Friday, June 29, 2012

[6/29/2012] Track Report (TMP)

Event: TCI & TMMC Open Lapping
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 31°C, Sunny
Here's a real quick track report. A few of my co-workers went lapping today so I took the day off work to join them for moral support.

The track was barren. Maximum number of cars on the track at any given time was three, lol!

Weekday lapping is such a great time to practice. Some un-cut videos of my friends' driving:
An interesting note riding in Lelan's IS300 with an open-diff: Because of the open diff, there was crazy bogging through the corners. I have a similar feeling in my car although not as intense. The 06 WRX has an open front diff if I'm not mistaken. I'm starting to think that maybe it's time I start looking at upgrading my diffs as well. It never ends :|

Sunday, June 24, 2012

[6/24/2012] CSCS #2 (GBR)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #2
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Circuit), Grand Bend
Weather Conditions: 20-24°C cloudy with intermittent drizzle (1mm)
I think waking up at 7:00am is the latest I've ever woken up for a track day. It felt great knowing that it was only a 10 minute drive to the track from the hotel. Despite being so close, I still managed to show up a bit late lol. My friends driving out from Toronto even beat me to the track.

Vinh with his Team Lexus IS300 race car got shafted with his pit spot early on. Apparently we weren't allowed to park left of the Krikorian tent in the vendor area but they didn't tell him that until he already unpacked. My friend Peter was also trailering a Jetta race car. Tension was high as we tried to find a pit spot where we could fit everything. All the teams who camped the night before had set up their trailers perpendicular to the pit parking lines.

But you snooze you lose. And I knew from last year's CSCS experience that something as silly as not finding a good pit spot could be enough to set you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Realizing this I tried to stay cool and thankfully worked out a spot in between the NV Auto crew and Defcon Racing.

The weather wasn't nearly as nice as the day before. I checked the forecast the night before and they were calling for a 60% chance of thunderstorms and the hourly forecast said they would start by 2:00PM, just in time for the timed runs. But checking again at the track on the morning of showed that the storm was pushed back to 5:00PM. I can see now why F1 teams spend lots of money on weather research. It didn't end up more than spitting rain for the whole day so we were lucky. But can you imagine how interesting things would've become if it started to rain as the time attack started? It happened to me last year at SRTA #4 and I won because of that. But at CSCS the slower groups lead the time attack... definitely something to think about.

Open Lapping
Practice really paid off as traffic was quite heavy on the small track and getting clean laps in was proving to be difficult. I started the day off with a full tank of gas but it had to last the entire day plus my drive back to London. I used up both of my jerry cans during practice the day before. By noon I was down to just over a quarter tank so I called it quits for lapping.
Best lap times per session: 
Session 1 - 0:59.17
Session 2 - 0:58.85
Session 3 - 0:58.51
Session 4 - 0:59.23
Vinh snapped a half-shaft and was doing 1WD in his IS300. He somehow managed to convince Scion to lend him an FR-S so that he could carry on and get points. Perks of the job I guess! If AlmostHip was driving I'm sure he would've zip tied the shaft back to the diff and kept going lol.
Peter, who provided me with lots of valuable advice before I started doing the HANSON schools, was also out learning the track. I was happy he was able to finally have a working car because I honestly can't remember the last time he didn't have a car break on him lol. He had some wiring and 2nd gear issues throughout the day but he still managed to put a time down.

Time Attack
I was in heat 9 of 12 so lots of waiting for my turn. Years of competing in various things and I still get a little anxious about things like this. But I love it. I love the release of adrenaline as the marshall tells me to move forward and wait there. With nothing else in front of me but open track and a bunch of cars lined up behind me with drivers feeling the exact same way. Am I an adrenaline junky? Hell yes!
Overall I was happy with my timed run. No big mistakes but I did take T1 too hot on laps 2 and 3. I was really conservative through T6 and really pushed the limit of T9 on one of the laps where I get really close to the grass on the exit. I also think I could've taken T7 a little wider on laps 2 and 3.

Official Time was 0:58.301. A new personal best thanks to the low fuel level and lack of passengers. This win goes to my friends who drove all the way to Grand Bend to help me out: Tang, Francis, Jeff and Kaori. And also to Karen and Doburu for putting up with me at the track :)

Some issues to address before CSCS #3 at DDT on July 15: 
- Twisting/binding noise while turning left at low speed. Maybe my ball joint(s)? I can feel it in the steering wheel over some rough surfaces too.
- Intermittent rattling/squeaking noise while driving at low speed (sounds like same issue as above) - Brake vibration, worse when slowing from high speed. Hope I didn't warp my rotors or the hats.
- Sometimes difficult to shift into 4th gear at the track (intermittent)
- Need new rear brake pads (Ferodo DS2500) - In my GPS data my speed on the main straight appears to dip as it approaches 170 kph. Not sure if that's actually happening or my AiM Solo is messing up.
- Pad knockback approaching braking zone for T1 the pedal drops a lot deeper than normal. Once I reach T3 pedal feel is back to normal.

I get a few weeks off until the next event. Both myself and the car could use a rest. June was intense!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

[6/23/2012] Track Report (GBR)

Event: GBR Open Lapping (Practice for CSCS #2)
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Circuit), Grand Bend
Weather Conditions: 27°C sunny
GBR opened a new road course last year and not many people have been to it. I booked this day ahead of CSCS to get an edge on learning. What I've come to realize after doing SRTA's same layout over and over again is that it's not necessarily how good of a driver you are, but also how well you know the track. CSCS open lapping is fun, but typically there is a lot of traffic which makes it difficult for learning.

The plan was to get to Grand Bend on Saturday and get the car setup (tires and brake pads) and go out and really learn the line. The weather was perfect and only a dozen or so cars showed up to the track. Since Grand Bend is quite the drive from where I live (3+ hours) I decided to book a stay at the Pine Dale Motor Inn so that I could be well rested for the time attack.

Track Analysis

 GBR modified is a tiny circuit, with lap times hovering around the 1 minute mark. My goal was to crack the 1:00 mark just based off of what I've seen on the internet. On my very first session I did a 0:59.59 so maybe my goal was too easy. Although they did add curbs for 2012, which they didn't have in 2011. That could lead to faster lap times from cutting corners.

I also learned that the main straight is actually an active landing strip for airplanes. I had to pull over during one of my sessions because a plane was landing! Imagine drag racing a Cessna down the main straight lol.
I played around with a couple different lines and gearing throughout the day but this is the combination that yielded the fastest lap times. Theoretically this is how I want to drive the track but after watching my videos there is definitely lots of room for improvement. Pit entry feeds you into turn 2.

Turns 1 & 2: These turns are linked so you can take a constant radius around them (double apex). It looks like two turns in person, but on a map and in the car it's really one big turn. The track is overly wide here so running a tighter line is probably better.

Turn 3: After the exit of T2 you really need to slow down and not charge the entry into T3. Entry into T3 needs to be compromised for a wide entry into T4. I downshift into 2nd gear here and try not to exit too wide so that I can take a bigger arc into T4. (Note that in the video I'm in 3rd most of the time. Look how slow it feels! Didn't start playing around with the 2nd gear downshift until later in the day)

Turn 4: If T3 was setup correctly then you should be entering T4 from the about the middle of the track. Get on the throttle early. WOT and track left on exit, upshifting into 3rd gear as you swing over to the right side of the track to setup for T5. 

Turn 5: There is a small cutout on the left curb that you can place your left tire into. Because of this cutout, the curb is deceivingly level with the rest of the track and you can take this turn flat out. 

Turn 6: Not really a full turn, but because of the high speed through 5 you have to shuffle over left to get a wide entry into T6. This turn takes the most balls in my opionion and I think I could be going a lot faster here. Sitting in Kpower's car he takes this turn very well. I think he is lifting here whereas I am lightly taping the brake to get the car settled because I'm scared of running wide into the grass.

Turn 7: Shoot for the middle if not wider past the first set of curbs so that you can get a really wide radius onto the straight. Get your right tire as close as possible to the tire markers on the inside of the straight. This is the most important turn of the track but not necessarily the most difficult to get right (I think that goes to T3/T6). I'm well into 4th gear on the straight. It's longer than the one at TMP. 

Turn 8: The carousel. I find I brake way later than most people here. I start braking at the 300 (3 pylon) marker but it's hard on the brakes and then trail braking. Brake earlier if you aren't comfortable with the back end getting squirmy. I keep a tight and tidy line around here. I see the faster guys running wide here though so I'm not sure if my line around here is better or worse. 

Turn 9: Most fun corner of the track because it can be taken flat out. There is a dip in the pavement close to the inside but it's not the end of the world to hit. Yes the car gets unsettled but it's leading onto a straight and I'd rather hit the bump every time and stay on the track than dodge the bump and end up off the track. I just barely skim the rev limiter on this small straight leading up to T1 so I don't bother upshifting. 

And that's one lap of GBR modified :) 

Best lap times per practice session: 
Session 1 - 0:59.59
Session 2 - 1:00.01 
Session 3 - 0:59.20 
Session 4 - 0:59.13 

When I got back to the hotel I noticed that I had bent my left rear wheel :( I suspect this happened while experimenting with cutting the curb at turn 3. It was a really big jolt to the car. So far I haven't experienced any loss of air pressure or vibration while driving so I don't plan on repairing it just yet. Because race car. Damaging a (very rare) forged rim is very tilting though...
That concluded practice. I love that this track isn't in the middle of nowhere like most other tracks. Spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach and exploring the nice little town of Grand Bend 8)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blackstone Labs Oil Analysis #2

Got my oil analysis back from Blackstone Labs. This is what they had to say about it:
BRANDON: We saw the last comment mentioned two HPDE on this oil. This oil saw three HPDE's, so we're quite pleased to see that metals haven't really increased much. And this oil saw a longer overall run too, so clearly the extra miles and the hard use isn't giving this engine any hassle. The viscosity read in the expected range for 5W/40, and there was no measurable fuel, water, coolant, or excessive dirt present in this sample. All things considered, this engine appears to be in great shape as of the 6/11/12 sample date. Nice report.
Myth: You should change your oil after every track day.


*Do your own oil anaylsis, every engine is different!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[6/10/2012] SRTA #2 (DDT)

Event: Sigma Racing Time Attack #2
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW w/ 2 kinks), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 24-29°C sunny
Nice to be back in familiar territory for the first time this season. The morning was already warm and humid so I knew by afternoon it would be really hot.

My goal for the day was to break into the 1:08's. Considering my best time last season was 1:09.53 on RA-1's it was an ambitious goal for StarSpecs. But I've come to realize that most of the time it's not the hardware that limits your potential lap times but rather the driver.

The weight reduction, chassis bracing, and brake cooling added a lot to my confidence level in the car this year. I was looking forward to setting a new personal best.

Test & Tune
Since it felt like I was overheating my tires at the last CSCS I decided to drop the hot pressure from 40 psi to 38 psi all around. I kept bleeding my tire pressures until they stabilized around 38-39 psi hot. The balance of these pressures was good but they still felt greasy after a couple laps. I guess that's just the nature of the StarSpecs. I heard these tires were more catered towards autocrossers because of the soft compound. I was positive I was still overheating them. Coming into the pits, you couldn't even keep your hand on the tread for a split second without having to pull it off. They were that hot. They also seem to be wearing pretty quickly after just two events (see attachments).

A friend of mine once taught me the ghetto way of measuring tire temp without a pyrometer. He said you should be able to keep your hand on the tire for 1-2 seconds before having to pull it off. If it burns you right away it's definitely too hot, and if you can keep it on for any longer, they aren't up to temp yet. I didn't bring a pyrometer this time so I resorted to his method.

DDT is a really twisty track. The amount of steering inputs here, compared to TMP, is way higher. There are also elevation changes. I started off with dampers set to +16 all around and eventually settled at +24. Although no setting made me happy* *I wrote up a really long rant about my coilovers but I deleted it to save myself the QQ.

Best Lap Times 
Session #1 - 1:12.46
Session #2 - 1:10.24
Session #3 - 1:10.60
Session #4 - 1:10.66
Session #5 - 1:09.40 (new best)

It was a struggle for me to break into the 1:09's but I eventually did it after running my fuel level down and riding without any passengers.
Differences in my line this year over last:
T1 - braking earlier and cutting more
T2 - braking earlier but with less pressure and carrying more speed while turning in shallower using the curb
T3 - downshifting into 2nd and using the extra torque to carry me out using the full width of the track 
T4 - braking earlier and cutting more (needs work) 
T5 - braking earlier and cutting more, accelerating earlier (needs work) 
T6 - no changes other than hating my dampers 
T7 - more throttle, but stabbing brakes to get the car rotated in the right direction 
T8 - earlier WOT, cutting more 
T9 - higher entry speed due to more confidence but I think I can go even faster 
T10 - no changes but I need to get better at hitting the apex 

In summary, I'm just cutting corners a lot better this year. Here is my attempt at explaining to Gutantag (passenger) on how to cut the curbs lol. As you will see I'm still far from being an instructor  
 Here's a video from my last test & tune run of the day. Somewhere in there is my 1:09.40 lap. I chose to upload this one because lots of interesting things happen, including almost rear ending two cars, a chase with a Porsche 911, and some cars deciding to cut the grass lol. You can also hear how underdamped my car is as I bounce out of several turns. Chug chug chug chug. I need better dampers!  

Official Time Attack 

No footage this time as I was fumbling with my GoPro as Raf was sending us out. When he sent me out I hit the power button instead of the record button by accident :( 

(Unofficial) OTA Lap Times 
OTA Lap #1 - 1:09.18 
OTA Lap #2 - 1:08.94 

3rd Place - Group A (1:09.15) 

 There was some variance between my AiM Solo and the MyLaps times as it showed my official time as 1:09.15. I was happy thinking I did a 1:08 after coming off the track but then instant heart break when they revealed the official times LOL. That just means I need to work harder to get an official 1:08 on the SRTA website... 

 Congrats to MIBAgentQ on his 2nd place with a 1:08.91! Also great to see other TSC'ers Lord_Sid and kwan_1104 setting new personal bests and Gutantag for attending his first time attack. I gotta watch out for Kwan as his lap times at DDT are creeping up on me! 1:09.96 for him during OTA for a 4th place finish right behind me. 

Big thank you to SRTA for putting on yet another awesome event :D 

Next event is CSCS #2 at Grand Bend Raceway. Never been there before so it should be interesting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[6/03/2012] CSCS #1 (TMP)

Event: Canadian Sports Compact Series #1
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 13-16°C mix of rain and sunshine
With a last minute change to the 2012 CSCS rules I was scrambling to get some 200 treadwear tires for street class. Chris @ TougeTuning was able to hook me up with some 235/40/17 StarSpecs two days before the event and my buddy Ken helped me mount them the night before. Talk about last minute! Thanks guys!

Normally I stop by the Petro at Ancaster on Wilson & Fiddler's the morning of, but my friends wanted to meet somewhere "closer and on the way". I agreed to meet them at the Sunoco in Stoney Creek but to my demise it turned into a Husky. I told them it was a bad idea trying a new fuelling spot on the day of an event but they were convinced I'd be fine. So that kinda threw my morning off a bit, but luckily because of the poor morning weather it wasn't that busy. A spot in the paddock was actually easy to find, omg!

Open Lapping Practice
Lapping was staggered, 20 minutes experienced, 20 minutes novice. I was in the experienced group and and set off to find my tire pressures. I started at 36 PSI warm all around and ended up with them at 44 PSI hot. They felt really greasy on the track so I backed them down to 39 PSI hot for the day and eventually left them at that. This year is about driving more and worrying less about setups. I had my dampers set to +16 front/rear but I feel I could've used a bit more stiffness since the car was wobbling a bit through T1. Next time I'll try +20.

I did 4 practice sessions but missed a few because I wanted to take some time to check out the booths and catch up with some friends. It was raining during some of the runs so I opted to sit out for those runs to avoid an unforced disaster. I think I prefer SRTA's open lapping practice better, where you can take your time and go out whenever you're ready. Although with 50% more cars at CSCS I understand that this is done to regulate traffic. HANSON schools run this way anyway so I'm kind of used to it by now.

StE's forged rims paid off big time as the left chicain (T8) had a big pot hole in front of it. Most people, including myself, cut this chicaine really hard on the left. I believe AlmostHip blew a tire and KPower bent a rim because of this hole. On one run I hit the hole so hard my wiper switch turned itself on! I actually hit this hole twice so I'm really lucky I didn't damage anything.

Best lap times per practice session:
Session 1 - 1:25.24
Session 2 - 1:24.84
Session 3 - 1:24.60 
Session 4 - 1:24.47 

The brake ducts also worked extremely well. During session 1 I ran with the ducts covered up and noticed a bit of pad fade. But with the ducts open I never experienced any fade whatsoever. No smoking or burnign smells in the pits either. What a relief to have this hot braking issue finally sorted (although StE still thinks I brake too much lol). Thank you Can-Jam and Randy Zimmer! 

For lap timing I was using an AiM Solo DL that I picked up from the SRTA webstore (yes, they sell stuff now!). I love the AiM products because they are so straight forward to set up and use. All I had to do was stand by the start/finish line on the pit-wall and hit the "OK" button to set the GPS marker. The lap timer turns on with the car and once you drive by the market it starts the lap times. CSCS was using the MyLaps RFID system (same one as SRTA) and I found my lap times to be within a tenth of second all day long. The MyLaps system kept giving me the (slightly) faster lap times. 

This year CSCS has taken the hint and staged the heats for us. They had staff staging the cars from slowest to fastest in heats of 5. Live timing was supposed to be available on a TV but we never saw one during the day. Instead, they were made available on paper printouts for us to check, or through cell phones at if you managed to get data reception (which I didn't). Still, this is a tremendous improvement over last year, which pretty much made CSCS broken in my opinion. I'm really glad they fixed this and look foreward to more improvements for event #2 in Grand Bend.
Regarding the open lapping qualifying - talk about a close battle! KPower and I were duking it out all day long and we kept swapping positions. Final times were within a couple thousandths. Definitely tons of fun, Thanks Kyle! Did you notice I was taking messed up lines when you were behind me so as not to reveal anything? Lol j/k I didn't do that... or did I? ;)
Official Time Attack
The thing I like the most about the CSCS rules is the chance to put down 3 hot laps (unlike SRTA's 2 hot laps). That 3rd hot lap makes such a big difference because it usually takes at least that many laps to get tires up to temp. At SRTA before the timed runs you always hear people freaking out about changing tire pressures last minute, but at CSCS there's none of that. CSCS runs more cars and gives more laps. SRTA guys take note! A (rare) Kaizen opportunity!

I qualified for the 8th heat of the day and everyone in my group was running 1:24's (including KPower). We were staged beside each other actually.

My runs went well. No drama and fairly clean laps. I didn't have any big screw ups but I didn't particularly feel overly satisfied with any of the laps either. Room for improvement definitely exists and looking over the footage I can already tell which areas need work. Still, I managed to pull out a new personal best of 1:24.038 and take home 1st place in a small Street AWD class.
I only managed to beat my previous personal best by 0.2 seconds after switching to a stickier street tire. I think this is the reason I felt only mildly satisfied with that new time. People have told me that the StarSpecs get grippier as the tread gets shaved so I hope they're right.

But overall I'm very happy with my results. Nothing broke, no major off-roading, new personal best and a trophy to boot. The only thing I really need to focus on now is driving better. Let's have more weekends like this please :)

See you at SRTA #2 at Mosport DDT this Sunday! Do I smell 1:08's? ;)