Monday, April 30, 2012

[4/29/2012] Shakedown (TMP)

Event: Open Lapping Day 
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather: 5°C Sunny (morning), 14°C Sunny (afternoon)

Glad I had a shakedown day to figure things out. Weather was great! Sunny all day, high of 14°C and some slightly gusty winds.

There are some things that need to be adjusted or fixed before the next track day:
Coilover right rear seat adjuster rubbing on Oswald brace
CV boot (repair actually held up!)

To bring next time:
Sunscreen! I'm a lobster

Driving Technique
I managed to bribe a very experienced driving instructor to come along with me and here were his comments on my driving:
  1. I'm using too much brakes. Instead of slamming on them 100% and upsetting the car, quickly work up to 80% a little earlier and roll off the brakes while turning in to the apex. He said that even during qualifying he doesn't use as much brakes as me. If I were in a real race I would cook them for sure. 
  2. Work on maintaining momentum through turns. By modulating the brakes better it should help reduce chopping too much entry speed.
  3. Apply throttle sooner on exits and use fast pedal/steering inputs to make corrections. Need higher actions per minute with all my limbs... must play more StarCraft! 
  4. Eyes need to be looking ahead to the apex ALL the time. Immediately after that start thinking about the next turn. Rinse and repeat. Never lose focus with the eyes, even if wonky shit is going on down below. Look at where you want to go and the car will follow. 
  5. Stop using the cones as reference points. Some of them are just wrong and you need to think for yourself on what the best approach is. I also heard that the cones at TMP might not even apply to cars as they mostly host bike/SOAR track days. 
  6. With my driving style I have a tendency to take too many late apexes (in general). Try to turn in shallower and use more of the curbing wherever possible. This will also help maintain momentum. Stop making up turns. Just because there's track width doesn't mean you have to use it. Try to keep going in a straight line with the biggest curves possible. 

Part Reviews
Oswald Subframe/Rear Triangle Braces
I had a lot more feedback through the steering wheel/seat while driving. I'm sure part of it is me becoming more in-tune with the car but more likely also due to the bracing. I can feel which end of the car is going to slide out a lot earlier than I used to and thus I'm able to make corrections sooner. I recovered from a pretty vicious AWD drift that was pretty surprising! Unfortunately the right rear strut top brace is contacting a small bur on my damper knob. Nobody had a file at the track to solve this stupid little issue! Wasted 30 minutes of track time figuring this out at the track. Gotta fix this one day.

Oswald/Antigravity Lightweight Stuff
Weight reduction makes a big difference. How big? Just by driving solo vs. with a 130 lb passenger I was able to cut 1 second off my lap time without changing my driving. I'm sure removing all that weight also made my brakes happier!

StopTech ST-40 Big Brake Kit / KFP Gold Pads
Lots of braking force up front. Their marketing states that the foreward bias is the same as stock but I feel that may not be true anymore after using them. The front gets a bit squirmy under hard braking but that's likely due to my technique as well (see above). Consistency is significantly improved. I now have confidence that I'll actually have brakes for the next turn! With the heavy braking due to my technique I was still only able to fade my KFP Gold pads just a little after about 4+ hot laps. Maybe I lost about 25% braking force but never more than that. The fade came on gradually and never caught me off guard like it did with my 4-pots, where it would just drop off a cliff. I just had to adjust my braking points a little and the fade would subside after a cool down Lap. Mind you this is on less grippy street tires vs. R-compounds last year, and on a 13°C day. I think the Roo Ducts would be the cherry on the top for braking consistency. I'm looking forward to reviewing them at my next TMP day.

JDM Spec-C V9 Seats
Way more bolstering than the stock WRX seats! My left leg didn't have any signs of cramping like it did last year and it's evident from my interior GoPro footage that the seat hugs my frame way better! The biggest downside to these seats, as with any other OEM seat, is the weight. They weigh around 50-60 lbs which is a TON compared to aftermarket buckets that weigh 10-15 lbs each. Although you do lose adjustability and side airbags which is pretty huge for a daily driver. Driving all day in them didn't tire out my back or legs like my old seats did. The 2.5 hour commute each way to TMP was much more bearable.

Falken FK-452 Tires (225/45/17)
Driving on my street tires was actually a lot of fun and I was able to learn a lot! Despite having less overall grip, the audible feedback was nice to have and they broke traction in a more gradual fashion than R-comps which tend to let go without much warning. The FK-452's performed much better than I was expecting. Sure they got a little greasy but only when pushing them really hard like 5+ laps. They didn't look melted afterwards like most street tires either! The downside is the howl like a banshee during regular driving now (mostly during braking). 

Other Comments 
  • I spent zero time playing with settings today. Dampers were +12F/R and tire pressures 38/33 psi F/R. The focus was on learning the line and practicing certain sections of the track one session at a time.
  • I noticed I was much more calm about driving this year. This is evident from my in-car footage. Last year I had a death grip on the steering wheel! This year I look a bit more relaxed. 
  • Putting in brake pads the day before and not having to swap tires at the track makes the day way more enjoyable! I think the minor wear from the commute is worth the hassle at the track.

Lap Times 
  • My best time last year was 1:28.44 on RA-1's 
  • Best lap times throughout sessions were: 1:28.45, 1:27.07, 1:26.95, 1:25.98, 1:25.28, and a new personal best of 1:24.21 on my final run without any passengers (see video) 


I'm looking forward to at least one more practice session before my first time attack. We'll see if I can get some laps in at SRTA #1 or maybe another regular open lapping day @ TMP.

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