Another Day at the Track

Sunday David and I drove out to Harris Hill Road yet again. I had two main goals for this trip. I wanted to practice my 2/3 line and work on my car setup with my ridiculous 400 treadwear rating street tires. It didn’t take many laps for me to grow accustomed to the tighter entry into 2/3, which was probably a good thing, as it didn’t take many laps for those crappy tires to overheat. I softened the back shocks a few more clicks, just to further reduce the car’s sensitivity with the greasy feel of the too-hot tires. However, I learned that these tires have two stages of “too hot.” In the first stage, things get greasy and grip drops significantly. This is… tolerable. It’s annoying to have the lowered grip, but certainly easy to adjust to. But it’s clear the tires are not designed for this kind of treatment. Just a few laps into the greasy feel, things worsen. The tires become unpredictable. In one corner, I’ll have some grip. In another corner, I’ll have no front grip at all. Yet another time, the back of the car will just do its own thing, and it takes everything I can do to make sure the car stays pointed basically the right direction.

I had two offs on Sunday. One was two wheels off. The car just couldn’t hold the line and drifted out just a bit too far. The front tires just did not have grip. With just two tires off, I easily brought the car back on in an appropriate spot, no damage done. The other time, I was going through a rather fast kink and yet again, the front tires just didn’t want to do a thing. I had no control over the direction I was going, so I just braked hard, scrubbing as much speed as I could before I hit dirt. The car hit the dirt fairly slowly and pointed forward, I was alone on track so I came back on, and I checked out the car. Yet again, no damage done.

I also learned that a few slow laps is not enough to get these tires to cool down. After two gentle laps, they were just as unpredictable as they were immediately after four hot laps. These tires did decently enough on a wet surface, but give them a dry track and they just overheat. I need to get some good track tires on my 16″ wheels.

David had brought out the GT3 RS. We went out together, with me behind the wheel, to show him some of the new lines I was trying. I got in a few fun laps and then gave the reins back to David. Later in the afternoon, after giving up on my tires, I asked for another chance. David let me out there on my own.

I was completely alone. It was GT3 RS, 1.8 miles of track, and me.

I could have stayed out there until the tank was dry (and almost did). Having David in the car calms me down a bit. I’m less aggressive. When I was alone out there, without even another car for distraction, I could really play. I played with a few different lines and a few different shift points. I played with the car’s rotation. I played with the brakes. And I learned a few things. I learned that the car wants to be downshifted in the hairpin, not because it needs the torque to pull it out of the corner, but because it needs the engine drag to rotate it at the beginning. With some good engine drag from high revs in second gear, the car rotates easily and at a relatively high speed. Rolling on the throttle gently straightens the car back out and plants the back tires. I can reach full throttle early and hold it. The shift to third is made with some lateral load on the car, but even so, it was easy to make it smooth. With the power of the GT3′s engine, it surged through 3rd gear quickly, and I was back up to 8,000 rpm before braking down for corner 1.

The GT3 RS is an amazingly capable car. I’m eager for more track time in it, and I’m eager to see David build his confidence and use more and more of that car’s abilities. We have another track weekend coming up soon, at TWS, and I’m eager to hear the speeds David can reach on the big straight.

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