AP Racing brakes, making a fast Evo faster04.11.2014
We recently sent out a survey asking for customer feedback on our Essex Designed AP Racing Competition Big Brake Kits. This particular customer is a 10 year track veteran running our Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Competition Big Brake Kit. He's had the kit on for a couple of seasons now, and has taken home some victories with it. Here's what he had to say about it:
Your experience level & driving history
I've been driving and instructing for the past 9 years, mostly with NASA, PCA, and occasionally Chin events. My Evo started out as my "poor man's porsche killer" in 2007 I got it new. Then I turned it into a dedicated race car in late 2009 because I didn't feel safe at those speeds anymore. It's been all over the country from Hallett to Road Atlanta to Sebring and everything in between and is one of my favorite track cars because of it's versatility in any condition. Currently I compete in Super Touring 3 racing with the NASA southeast region.
How has the brake kit changed your driving experience?
I can now brake with confidence in every corner and every passing situation, which is a HUGE improvement in the fear factor that most drivers face. Knowing that the AP racing history and product quality is under your heel is usually enough, but to actually feel the difference over the entire race/session makes you wonder - why the heck didn't Essex build this sooner ;)
Problems that the brake kit solved (e.g.- pad fade, disc cracking, soft pedal, etc.)
As some may know, the Evo comes standard with "brembo" brakes. However these are not your off the shelf racing brakes but more of a semi-functional street version. The issues people first have is turning the red brembo, into what we call a "brownbo." This is due to extremely high caliper temperatures because of the speeds the Evo is capable of, and attempting to slow down from, out of the box. As you get faster and faster the seals start to disintegrate, paint peels, serious pad knocking and eventually you will notice severe pad taper regardless of what pad you run. All of this doesn't inspire much confidence, especially when your trying to outbreak less aerodynamically challenged cars in a race.
Favorite product feature
Pad price and selection would have to be a fav "feature" because it's far less cumbersome as it used to be to look up and fork out $$$ for the stock Brembo pads
Comparison to other products you’ve tried in the past
I've driven and rode along in several cars setup similarly which have had Stoptechs, Alcon's etc which are heavier in both feel and actual rotating weight.
Overall ownership experience...how easy it to live with?
Very easy. Every wheel combo I have or had thought of getting fits, the maintenance is a breeze, and I no longer have to worry about sour looks when people see AP under the wheel instead of a peeling former brembo caliper.
Customer service by Essex before and after initial sale
Essex has offered a far superior customer experience then about any racing vendor I've had to deal with. Jeff and the sales team offer up the patience and experience necessary to support such a crucial racing component.
Documentation and ease of install
This is documented in this EvoM thread (I'm Balrok), but yes, piece of cake. I mistakenly installed a duct between the upright and caliper bracket, but Mike from Essex got back to me immediately and got me sorted in time to save my race day.
Would you buy it again, and would you recommend it to a friend?
Without question and several have already taken the leap with even better feedback. A serious upgrade from the Brembo's. No paint fade, not screws to break off, no super expensive pads, no damn dust boots (I mean debris), runs cooler with just a 2 inch duct, Super easy to maintain, Super consistent and reliable pedal = WIN, and one of the best performing rotors i've tested. And the most important part, SUPERIOR customer service. It's not some retail store that sells parts, it's the actual racers and engineers you deal with when on the phone.
Anything about the product that you think could be improved?
The disc rattling was a bit excessive, even on a fully dedicated race car, but Essex has since resolved that issue with the addition of float control clips on the rotor hat in all of their kits as standard. Now after owning it for some time I've noticed whats starting to rust which are the black hex bolt heads. The stainless backing nuts on the hat are fine, but the bolts themselves, and the bolts which attach the caliper to the adapter are showing semi-significant surface rust. Not a huge problem as it's not penetrating but doing rotor changes required the use of PB blaster this last round.
(Editors note: We have solved this issue. The hardware that Essex is using to attach the hat to the disc is now zinc coated, rather than the black oxide used in our earlier kits).
Race or event wins on our brake kit
4 wins, 2 second places, 1 third. The kit saves money, but racing and keeping the rest of the car from breaking down still costs money ;)