After looking through all the results from this seasons time trial competitions, the 3 factors that had the biggest effect on a driver's competitiveness locally was:
Vehicles weight to power ratio
The most skilled drivers usually found themselves on or near the podium at the events this year. No surprises here. More seat time is the answer for most looking to get quicker. Autocross takes a while to get fast at!
There are books to read and online courses you can do over the winter to speed up the learning process. Check out Beyond Seat Time to get you started.
People using over 200TW rated tires were at a disadvantage, which was expected. The difference in performance between 200TW, 100TW and slicks was not a factor locally. As some found out, racing slicks and 100TW tires are not any faster than a 200TW tire for these events. Sometimes even slower! You can’t get enough heat into the lower TW tires to gain any advantage from them.
The fastest tires were the Super 200’s, which is a group of ultra grippy 200TW rated tires. Most seemed to prefer the Bridgestone RE71RS over the others here locally. The only tire that will give you any significant advantage at these events over a Super 200, and is still DOT approved, is a Hoosier A7. However, using these would be very expensive (price to buy + wear out very quickly) and will bump you into the fastest class. Not to mention if it rains, any advantage is gone.
A simple switch to a better tire this season should jump you up a few positions. Going from a 280TW+ tire to a 200TW tire could shave off 2-3 seconds off your time, while going from an endurance 200TW tire (Hankook RS4) to a Super 200 (Bridgestone RE71RS) will nearly shave off another second.
Read through Grassroots Motorsports ultimate track tire guide before you decide on which tires to buy.
Weight to Power Ratio
This really showed up as a major factor, especially at the StratoAttack events. This was the main focus when re-working the classing for the 2024 season.
If you're looking to gain some advantage here without the risk of getting bumped up a class, getting a tune will be your best place to start.
There you have it, the 3 things that you can do to kick some ass for next season! Study up on driving techniques, get a set of Super 200TW tires, and get a tune! If that doesn't work, try bribing the timing person (Snacks accepted)
Other worthy mentions:
Brake Pads - if you're running non performance brake pads & old brake fluid, an upgrade should be in order.
Suspension - if your car has a ton of body roll or a clapped out suspension, a few upgrades and a track focused alignment could really make a difference.