I finally got an opportunity to run the A700L yesterday. Here are my thoughts:
Our current layout is the same
as we had at MHIC, though the grip is lower. I've put down many thousands of laps on this layout, mostly with a T4 but some with a 417X as well.
I couldn't decide on a setup, so I created my own. My goal was to use as many different colored shims as possible so that my car would look like an anodized rainbow. Once I got it on the track, I made a few changes. Most notably, removing the sway bars and all the optional flex screws from the bottom of the chassis. By the end of the night, I had beat all of my best times set by either of my other cars, went faster in the main than all 3 13.5 A-mains's from MHIC, and missed Art's track record by .2. In traffic. And traction was crappier than usual last night since summer turnouts are always on the low side. There's certainly more time to be found through coming up with a meaningful setup.
The car turned like a car should turn, and the rear gripped well enough to get it around the track easily. I would like it to rotate harder, and not want to spin out at the end of the sweeper, but those are the sort of things that work themselves out with more grip and a setup that isn't based on clown shoes. I didn't hit anything all night, the car was ridiculously predictable and easy to drive on a night where my other cars would have struggled with the traction.
I've often wondered, and am now convinced: Shaft drive is undeniably faster in spec classes. It was pretty stunning to me how fast and hard the car would leap out of the turns. I could see it in every corner. Other people could see it as well. I felt like I was able to get back into the power faster than other people, and hold more power through sweeping sections.
There's a corner on our track around the first pole (we call it "Rick Hohwart corner" after MHIC) where you're almost full speed, and then make a hard left turn into a short section, so that you've got a ton of weight transferred to the outside of the car. You can see it in the video if you're interested. Anyway, with the T4 and the 417, the cars would often get unsettled there if you didn't lift because they would roll over too much. With the A700L, it's like that turn wasn't even there. I just glided through with as much speed as I wanted. And the way the car transitions through fast sections is stunning. Chicanes have never felt so effortless.
Complete strangers visiting our track (local off-road guys) came up to me asking about the car, saying it looked amazing on the track. Nobody ever says my cars look amazing, or even good. I drive in deep, brake, drive out hard. It's an ugly style, I get it. But not with this car, I was able to drive easy and smooth, and went faster when I did.
Do I sound convinced? I am. I've driven a lot of cars. I feel like I've been on a quest for years now to find one that has the right feel on the track. A car that complements the way I like to drive. It's still early, after all, I've only driven the car in a single club race, but it certainly feels like I'm finally moving in the right direction.