exactly what they look like. I actually like the integrated helper/tender spring for the rear setup. It's an 800lb spring, but also provides a little more compliant ride on street for that very initial bit of travel, or when it totally unloads. Same as stock 997.1 GT3/RS. Simple, but effective. Quiet too....no clanking from springs totally unweighting. Camber plate is pretty simple, but again, effective, built like a tank. I can always buy another camber plate if I decide I want something with more features. Endlinks are sized perfectly for use with stock or adjustable swaybar. Don't be frightened by the MSRP most places list, I haggled with a few vendors, and you can find the setup for just over $4K.

The cost for this kit is all wrapped up in their double adjustable piston rod and adjuster, which comes straight from the MDS motorsport shocks. These are fully serviceable/rebuildable, and can also be turned into a full coilover rear, or upgraded to low friction seals...ala MDS, or typical of other "race" dampers, but that kinda defeats the purpose of a dual purpose clubsport shock.

I think the issue with Bilstein is that unlike lots of other vendors who sell (and market) directly with consumers (even directly in the forums), Bilstein only works through distributors, so they get a lot less "hype". A lot of vendors sometimes push and sell what products they get good distributor pricing for, or who they know. Like I said, not saying this is better or worse than other options, I'm just saying this should to be an option that more people look at......

I was impressed at their use in F80 M4 world by the German tuner, Lightweight, who are setting crazy fast production car lap times using Bilstein Clubsports. They have a 520hp M4 lapping as fast as a 991 GT3 on same tires, using Clubsports. Another tuner, Versus, has a similar car, but on KW Clubsports, 40hp more, and wider Trofeo R's (which are stickier than Sport Cup 2's) still could not match the time of the Lightweight car with same driver, despite these advantages of grip and power. That tells me the handling/setup was better with the Bilsteins. It's pretty well known that Trofeo-R tires are worth about 1-2 seconds a lap over Sport Cup 2's.....and that doesn't even take into account the power advantage.

http://www.bmwtuningmag.com/m4-clubsport-evo-bilstein/
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      02-16-2017, 05:13 PM   #4
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very interesting! I like these, but they cost the same as a MCS setup

I have had extremely good experiences with every Bilstein I've used. I'm on my fourth car with the Bilstein B12 kit and it's great. I can only imagine these are way better!
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      02-16-2017, 05:27 PM   #5
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Nice initial review. Interested to hear your track feedback. And you had a 997GT3 RS!!?? wow. awesome, what happened to that beast.
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      02-16-2017, 05:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elim11 View Post
Nice initial review. Interested to hear your track feedback. And you had a 997GT3 RS!!?? wow. awesome, what happened to that beast.
My guess is he sold it for the E92 M3 and the Cayman S.
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      02-16-2017, 07:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
very interesting! I like these, but they cost the same as a MCS setup

I have had extremely good experiences with every Bilstein I've used. I'm on my fourth car with the Bilstein B12 kit and it's great. I can only imagine these are way better!

Yeah, but I'm not sure the MCS 2-ways are really any better. I'm sure MCS will say they are. What I find is that all smaller companies try to find ways to differentiate themselves, and in the process, they all do certain things better or worse. It's a great shock, I've been in a few cars with them, and they felt great, but so did other 2-way monotube dampers I've been on for the similar prices.

I've been wanting to try these shocks for years, and now was the perfect time to give them a go. I'll be getting to the track very soon!

I have no bias or reason to like them anymore than others. The application guide for these seems pretty narrow...Bilstein only offers clubsports for a select few cars. I'm just posting as much as I can about them, so that the next person who tries to research information about them will find more than I did!

All signs point to good things thus far though...
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      02-17-2017, 09:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mvez View Post
Yeah, but I'm not sure the MCS 2-ways are really any better. I'm sure MCS will say they are. What I find is that all smaller companies try to find ways to differentiate themselves, and in the process, they all do certain things better or worse. It's a great shock, I've been in a few cars with them, and they felt great, but so did other 2-way monotube dampers I've been on for the similar prices.

I've been wanting to try these shocks for years, and now was the perfect time to give them a go. I'll be getting to the track very soon!

I have no bias or reason to like them anymore than others. The application guide for these seems pretty narrow...Bilstein only offers clubsports for a select few cars. I'm just posting as much as I can about them, so that the next person who tries to research information about them will find more than I did!

All signs point to good things thus far though...
That's a good point.

I have MCS on one car and JRZ on the other, but the truth is that I've been very happy with Bilsteins on all my street cars so I can only imagine these are way, way better.

Please post as much as you can about the setup!
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      02-17-2017, 10:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
That's a good point.

I have MCS on one car and JRZ on the other, but the truth is that I've been very happy with Bilsteins on all my street cars so I can only imagine these are way, way better.

Please post as much as you can about the setup!
You have lucky cars! Will do.

While my JRZ remotes are awesome, in the past the service was spotty, and the fact that JRZ USA keeps virtually zero parts in-stock in the USA has been our gripe with all the local cars on them. Things seem to be better now though. One thing I will say the JRZ's do is handle bumps amazingly well.....that is their nitch......

I've heard great things about MCS service, and if I ever upgrade my Miata to double adjustables, I'll likely give them a try. We also enduro our PTE build cars for fun (in AER/WRL), so we want to run shocks that perform, but also are uber reliable.
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      02-17-2017, 11:12 AM   #10
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thanks for the write up!
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      02-17-2017, 12:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mvez
Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
That's a good point.

I have MCS on one car and JRZ on the other, but the truth is that I've been very happy with Bilsteins on all my street cars so I can only imagine these are way, way better.

Please post as much as you can about the setup!
You have lucky cars! Will do.

While my JRZ remotes are awesome, in the past the service was spotty, and the fact that JRZ USA keeps virtually zero parts in-stock in the USA has been our gripe with all the local cars on them. Things seem to be better now though. One thing I will say the JRZ's do is handle bumps amazingly well.....that is their nitch......

I've heard great things about MCS service, and if I ever upgrade my Miata to double adjustables, I'll likely give them a try. We also enduro our PTE build cars for fun (in AER/WRL), so we want to run shocks that perform, but also are uber reliable.
FYI I have a friend selling double adj remote MCS for a Miata.
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      02-17-2017, 12:58 PM   #12
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My MCS 2 way remotes went many years and 40k plus miles with no leaks and absolutely no N2 leakage in between checks. Just my anecdote that MCS have potential to have long street service life as well but it's only an anecdote and mcs requires you to source your own mounts springs yada

And Lex is just the best.

Bilstein is hard to beat for infrastructure/support I wish Koni would do an FSD kit for our cars. Could make some of their rear shocks work but a front strut would be a challenge to bodge together
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      02-24-2017, 02:53 PM   #13
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It's cool to see someone else on a set of Bilstein CS. Honestly I would have never considered the coilovers, but it came installed on my E36 M3. Easily the best daily driving coilover comfort-wise..and still super capable. Most people, myself included, would look to MCS JRZ Moton Nitron for $8k+ But these Bilsteins are in a whole different league than their entry to mid level setups.
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      02-26-2017, 04:16 PM   #14
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Sounds like you have a really nice set up and a complete suspension system. I'm on my fourth set of JRZ shocks and struts, but only because their customer service has been so good. I don't know, I sort of feel like a Beta-tester as I'm only getting about 18-20,000 miles out of set before they become a rattling can of rocks. I have their RS double adjustable with bump stops now (they have upgraded me over time), so far so good but only a few thousand miles on them.
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      02-27-2017, 06:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VictorH View Post
Sounds like you have a really nice set up and a complete suspension system. I'm on my fourth set of JRZ shocks and struts, but only because their customer service has been so good. I don't know, I sort of feel like a Beta-tester as I'm only getting about 18-20,000 miles out of set before they become a rattling can of rocks. I have their RS double adjustable with bump stops now (they have upgraded me over time), so far so good but only a few thousand miles on them.
LOL, I think everybody felt that way until more recently. It's a great shock, I guess that's why we put up with these niggles....but I hear there is much better product consistency, and now they include bumpstops . I remember bitching at them when I got my Pro's a couple years ago and they didn't even include external bumpstops. For 8K, I expect more, seriously. They know Cayman's have a serious rear shock travel limitation, and then send out 8K shocks that can potentially crash metal on metal. Just Silly. This is just the difference between a boutique race shock company, and bigger companies like Ohlins, Bilstein, KW, etc. who engineer bumpstops into the package and as part of the spring rate equation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shrimp_chips View Post
It's cool to see someone else on a set of Bilstein CS. Honestly I would have never considered the coilovers, but it came installed on my E36 M3. Easily the best daily driving coilover comfort-wise..and still super capable. Most people, myself included, would look to MCS JRZ Moton Nitron for $8k+ But these Bilsteins are in a whole different league than their entry to mid level setups.
2 weeks later, and more miles and still no complaints. Car drives every bit as good as Ohlins and JRZ on street...with similar spring rates. Has that very typical Bilstein "firm" ride, but very controlled. In a big heavy car like M3, I actually prefer it.

Should be at the track in a couple weeks to fully sort the alignment and shock settings. I expect to be equally impressed there as well.
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      03-30-2017, 03:41 PM   #16
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Follow up after initial track setup:

Guys, these clubsports are fantastic. The damping quality they give this big heavy car is outstanding. Clicks are noticeable, but not big swings, so you can fine tune.

I'm still in the 4-7 range (out of 10) for all rebound and compression settings (on Trofeo-R), which means there is still plenty of room for more adjustment and will easily handle full slicks if desired. But right out of the box I was VERY happy with them, and their performance. I didn't want to make any bar changes at the track while playing with the shock settings, so I could get a good feel on how the chassis reacts. I was fighting a bit of understeer and was very pleased to see that I could still dial alot of it out with just shocks. Typically shocks are the final, fine tuning point after your bars are set. After I stiffen up the rear bar, and re-set the rear shocks, the car will be perfecto.

They have that great Bilstein control, where you can take curbs and the car just absorbs them without upsetting the chassis, but you still have that firm direct seat of pants feel, which I like.

What a great car though. It definitely takes some work, but the right mods make this a really fun car on track, and fast. I was very pleased with the lap times I was able to lay down on the first day. It's a shame Bilstein doesn't offer Clubsports for more models......this car is a total sleeper and is going to bruise some egos.
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      04-04-2017, 04:32 PM   #17
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Congrats on the setup and thanks for reporting back! I agree, it is cool that the Clubsports are offered on this platform, we're lucky to have so many good choices.
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      04-04-2017, 04:50 PM   #18
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What are your tire/wheel specs? Specifically Wondering if 18x10 +25 will clear up front
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      04-04-2017, 06:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
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What are your tire/wheel specs? Specifically Wondering if 18x10 +25 will clear up front
They will clear, but with a 3-5mm spacer. I'm running a 5mm just for extra room, no big deal.
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      04-06-2017, 11:42 AM   #20
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A few more comments regarding the general setup, etc. etc.

Setup:

600# F, 800# R springs
-3F, -2R camber
0 deg toe front, .05 deg rear each side
Lots of rake, about 23" ride height both ends (18" tires)
245-40-18 F, 265-40-18 R, Trofeo-R's.
Swaybars (hotchkis) F- 2 of 4 (soft middle), R- 2 of 3 (middle)

Although I'm running a staggered tire setup, for no other reason than to preserve the street driving quality (no tramlining, etc.), the car still turns just fine. I pick up some understeer (about mid-way through a normal ~25 minute session) as the front tires get too hot, but some of that was learning the Trofeo's, and I was running them too high PSI up front....around 36 all around. The front needs to be 32-34, and rear needs to be about 34-36 hot.

Also, I'm going to put the rear bar on full stiff, and adjust shocks more next week, and this should help keep the car balanced all through the session. In fact, my buddy who is also a very good motorsport setup guy, gave the exact same analysis as I did after he drove the car. He thought the car had great balance until the got front tires too hot. I think ultimately, yes, I need to "take" a little grip away from the rear to help keep the front tires underneath the car, but that is fine. In no way did I feel like the car was "under tired" on a 265, with these sticky Trofeos. I could have been a lot faster had I not been waiting on the front of the car, waiting to get back to throttle. If I could rotate the rear more quickly, can get to throttle sooner, and ultimately be faster, all while preserving more front tire.

Sure, I can slap on more front tire (square setup), but that's not always needed. I don't want to lower the ride heights any further, or destroy the nice light weighting of the wheel. I also don't want to swap wheels. In short, my goal is to make a staggered tire setup work, without understeer, which clearly can be done with the help of an adjustable rear swaybar. I'm making this car truly a "jump in and go to the track" car.

However, if you have solid rear subframe bushings, I have no idea, even with a square setup, how people track this car without an adjustable rear swaybar. On my E46 with square 275 setup, I still ran the rear turner bars on full stiff. This E92 chassis feels no different to me, albeit a much stiffer chassis shell. Not having that adjustment at the rear of the car is a real disservice to yourself.

Regarding tires....guys, these Trofeo-R's are the real deal. They are sticky, but still offer a lot of feel. They aren't cheap, but you get what you pay for. Hands down the very best track tire that can be driven to the track, and I like that they come in stock 18" sizes for the car. And if absolutely needed, I could always use a 265-35-18 front, for a square width setup (not diameter). I like to run my cars with staggered tire diameters (with exception of a miata). The rake helps the car turn, and the taller rear tire adds progressiveness to the rear, so you can really stiffen the chassis up to add balance. Shorter front diameter gives steering great response. Just my preference.

I'll follow up after next week's test of the new chassis settings. I think it's going to be just about right
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      04-06-2017, 01:29 PM   #21
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Super interesting info.

I did not get your comment about the solid rear subframe bushings and the adjustable sway.

I got the Hotchins bars myself and will install them soon along with the MCS. I have no clue about setup though. This looks promising hehe

Interesting review of the Trofeo Rs. I thought the fastest 'street' tire was the RE71. It's around $1300/set vs the ~$1500 for this. It's interesting though, they have a 295 18" tire that fits my square 10.5" wheels that may be quite interesting for track use

I've always run a square setup, basically because I have dedicated track wheels and 10.5" fits both the front and the rear of the car. If I could fit an 11" I would and then it would be staggered, but I can't just yet.
For street driving, 10.5 square sucks. I swap wheels after track days if I'm going to drive on the street
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      04-06-2017, 04:29 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
Super interesting info.

I did not get your comment about the solid rear subframe bushings and the adjustable sway.

I got the Hotchins bars myself and will install them soon along with the MCS. I have no clue about setup though. This looks promising hehe

Interesting review of the Trofeo Rs. I thought the fastest 'street' tire was the RE71. It's around $1300/set vs the ~$1500 for this. It's interesting though, they have a 295 18" tire that fits my square 10.5" wheels that may be quite interesting for track use

I've always run a square setup, basically because I have dedicated track wheels and 10.5" fits both the front and the rear of the car. If I could fit an 11" I would and then it would be staggered, but I can't just yet.
For street driving, 10.5 square sucks. I swap wheels after track days if I'm going to drive on the street
When you install solid rear subframe bushings, you actually soften the rear suspension, because now there is less flex and the damper and springs are doing more of the work. The car becomes more compliant. For example, on my E46, I had already installed my whole track setup, except subs....but the moment I replaced the stock subs with solid, the rear of the car gained grip and I needed to stiffen the rear bar in order to get the previous balance back.

No different with the E92. When you remove the slop of the subframe, the damper and springs are able to do more of the work, and thus, typically the car will gain grip. I think this is why many people who have a front only bar, also only have stock subframe bushings, and don't seem to complain as much about the handling.

The hotchkis bars are great. FYI - to get "stock" swaybar handling bias with the hotchkis, you will want to set them at (from soft) front hole 2 and the rear at hole 2. That's what I did, and adjust from there. With square setup, and similar spring rates, you likely won't need full stiff rear.

I totally get the square setup, it works and is great, I'm just taking the path of greater resistance to good handling. AKA lazy. I literally don't want to change wheels for this car. Hop in and go is all I want! Then at most, turn some shock knobs or a swaybar setting at the track.

I call a "street" tire anything with tread that can be driven, so tires like Micheline Pilot Sport Cup 2, Trofeo-R's fall in that category. While the RE71 does offer Nitto NT01 like performance, the Trofeo-R is in a category by itself, with the Sport Cup 2 not too far behind. It's uncanny how much this tire grips.
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'18 GT3 - 6MT (Dec. build date)
'13 E92 M3 - street/track
'07 Cayman S - track car
'00 Miata - racecar
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