Tuesday, June 25, 2013

[6/23/2013] CSCS #2 (GBR)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #2
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Layout)
Weather Conditions: 40°C (Sunny and F***ing HOT)

The Weather Network was calling for a chance of thunderstorms but it never happened. Instead we got heat and humidity. And LOTS of it. The entire day was a battle to stay hydrated and focused. I was an idiot and wore my only dry-fit T-shirt during yesterday's practice.


Nike Racing?

On my first session out I didn't touch anything with the car. In fact I even forgot to don my racing slippers. Didn't seem to matter though since I smashed my best practice time by 7 tenths with a 55.36. The car was feeling great. Very consistent power levels and the brakes were holding up very well thanks to the Roo Ducts. I was feeling great too, setting the fastest lap in my class for the morning and also being within the top 4 fastest cars of the day. It was great to finally be able to hang with the big boys! Behind me was Mike Harvey in his 05 STI doing 56's and Alex Li in his widebody bugeye doing 57's.

But this was no time to get comfortable. And if I've learned anything at all from competing in other things, it's that securing your lead is critical. When you're ahead, get more ahead.

Sorry kids, this ride is out of service

It's not pee, I swear!

Since I had only run one session and had the entire day ahead of me, I decided to try and cut some more weight. The passenger seat and washer fluid seemed like the obvious choices to me. If I had to guess I would say the seat weighed around 50 lbs and the washer fluid around 6-7 lbs. Not bad for 30 minutes of labour.

Going out for another session I immediately noticed a handling improvement in Turn 2 while turning left into the "S". Despite having some clean laps I still couldn't do better than my previous session. Best lap was a 55.39.

Some nice battles between Riaan's Z06, Brandon's Civic, Vince's 240sx, and Jimmy's RX-7

Qualifying Lap Times:
Session 1 - 55.36
Session 2 - 55.39

At this point I was feeling that there was nothing more I could do to make my car go faster except lots of seat time. But I only had half a tank of gas left and I still needed some to get back to London the next day. I decided to let the car sit until time attack.

As the afternoon went on, Mike and Alex started to catch up. Mike replaced his worn NT-01's with Hankook TD's and found gobs of time. He was now only 2 tenths behind me with a 55.5. Alex was starting to get the hang of the track and was now in the 56's. This was going to be a close one!

Heat soak was really starting to rear its ugly head. Not with the car but with my body. My shirt was soaked and my head was throbbing. I decided to go buy some ice to cool myself off and to later use it to cool the VMIC. Sitting in Karen's car with the A/C on also helped. Dobaru kept me company in the back seat. I closed my eyes and visualized my run over and over again in my head until CSCS staff came to get me for my run.

Time Attack

Last year on hot days I would blast my A/C in the staging lane and keep myself cool. But this wasn't an option this year and I was dying for the marshal to let us go so I could get some airflow in the car. But airflow equals drag. I like to run with my windows up for this reason. So I kept them up. This was probably a bad idea in hindsight.

The time attack just seemed to fly by. For some reason the car just didn't handle the same way it did in the morning session and I found myself making simple line errors in every lap. In the second lap I even went two-wheels-off and missed a shift on the straight. My first two laps times were shockingly slow so I had to tell myself to snap out of it in lap 3 and focus extra hard on nailing down a good time. Despite that, I still managed to botch my downshift for Turn 1. Instead of double downshifting from 5th to 3rd, I went from 5th to 4th. That mistake alone cost me ~0.6s (see graph below). After my third hot lap, 55.54 was the best I could do. I've had a history of setting a new personal best during time attack runs. But today I broke the pattern and it didn't feel good.

Time Attack Lap Times:
Hot Lap 1 - 55.98
Hot Lap 2 - 57.30
Hot Lap 3 - 55.54

Perfect lap would be 54.9s, still not enough to beat Harvey's 54.6s

The live timing leaderboard wasn't working so I had to get soul crushed the hard way by my friend telling me that Mike did a 54.6. Alex really stepped it up with a 55.8, almost sneaking into 2nd.

I need to start charging for lawn service

I finished in 2nd place. After qualifying in 1st place, this was a bitter feeling. And given how I drove during the time attack, I was probably lucky to have come in 2nd too. In hindsight though, had I driven a perfect lap, 54.6 would still have been difficult to beat. Mike drove one hell of a time attack and he definitely earned this win.

Eat. Sleep. Win. Second.

For Next Time:

In the future, I'll have to figure out a way to deal with these hot days. Heat stroke is real and can seriously affect your judgement.

I also need to get some more practice with the 6-speed. I've driven the 6-speed four times on track this year and I'm still missing shifts.

Also, after re-watching my videos I've determined that my lines have gotten worse this year. I'm going faster purely by power and grip, as proven by my Saturday practice on the ZII's. It could be that I need to sort the handling out so the car understeers less. This will naturally allow me to point the car where I want it. But some focus back on the fundamentals is still necessary.

Practice, practice, practice.

See you in Round 3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Monday, June 24, 2013

[6/22/2013] Track Report (GBR)

Event: Open Lapping (Practice for CSCS Round 2)
Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Layout)
Weather Conditions: 30°C+ Sunny and Humid

Another early start to the day, waking up at 5:30AM to make the 3 hour trek to Grand Bend, ON. The drive was not an enjoyable one. This car has really taken the CSCS rulebook's definition of Super Street quite literally: "The Super Street Class has been designed for vehicles that are a bit extreme for the street; they often see more track time then street driving." The lack of air conditioning, an exhaust that makes your ears bleed, and an unforgiving clutch were all enough to make me miss my Scion iQ for regular driving.

But that all goes away once the car hits the track. This is where the Can-Jam Motorsport background comes to life. The car was able to consistently put in fast lap after fast lap without effort. Two full track days in a row and not a single drop of oil was burned! The IXIZ AOS we carried over has been working great with the new EFR setup. Overall the build has been holding together very strong and I have Can-Jam to thank for that.

Lap Times with the StarSpec ZII's:
Session 1 - 58.00
Session 2 - 58.09

Not so impressive considering my best lap time was a 58.31 last year with my old Stage 2 setup.

Lap Times with the Hankook TD's:
Session 3 - 56.84
Session 4 - 56.03

There was a big difference once I threw on the TD's. They were faster, but more importantly they gave me a lot more confidence to take some corners flat out with the extra power I was making. The only thing I played with all day were tire pressure settings. I didn't bother touching the dampers. They handled great! The car had some mild understeer but I felt I could handle it given the sweeping nature of the track. It wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday at DDT with many sharp 90 degree turns.

Photo credit: Jeff Beech

A few other hardcore time attackers showed up to practice and it was great fun chatting with everyone before the big day on Sunday. Special thanks to Mike Gardner who lent me some earplugs for my trip back home. Those were a life saver man.

With the best lap of the day being a repeatable 56s flat, I was feeling comfortable going into the time attack. I was only 2s off the unlimited track record from last year and this time would have been enough to win SSAWD by 1.7s.

It was hot and humid all day and I was beginning to feel some heat stroke setting in. With the 56s session I decided not to waste any more rubber or gas and call it a day. Time to hit the strip and sip some fruity drinks!

Friday, June 21, 2013

[6/21/2013] Shakedown at HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Track: Mosport DDT (CW 1K)
Weather Conditions: 25°C Sunny

My car is finally ready for some action! The Can-Jam crew was pulling another all nighter getting prepared for a big CTCC weekend as well as CSCS. My car got its alignment and tune through midnight. So instead of having to go pick it up, I received a special delivery at the track this morning :)

While the big boys were out testing on the big track, I was stationed over at DDT performing skid pad duty at the HANSON school. Since I was primarily manning the skid pad exercises I didn't get to do a lot of fiddling with the car. But a couple of sessions on track was still better than nothing. Definitely needed for an overhaul of this magnitude before a weekend full of racing.

The car was supposed to get tuned on a ViPEC V88 ECU but a last minute glitch in some wiring meant we had to send it back to the manufacturer. So the car got tuned using COBB Speed Density as a temporary measure. This meant that little time was spent fine tuning and it was the first thing I noticed when driving the car. Part throttle was very choppy and power seemed to come on like an on/off switch. Combined with the almost instant spool-up of the Borg Warner EFR-6758 turbo, it made for a monster of a car to drive. Getting on the power too early in 2nd gear could make all four tires go squirrely. And the car pulls so hard in such a short distance that combined with the shorter JDM 6-Speed gears I'm now having to double downshift into some corners.

Next on the list was setting up the new RaceComp Engineering T2 coilovers. It uses a 2.5mm allen key and I found that I had to jack up the car to get to the compression adjustment due to the low ride height and wide 255 tires. I admit that I've been spoiled by the simple, single knob adjustments of the BC Racing coilovers! I spent an entire break period setting up the coilovers when I could have been out on track. But the trade off was well worth it. On the track the coilovers soaked up the bumps much better than before. I'm still in the process of fine tuning them and this thread has been a great resource for starters.

I ran into my first problem of the day on my 2nd run out. As I was powering out of the slow right hander at the downhill, I heard a "pop" sound followed by an instant loss in power. Checking my boost gauge I saw that I was only hitting 0 PSI at most. This was a familiar feeling as I had this happen to me at my very first track day at Shannonville in 2009 when I blew off a throttle body hose coupler. Checking the engine bay in the pits confirmed that I blew the 90 degree turbo outlet coupler off. Luckily, an easy fix!

Other than the turbo coupler issue, no real big issues to report back. There was a knocking noise coming from the rear suspension area so Can-Jam is taking the car back to the shop tonight to get it sorted ASAP. I was experiencing more understeer than I'd like, but I'm sure that some time spent with the swaybar settings (or removal) and shock tuning will correct that. My lovely new GReddy Ti-C exhaust tip is already turning brown from heat. Oh yeah, and the car came with a surprise: a Neetronics DCCD controller! I'll definitely need some time to learn how to use it.

Tomorrow is a practice day for me at Grand Bend, followed by CSCS Time Attack on Sunday. A hat trick weekend for track days. Tiring, but fun.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

[6/2/2013] CSCS #1 (TMP)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #1
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 21°C Overcast

My plan this year was to move up to Super Street AWD but Can-Jam Motorsports hasn't quite finished re-building my WRX yet. That wouldn't stop me from at least attending and trying to pick up some valuable points! They generously lent me one of their STI's for round 1. I picked the car up the evening before so I was pretty much going into this event with zero seat time behind an unfamiliar car.

Compared to my WRX last year this car was different in some ways but familiar in others. The main difference was a slightly bigger turbo and a JDM 6-speed. The suspension was similar being BC Racing but the spring rates were softer at the stock 8k/6k vs. my 10k/8k. I would run the R-compounds I bought for this season, 255/40/17 Hankook TD's. And to make things feel like home, we ported over my JDM Spec-C driver's seat with the Schroth 4-point harness and my rear triangle brace. This car also had 20mm/24mm swaybars vs. my 24mm/24mm front/rear.

Since I didn't have any car to shake down with in April/May, I had more butterflies than usual going into the first event. I kept tossing and turning in bed and ended up with only 1 hour of sleep. Terrible start for the morning. And on top of that my body was still a bit sore from an endurance karting event I raced in two days earlier. But I wouldn't let this ruin my day so I tried not to think about it too much. I was relying on adrenaline to fuel me through this event!

Open Lapping

Without any data available on the car and lots of traffic on the track it was very difficult to dial in a proper setup. This is why it's so important to do a shakedown on a less busy day. If you wait until the morning of an event it's too late. But we had to make do.

Morning Session

I ran with my StarSpec ZII's first just to get a feel for the car and to find the 6-speed gearing for each section. It had a lot more body roll than I was used to because of the softer springs but that didn't translate to less grip. The wider tires (255 vs. 235) and more aggressive alignment (-4° vs -3° camber) made the car feel very planted. I didn't have as many moments where the car wanted to slide out from underneath me.

As usual we had a disappointing time trying to tune the BC Racing dampers. I can't wait to get my car back and see what a real suspension can do!

Lap times with the StarSpec ZII's:
Session 1 - 1:26.95
Session 2 - 1:27.49

After getting a feel for the track conditions we put the Hankook TD's on. The plan for this session out was to just get them heated up and come in for a quick stop to check the pressures. Immediately going into T1 the car started to slide like I was driving on ice. So this is what R-comps feel like when cold? Scary as hell. But by T2 I had some minor grip and by lap 2 they were already starting to show better grip than the ZII's. After getting the tires set up it was time to start looking for a good lap time.

Issues Arise

As I started to put more and more laps down some problems were becoming apparent with the car. On the main straight in 5th gear, the power would intermittently break up around 5500-6000 RPM. And occasionally I had a very difficult time downshifting into 3rd gear, especially on the final hairpin leading to the main straight - the worst possible place to have this happen. Also the car started to leak radiant heat through the vents. With the windows up I was melting inside.

I brought the issues up with Can-Jam and they figured the power cutting issue could possibly be boost related (likely overboosting). It was a last minute tune so that was not surprising. They sent Sasha Anis out on the track to verify the issues and to see if they were fixable.

Pro Driver

I was fortunate to tag along with Sasha and took a mental note of the difference in his line. Riding with him was a similar experience to when I rode with Peter Hanson. Lots of actions per minute revolving around the steering and throttle inputs. Always testing the limits of grip by twitching around the steering wheel. During this session we only managed a few clean laps, producing a 1:23.95. But there was something clearly wrong with the car, not to mention 3rd gear popping out once. We pulled back into the pits to take a look at the AiM Solo data.

Issue Analysis

Booting up his laptop, Sasha compared the laps we just did with my best lap of the day which was a 1:21.17. Immediately we noticed a 15 kph difference in his top speed vs. mine. We determined that the car was heat soaking so badly that it was losing about 5 kph top speed PER LAP. When hot, the car was even slower than my Stage 2 WRX! Unfortunately he didn't bring his tuning software with him so we couldn't make any changes to the tune. Also some of the GPS traces seemed a bit off, possibly due to poor satellite reception.

The strategy going into the time attack was now clear. Cool the car down as much as possible and don't let it idle in pit lane. Sasha estimated I would only have power for 1 lap so I had to make my first lap count.

At this point I had about 1.5 hours left until the competition so I decided to take it out for one last run before letting it cold soak. I popped the center grill piece out in an effort to increase airflow to the rad. But it felt like it actually made the condition worse. It was like driving in a sauna so I called it quits after 4 laps, only managing a 1:23.53. I put the grill piece back on.


With the 1:21.73 I qualified in 4th place. Ahead of me was Mike Harvey (last year's SSA champion), Alex Li from team NV Auto, and the Maryuichi Auto GT-R R35. Mike and the R35 were seconds ahead and out of reach. But Alex was only 6 tenths ahead. If I wanted to sneak onto the podium I would have to beat him!

It was now time to cool the car down so I took all the ice from my cooler and spread it out on top of the rad and intercooler. At this point I realized the car also had an IC spray system. With a good suggestion from my friend Erik we also dumped some ice into the IC spray reservoir. My tires were also getting cold from inactvity so we bumped the pressures up by a couple PSI. Can-Jam also gave me some VP 109 race gas to use because I had already used up both my gerry cans of 94.

Lap times with the Hankook TD's:
Session 3 - 1:23.86
Session 4 - 1:22.17
Session 5 - 1:23.52
Session 6 - 1:21.73
Session 7 - 1:23.95 (Sasha)
Session 8 - 1:23.53

Time Attack

Clouds came over and covered up the sun. The air was chilly again so I had a really good feeling about the time attack. Lady luck seemed to be on my side right now. Lining up in the queue, I gave the IC a couple sprays of ice cold water.

Warm-Up Lap

I knew the tires were cold and I needed to build temps up fast. Engine bay temps would climb too so I wanted to get this over with quickly. I decided to take the warm-up lap at about 85%. Things were going well until I hit the hairpin at T6 just after the short straight. On corner entry something went immediately wrong. The tires felt like they hit an ice patch and the car went into a drift. I flicked the steering wheel into opposite lock but the car was still drifting towards the grass at a high rate of speed. I thought I saved it but nope. Car went straight into the grass. Wet grass flew all over the windshield and inside the car.  @#$%^&!!! I had a flashback from 2011 SRTA #3 where something similar happened and I ended up with a DNF. I thought to myself that there was no way in hell I came this far to let that happen again. I slammed it into 1st gear and banged the limiter getting back onto the track. The funny thing is that we didn't put washer fluid in to save weight. So I couldn't even wipe the dirt off without risking worse visibility.

At this point I knew that I lost a ton of tire heat from the wet grass. But I also knew that if I held up Alex who was behind me, I would be disqualified. I looked into my rear view mirror and saw nothing. Back on the gas hard. Time to re-build all the heat I lost. T10 came up and the same thing happened. Excess slip angle on the cold tires threw me into the grass once again. But the car was still moving forward(ish) so I just kept going. I went through the final hairpin onto the main straight with a car covered in dirt and grass. There was no time to be embarrassed in front of all the spectators. Eyes on the flag marshal showed a green flag - GO TIME.

Time Attack Lap Times:
Hot Lap 1 - 1:21.20
Hot Lap 2 - 1:20.47
Hot Lap 3 - 1:20.86

I knew I was probably beat after seeing Alex get really close to me by the end of the 3rd hot lap. Coming into the pits the news was broken to me that he beat me by just over a second. That was an incredible run by him so I didn't feel too bad.


Checking the leader board I found out that I beat the Maryuichi Auto R35 to sneak into 3rd place. Yeah podium!!! So overall I managed to collect 80 points in Round 1 and set a new personal best in car I'd never driven before. Results I am more than happy with.

Final Thoughts

Today I learned an important lesson: warm up R-compounds in a straight line, not in the corners! Hard acceleration and hard braking with some careful swerving to build up carcass temps. I also feel that I'm not driving the tires optimally. They have a lot more grip than the street tires I'm used to so that means my braking points may need to change. I'm confident that this will be resolved with some more seat time.

See you at Round 2 in Grand Bend!

PS. Sleep never felt so good in my life lol.