Pro Level Polyphony Digital Cup This series is going to annoy me a bit, if the usual AI boost kicks in halfway through. Having to race in a stock car usually means unbalance at one end of the series or the other. I want to run the series in a minimal car so I have to be careful and earn the win. Plus, I'm trying to run prize cars I've never driven before just for variety. This is what's generating some of my criteria for selecting a car. Round Zero Pre-series experimentation I know from Der Alta's writeup that the Evo VII can do it, and I have a virgin one waiting. But I'm bored with Evos. I've got a couple Skylines that will be more than up to the task - snore. The NSX-zero will be overkill. The RX-8 handles like a dream but it has no torque and I'm worried about what will happen as my HP goes down and the AI's goes up. I decided to try the Camaro SS, because it is just like my sister's real car. It ran decently but fell way behind the AI NSX-zero, and I couldn't make the whole race without pitting. Tried again, this time in the NSX-R, which has 20 less hp than the NSX-zero. I was massacring the field in both speed and tire wear when I quit after 12 laps of the first race - still too easy, and besides, I already have a lot of seat time in NSXs. Ultimately it was the NSX experience that made me determined to beat this series in a cheap American car. The NSX-R has 279 hp; the Camaro SS has 345 or so. Yet I couldn't begin to get the Camaro around Trial Mountain as fast as I could the NSX, and the tire wear was much worse in the Chevy. The NSX is a nice car without doubt, but it's just not that nice. I'm determined to fight the yay Japan! bias as much as I can in the remainder of this game. The Viper GTS and Corvette Z06 will be overkill. I've got one option left: the Mustang Cobra R, even though I have to buy one and I've never driven it. So I bought one, changed the oil for 355 hp, and stocked T2 and T3 tires. With both sets of tires the bill came to about 55,000cr. Round One Trial Mountain Reverse - 20 laps Although I had used qualifying runs to sample the cars above, I didn't qualify the 'Stang. I put T3s on it and started from 6th, assuming (from my first try in the Camaro) they would last 10 laps. Nope. The fronts were shot by 7-8 laps and I wasn't fast enough to survive more than one pit stop (gee, thanks, PD). Quit again on the 12th lap and reload. This time the AI field is thus: Nissan Z Concept Supra RZ Camaro SS Cobra R R32 Skyline I would rather have had a field with some Evos to humble instead of the two American cars, but every one of those fields always included either the NSX-zero or the Z06. I don't think the Mustang can take either of those cars. With T2s on the car, I restarted from 6th. In another fit of gritty determination, I've got TCS at zero (I always run with ASM off). Consequently my launches are poor, and I fell back a few lengths at the start. As the tires warmed I began catching up, running the first lap or two about 5-7 seconds out of first place. The Z Concept took the lead after the first lap and widened it considerably. I had moved up to 4th position by lap 5 when the field started pitting, though the Z held on for another circuit before giving me the lead. I was in the first half of lap 7 when the Z came out of the pits about 4-5 seconds behind me. After a lap or so he was dogging me and around lap 9 he passed me to retake the lead. I pitted after lap 11, staying in second place but losing about 15 seconds. The Z pitted again after lap 12 but was still in front of me by about 4 seconds due to my still-cold tires. This time he didn't gain much and I went from 7 seconds down or so to 7 or 8 seconds up when he pitted after lap 18. He was just starting another run on me when I put in my 20th lap and took the checker. Margins: +7.556" Nissan Z Concept Total time: 33':40.224" Fast lap: 1':36.811" Average: 1':41.011" with pit on lap 11 The Z was my only competition. I had already passed the R32 and the other Mustang before they pitted, and they were on a 5-lap schedule anyway. The Camaro SS led early but pitted early, plus he got stuck at the pit entrance for a while. The RZ pitted every 6 laps like the Z but was not as fast. I'm a little worried that the margin was this small in the first race and was won mainly on pit strategy. The Cobra R is fun to drive. I don't mind a car that slides around a bit, as long as it's predictable, which this red Mustang is. It's a simple car and prefers you to make your control inputs one at a time so it can understand them. It understeers under heavy brakes, but trail braking lets the back end out and it transitions nicely to slight power-oversteer with careful throttle control. The stock suspension is under-sprung and under-damped, so I suspect that the race suspension could be added to devastating effect (as much as non-Japanese cars are allowed to be 'devastating', anyway). I absolutely love the howl of the square-cut gears, but the spacing is too wide, especially between 2-3, which is where you spend a lot of time. The final drive is also a little tall.