Tuesday, August 23, 2016

[8/19/2016] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Weather Conditions: 28°C, Sunny

What a perfect day for lapping with the HANSON school! The biggest win for me today was not from driving but figuring out the winning combination of motion sickness meds as an instructor/passenger. Behold the winning combination:

Scoplamine Patch + Sea Bands + Ginger Gravol
I doubt the Gravol did anything.

I ended up doing 3 sessions of lapping. I experimented with the left foot braking and found it didn't make as much of a difference as I thought it would. Perhaps I need more practice or I need to be more aggressive with keeping the throttle depressed. Getting LFB through T2 is just downright scary and I'm still having a lot of turbo lag through T5 with it. The fuel sloshing issue was still present below half tank which is why I had to cut my 2nd session short to re-fuel. We ran without the kink on the uphill which was an interesting change. It definitely helps my car relative to the others as I'm putting down more power, but I much prefer with the kink as it's more technical and challenging to drive.

Other than that, not much to report to be honest. It was just a great day of grinding out lap after lap and getting better at driving. My four year old Dunlop Direzza ZII's were also holding up incredibly well. I'm really starting to get more comfortable at the new DDT which is what I set out to accomplish this summer. Also I decided not to run the remainder of the CSCS series this year just because the rules make setting up my car very time consuming before each event in order to stay class legal. Perhaps I'll run in a different class next year. Anyway, enjoy the videos :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

[6/3/2016] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Weather Conditions: 20°C, Sunny

So many Subies!

My second time at DDT this year and third time driving the new layout in my WRX. Very motivated to improve upon my poor results at CSCS Round 1, my focus for the day was on getting the proper line through T2 and committing to optimizing gearing for the track. No personal bests would be broken on four year old Direzza ZII's but I had a few upgrades to my car that I was eager to try out:

Front Suspension & Alignment
I replaced the front HotBits DT2 that were lent to me by Can-Jam with the proper RCE T2 coilovers to match the rears. I also had an alignment done. The last time I had an alignment was in 2013 and apparently my settings were way off. The front of the car felt much better with the RCE T2's. I'm sure some of that was due to having a proper alignment, but I also felt that the RCE T2's soaked up bumps a bit better than the HotBits and were a bit more compliant overall.

DIY fuel slosh box but improvements are needed

Fuel Slosh Box
I made a slosh box around my fuel pump using a 32oz Dubro model airplane fuel tank and some check valves. However me being an idiot I installed the check valves backwards and ended up having to remove one of them due to fitment issues inside the fuel tank. Overall the slosh box helped a little bit. I was able to get down to 1/4 tank before noticing fuel starvation vs. the 1/2 tank previously. There is obviously room for improvement with my design but the whole thing was a PITA to install so I'm not really looking forward to doing this again.

Neetronics DCCD Settings
Besides calibrating the throttle position sensor (TPS), I also changed the throttle override trigger (TTRG) and lock-up condition (TOVR) to better suit my driving style. This fixed the driveline lash during part-throttle conditions and I'm about 90% happy with where the settings are currently. I think some finer tuning could be done on corner exit throttle conditions - I'm looking for just a hint more power oversteer so maybe I'll try increasing TTRG or reducing TOVR by 5-10% for next time.

In-Car Footage

1st lapping session

2nd lapping session

3rd lapping session with Peter as co-driver

4th session cut short due to 1/4 tank fuel cut

Slower Shifting
One of my biggest leaks has to be the frequent miss shifts that I make. Peter thinks I should slow down my shifts and I agree 100%. Quality over quantity. The time I save by shifting quickly is lost tenfold when I miss one. I'll need stay calm by practicing meditative breathing while driving, even though at times it feels like I'm strapped to the back of a cruise missile. This is also my reasoning behind holding 4th on the back straight rather than having to do a double downshift from 5th to 3rd into T18.

My 3rd revision of pace notes for CTMP DDT
LFB denoted areas are theoretical at the moment and untested

Left Foot Braking
Due to my large turbo I'm getting quite a bit of turbo lag coming out of some of the slower turns. In theory, on the turns that don't require downshifting, I can use left foot braking to keep the turbo spooled for a quicker exit. I think the turns I can apply LFB to are T2, T5, T7, and T15. It will take a lot of practice on the street before being comfortable enough to use on the track but it's a skill I definitely need to learn.

My next time attack event will CSCS Round 2 at TMP on June 26th. I'll try to fit in one more practice day to dial in my settings and get comfortable with left foot braking before then.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[5/15/2016] CSCS #1 (DDT)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #1
Track: Driver Development Track, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
Weather Conditions: 8°C Wet, Snowy (!), Overcast

I mentioned in a previous blog post that a return to time attack might happen. Well, it happened, and I picked one hell of a day to make a come back. Temps were frigid and we even had a mini-blizzard during morning practice!

"Lapping in the snow mother f***er!"

I had some seat time last summer but my last competition was back in 2013 and I haven't been actively practicing. When it comes to the new DDT layout, I must admit that I'm a newbie. This would be my second time driving the track so I had a lot of catching up to do. 

To my surprise, I won a Facebook contest with Race Lab and I was fortunate to have Crazy Leo himself ride along with me and give me some pointers during the morning practice. Leo really stressed the importance of attacking the curbs. This is something I was a big proponent of on the old DDT layout myself. 

I ran into several technical issues during the day which affected my performance during both qualifying and time attack:

1) Boost Cut - Because the air was so cold and dense, my car ended up over boosting a few times and I hit some pretty violent boost cut under full load. Luckily this only happened earlier on in the day and it resolved itself as it got warmer. But it's still something I'll need to have sorted out since this won't be my last cold track day.

2) Fuel Starvation - This has always been an issue with my car when running at 1/2 tank and lower. Because the fuel pump is positioned on the passenger side of the car, and there's a hump in the middle due to the AWD prop-shaft; hard right turns can result in fuel starvation. I experienced this several times on both the main straight and bottom straight. Before dropping big bucks on a fuel surge tank, I'm going to try a cheap DIY mod using a model airplane fuel tank as a baffle first.

3) DCCD - My car is equipped with a Neetronics DCCD controller and it wasn't set up properly. Since I removed the car battery during storage over the winter, I forgot to re-calibrate the throttle position sensor. Additionally, I think some finer tuning of the lock-up, particularly on braking, will be necessary. I found the car understeering quite badly especially through the high speed T2 despite heavy use of trail braking. I haven't played around much with the DCCD in the past, but this is definitely a tuning aspect of the car I need to learn.

4) Suspension - One of my RaceComp T2 front struts was leaking last year so I had to send it to KW for a rebuild. Can-Jam graciously lent me a spare set of HotBits DT2 coilovers for my fronts. But this meant I was running a different suspension front-to-rear. Obviously this is not an ideal setup and is only temporary, but it's something I'd like to get sorted out before the next event.

5) Brakes - I've fixed up my RooDucts brake duct cooling system which routes cool air from the fog light area into the wheel well area. But on a cold day this can be detrimental to a race pad since they need to be at a certain minimum operating temperature. I should have blocked the ducting off with my fog light covers but it totally slipped my mind. During the time attack video you can hear the pads squealing quite loudly - an indicator that they're not up to temperature. I believe this is what may have caused me to out-brake myself into T1 on my 3rd hot lap. The pedal was firm; I just had no stopping power.

Chasing down a fellow Can-Jam car piloted by B. Gray

On the plus side, the new Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's I just mounted were absolutely amazing. As a class rule we were limited to 245/40/17 size but compared to my old 255/40/17 Dunlop Direzza ZII's they actually had a wider footprint. I found these tires heated up very quickly and they even had decent grip during the wet/cold practice session. Once the track got remotely dry the car just felt planted, although the tire had to be run at a much lower pressure than usual. Because the tires heated up so quickly, they tended to get greasy after a few laps as well. While these "street" tires perform very much like an R-compound tire, I'm very interested in seeing how well they wear. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll last the entire season. 

I qualified in 3rd place with a time of 1:40.908 and finished the time attack 3rd with a time of 1:39.858. 

Despite the technical issues I was having throughout the day, the main reason I wasn't satisfied with 3rd place was simply because I didn't drive well. I mis-shifted on the exit of T2 during lap 1, completely missed the apex of T2 on lap 2, and lap 3 was invalidated because I completely missed the T1 braking zone (see issue #5). I also felt I could have used more of the track overall and possibly taken a wider line through the T9 downhill, and T14-T15 to improve exit speed onto the uphill straight. As a reference, last year when Richard Boake drove my car in the CSCS Round 1 opener at DDT, he posted a 1:33.157 on a very similar setup. If you assume a 1 second difference due to weather conditions, and the Trofeo R being on par with the RE-71R in the cold, then I'm still a whopping 5+ seconds off pace.

Completely missing the turn 2 apex

On the other hand, this leaves plenty of room for improvement. And a podium finish while not breaking anything to start the season off can never be a bad thing :)

Ok enough blogging for now. Time to hit the simulator.

Monday, January 25, 2016

2015 Goals in Review

Automotive Career

  • Succeed in new role - I feel I have a solid grasp of all the processes and now and can start focusing on gaining valuable product development experience.
  • Pass P.Eng exam - I wrote my exam in December and although I don't get my results until next month I'm confident that I passed.

Health and Fitness

  • Keep getting better at badminton - Results of training every week with Coach Lee are starting to show. I only played one club tournament this year and my brother and I managed to take home 1st in doubles. My singles game needs a lot of work though, as I lost every game.
  • Exercise 5 days per week - I had a couple weeks where I had to take breaks from this goal due to injury or studying. But overall I stuck to it pretty well. Leading up to the tournament in December I was active 5-6 days per week for ~2 months. Tiring, but worth it in the end.


  • Maintain Platinum Star for July+ - I maintained Platinum Star for 3 months but then fell behind once I decided to replace my poker time with studying for my P.Eng. 2015 was not a good year in terms of volume or winnings. I barely played much poker, and overall ended the year down $2.5k USD mostly due to spending a lot of time trying to learn a new game (PLO). I'll consider it tuition. PokerStars has significantly reduced their VIP rewards for 2016 and so for this year I've decided to focus on playing more live poker.
  • Stretch Goal: Did not achieve Supernova.


  • Attend 3+ track days - Went to two days at TMP for remote tuning with Sasha at OnPoint Dyno and we managed to get a nice safe power level with no signs of knock. Also did a day with the HANSON school and another at Grand Bend Motorplex with some friends. Overall it was nice to be back on track and I had a lot of fun battling other fast cars despite being a bit rusty. Looking forward to some more casual lapping days this year without breaking the bank.
  • Keep the shiny side up - Done!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

2015 Goals

This year so far has felt a bit lackluster in terms of overall direction because I haven't written down any goals to hold myself accountable for. So let's get started:

Automotive Career
There's a lot for me to learn in my new job as Product Development Engineer. Considering I spent the past 6+ years in a completely different line of business, there's going to be a bit of a learning curve here. The important thing is that I work on developing the skill set needed to succeed in this new position. Another thing I want to do this year is write the Professional Engineering exam so that I can become a licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario. I plan to submit my experience forms shortly and hopefully write the exams being held in December.
  • Succeed in new role
  • Pass P.Eng exam

Health and Fitness
I feel that I've struck a great balance with badminton and fitness that works for me. Currently I'm training once a week with my brother and play games on 2 other days. The remainder of the week is spent in my home gym doing StrongLifts 5x5 (2 days) and either light cardio or rest. If I can fit in exercise at least 5 days a week I'm happy. I'll be turning 30 this year but I won't let that stop me from being in the best shape I've ever been in.

  • Keep getting better at badminton
  • Exercise 5 days per week

I haven't played online at all this year but I'm feeling the itch to click buttons and make money again. Achieving Supernova in only 6 months will likely be impossible. But maintaining Platinum Star might be doable. I'll start small this month at 50NL and move up to 100NL once I feel comfortable.

How am I supposed to play poker with a steering wheel ... ?

Since I stopped playing, I converted my poker grind station into an online sim racing station. Playing poker behind a steering wheel might take some getting used to...

  • Maintain Platinum Star for July+
  • Stretch Goal: Supernova??
The car has already raced once this year in CSCS Round 1 with Richard Boake behind the wheel. He managed to grab 2nd place which is not bad considering we decided to run the car at 11PM the night before.

Richard killing it at CSCS Round 1 (TMP)
Photo by skootermedia

This year my plan is to get back behind the wheel for a couple events (not competitively) just to enjoy the track again. Online sim racing has been fun and all, but it just doesn't compare to the real thing.

Safety upgrades for 2015. Dobaru approves.

For 2015, I've made some safety upgrades: roll bar, 6-pt harnesses, HANS device, and a new helmet.

Looking serious now.

The car also received some front end aero upgrades: Prodrive hood vents and Can-Jam custom canards.

Temporary setup: GTX-3076R stock location. 
The hood dampers and 20-cell Antigravity battery are new.

Here is how the engine bay currently sits with the loaner turbo. My own turbo should hopefully be in the car and tuned by next month. It will be a rotated GTX-3576R .82 A/R tuned by OnPoint Dyno.
  • Attend 3+ track days
  • Keep the shiny side up

Sunday, June 7, 2015

2014 Goals in Review

It's June and I haven't posted anything this year? Better late than never... But before that I need to review what happened last year. In 2014 I had two big goals:

2014 Goal #1: To become a better poker player

Supernova is the 2nd Highest VIP Tier on PokerStars

I can say that I met this goal. Not just from a monetary perspective, but from an educational Game Theory perspective as well. I can’t say that I've developed a strategy that’s even close to optimal – but the key is that I now understand the mathematical concepts necessary to do so. And it’s definitely helped me gain a competitive edge in other games as well (especially board games). Counting all the profit since I returned to poker at the end of 2013, I made just over $15k CAD in the time I spent playing online.

Terra Mystica, one of my favourite board games

I decided to take a huge break from poker after hitting Supernova status in Q4 2014. Mentally and physically I managed to burn myself out. Also things at work started getting very busy. December to March is crunch time for my line of business. It’s very difficult to come home from a professional 9-5 job every day and put in a solid 2 hours of A-game poker and another 1-2 hours of studying concepts and reviewing hands. For those who aren't aware of the intensity of the games, think of it as writing an exam after you’re already exhausted from your day job, every day and on weekends too. And putting in anything less has the detriment of causing you to lose money.

QA Truth

It's a good thing I decided to take a break. With the extra time and energy I had, I was able to focus on excelling at my career and I'm happy to announce that I managed to earn a promotion at work. I've finally moved out of the Quality Assurance line of business and into Product Development Engineering. This is going to be an exciting change for me as it's something I've always wanted to do.

Naturally, I'll want to focus on getting up to speed with my new job so there will be less time for poker in 2015. I actually haven't played online at all this year. But the long break has actually revitalized me and I might start to dabble in the games again.

2014 Goal #2: To become a better badminton player

I'm not going to rehash the reasons why I didn't have much time to focus on badminton. Clearly it was a secondary objective for me. But I do think that I got a lot better overall. Mostly in part to meeting a lot of great new people who are much better at the sport than I am. That's the way to get better at anything!

Passmore Badminton Club

Excessive poker playing in Q4 2014 resulted in a rotator cuff injury but I've since recovered 100% thanks to an amazing physiotherapist (shout-out to Mr. Physio!). One thing was for certain – I needed to start training the rest of my body to prevent injuries from happening again. That shoulder injury was NOT fun. 

Basement Gym

So in January I purchased some gym equipment for my basement. I've been doing a modified version of the StrongLifts 5x5 routine (2x/week instead of 3x) and have seen some pretty solid results so far. My core is much stronger and I no longer get as sore from intense badminton games. I plan to continue what I'm doing for 2015: 3-4 days per week of badminton followed by 1-2 days of lifting. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November Update

It really upsets me to say this but I'm going to have to bail on my annual stretch goal of achieving 200,000 VPP's. I was actually on pace to achieve this (currently sitting on 150,000 VPP's) however due to some circumstances surrounding my health it no longer makes sense to pursue.

Back in September I injured my rotator cuff playing badminton. I haven't played in 3 months and have replaced all that down time with grinding big blinds. But in doing so, I've actually exacerbated the condition in my shoulder and the pain is just too overwhelming now. It might have to do with my new battlestation setup. The lack of arm rest on the saddle chair was forcing my shoulder to sustain increased static loads.

The muscle I injured is the Subscapularis

Currently I've been receiving physiotherapy and acupuncture weekly. I'm also doing exercises to strengthen it daily. It's slowly recovering now. But with no badminton or poker I'm going to have to find something to do with my spare time until I'm back to 100%.