Well now, just a little update here on the new sled and the ongoing autocross adventures.
Let me start by saying "wow". The new S550 is really something special compared to the old S197. I had spent a lot of time and effort setting up the old S197 and out of the box, the S550 is simply superior for this type of driving.
The power plant between the 2011 GT/CS and the 2016 GT PP is close enough to the same as to be the same. Throttle response, power band, etc... feel very similar but that is where the similarities end.
The breaks on the new PP are nothing short of amazing. I have to unlearn years of early break points and see just how much deeper into a corner I can push before breaking. The new breaks are so good that I haven't found that point yet. I did however register a .98G break point on more than one occasion.
Along with better breaks, the suspension in general is vastly improved. Rough areas that would have unsettled the S197 were handled with aplomb. The car is very well balanced and responds much faster and more predictably to driver inputs. Tight corners that would have resulted in massive understeer in the S197 simply didn't in the S550. Rapid transitions were also less of an issue.
Most shocking of all, the factory Pirelli P Zeros are actually rather good on the S550. While not as sticky as the Hankook RS3 v2 I ran last year, they performed very well. These same tires on my S197 were terrible. Give them a little camber though, and these tires come alive. I had planned on immediately switching to the Bridgestones but will be running these for the immediate future as I learn this car better. For what its worth, both Harry's Lap Timer and Track Apps registered 1.00G L and 1.04G R during today's runs and there is more on the table.
The Hankooks are still better at rapid transitions but for a 220 TW tire, the Pirellis are not at all embarrassed, particularly in steady state corners.
Using the local F-Street competition as my yardstick drivers from last year that I would have 1-3 seconds on, depending on the course, were 3-5 seconds back today. The gap between the S197 and the CAM guys likewise narrowed to within 2 seconds on this particular course. This isn't the same kind of measure s the CAM guys seem to change things from event to event so it is more difficult to track against them, but there is an S550 in CAM so I do kind of gauge on him a bit.
All in all, Ford has managed to do something pretty impressive here. Even with the added weight, the S500 PP out of the box is very very good. Through the course of today's event I kept pushing harder and harder past the limits of the old S197 thinking I would find the new limits easily. I didn't. I am pleasantly surprised that I was unable to find the upper bounds today. Over 7 runs I was able to drop .5 to 1 second consistently each run. The first run would have been a 9/10 in the old car but apparently was more of a 6-7/10 in the new.
I am impressed.