When Opak Racing contacted the TOV inviting us to visit them in NorCal, they knew exactly what they were doing. While plant tours and editorial interviews are a staple of automotive reporting, what really gets the journalistic juices flowing are test drives. And when that test drive involves a race car on one of the most challenging tracks in the United States, well that's like skipping dinner and going straight for that monstrous dessert!
Clearly Opak Racing understood this, because they offered me seat time in their Opak Racing/Spoon Sports Integra Type-R. Mind you, this is not the old school DC2 Type-R. Nope, its an original JDM, right hand drive DC5 Type-R. Oh yeah, baby, that's the stuff! Furthermore, this car is prepped for the track. Full race seats and harnesses, a roll cage, stripped interior (although it retains the dash and door skins - how civil), fuel cell, the works. And its topped off by that distinctive blue and yellow Spoon paint scheme. Last time I sat in a Spoon car it was their circuit racing S2000, but I got to do one lap around the parking lot and that was it, this time I brought my track gear along because we were going to DRIVE.
The DC5 is Opak's first completely in house effort. While Opak's Alan Sensier did much of the local setup work on the 25 Hours of Thunderhill class winning Euro-R, the car was actually built by Spoon. The DC5 has been Alan's baby from the beginning though, and it shows an excruciating attention to detail, from the underhood paint to the suspension setup, and everywhere in between. The engine remained basically stock, utilizing a Spoon ECU and Mugen racing exhaust. This approach has been traditional Spoon Sports fare for endurance racing - let Honda's good work stand on its own and focus on making the car handle well and last. The tranny utilized an Spoon clutch type 1.5 way limited slip to improve traction. The shifter itself is completely stock.
On the chassis, fully custom adjustable Showa/Spoon struts and Swift springs combine to lower the car substantially, as you can see in the photos. Now, historically on the DC5 and EP3 chassis, that much of a drop has wreaked havoc on the handling, but Opak reversed the steering linkages to improve the toe curve. Did it work? We'll tell you in a minute. The Bridgestone DOT legal race tires run about 6 degrees negative camber in the front and about 3 degrees in the rear. We couldn't get any more out of Alan, but those camber numbers ought to tell a number of DC5 enthusiasts here in the States that their setup might need some changing. The car is stopped by Spoon monoblock calipers using Spoon racing pads. A Spoon roll cage, Fuel Safe fuel cell and Takata FIA harnesses keep everyone safe and in control.