Sunday, August 19, 2012

[8/19/2012] CSCS #4 (TMP)

Event: Canadian Sport Compact Series #4
Track: Toronto Motorsports Park, Cayuga
Weather Conditions: 24°C Sunny

I didn't get much sleep due to Dobaru constantly waking me up from howling at stuff all night. I was also still in recovery mode from a hangover on Saturday. So having to wake up at 5AM wasn't the best of starts for me. But I was ready to kick some ass at TMP so that was my motivation!

I got to TMP really early, just before 8:00. Luckily I managed to dodge the police harassment everyone was talking about. During technical inspection my car threw a CEL while idling. Not something you want to see at the start of a track day. I reset my ECU and restarted the car. Stu from Can-Jam came up to me and said "That the startup didn't sound good, Sounds like you may be down on one cylinder." Anyone who has ever reset their ECU knows that the first crank can take a bit longer. So I thought it was normal and carried on with my morning.

Open Lapping

My first session started off behind Mr. Cassidy's RX-7 once again. Although it was in a pure white colour scheme now, and not the space shuttle theme previously :P

Going from DDT to TMP is always a huge change for me. TMP just feels so much harder on the car. On my first session out I had no confidence in the way my car was handling. My underdamped suspension combined with greasy feeling tires lead me into a four wheels off situation at T1 just three laps in. Luckily I didn't take any damage. I pulled into the pits and took a breather to gather myself and refocus.

I spent the rest of open lapping playing around with different lines (shallower, as I learnt on Friday). I also experimented with left foot braking at T4. I was indifferent to it as it had no impact on my lap times so I carried on with regular braking. After T11 I started short shifting into 3rd to carry more speed into the sweeping left hander T12. This change probably had the biggest impact to my lap times as my cornering speeds went up by ~10 kph.

My parents also came to visit me. I took my Dad out and he didn't even last 1 lap :| We spent more time doing up his harness than on the track lol. While we were busy laughing at my dad, xeno_impreza noticed that one of the clamps on my after-MAF hose was completely loose. Thanks man! We thought this would fix the CEL but it didn't. The CEL remained on for the entirety of the day.

At this point both my front and rear brake pads were running really low. I had nothing to gain from going out more as my tire pressures were dialed in and I felt that this was as good as the car was going to get. I didn't get too many hard runs in because of traffic and giving rides but I did manage to set a new personal best of 1:23.96. Finally in the 23's at TMP :)

Richard Nadeau was nice enough to give me a ride in his yellow bugeye beast. This thing is gutted and caged with home made aero. He's riding on HotBits DT2's and powered by an 18G-XTR. I was impressed with the HotBits' ability to soak up bumps. I'm not sure what his spring rates were but his car felt much softer than mine. He was able to drive over the pothole at T2 without upsetting the car and also take a different line through the chicaine which just wouldn't work with my suspension. I believe he was using the tire groove that RedScoobie eluded to in his journal.

Richard ended up doing a 1:20.4 with me in the car. I'm not a very good passenger and this is probably the closest I've ever come to puking in someone's car, lol. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to recover in time for the time attack. Instructing might not be my thing after all. Richard went on to win Unlimited AWD but unfortunately also managed to break his second 6-speed this year. Ouch!

Time Attack

Sloppy is the best way to describe my run. I even missed a shift in my final hot lap. In all of that chaos I still managed to pull a personal best of 1:22.93, although the official time shown at showed a 1:23.156.

Unofficial lap times:
Lap 1 - 1:24.31
Lap 2 - 1:22.93
Lap 3 - 1:23.81

Another 1st place finish in a small Street AWD class.

Car Trouble

Towards the end of the day we noticed some smoke coming out of my exhaust on start up. I was hoping the CEL would be something pollution related like the air pump, but the smoke meant it was probably something worse.

I had Monday off so I did some self diagnosis but I wasn't able to come to any conclusions. My car is at Can-Jam right now and I'm prepared for the worst. CSCS #4 marks my 22nd track day and despite 22 being my "lucky" number I guess I was due for some bad luck.

Edit: I just realized I forgot to count 2010 so it's actually more like 27th track day... w/e I'll probably lose count soon lol

Friday, August 17, 2012

[8/17/2012] HANSON School (DDT)

Event: HANSON International Driving School
Track: Mosport DDT (CCW 1 kink), Bowmanville
Weather Conditions: 23°C Sunny

My first time running this track configuration was at CSCS #3 earlier this year. I wasn't happy with my performance there especially with the uphill section of the track. I wanted another chance to practice this layout before the season was over so I called up Peter Hanson at the HANSON driving school and begged him to run the same layout. He agreed to run it for me. I was stoked!

Lots of Subys showed up this time (some missed the photoshoot sorry)!

I was placed in the advanced group and allowed to run without an instructor. But I actually wanted an instructor, as that would defeat the purpose of the school. So I requested one, and Peter said he would come out with me after he took care of some stuff.

In the mean time, I tried my hand out at the skid pad. Last year the only way I could get my car to oversteer was to do the Scandinavian flick. But I only remembered this after my first failed attempt:

I might not be ready for DMCC but hey it's an improvement over last year lol. I only did 4 runs because these tires need to last me two more time attacks!

Now it was time for the second advanced lapping session of the day with Peter as my coach. Here's the vid:

I must've impressed Peter with my driving because after our run he invited me to become an instructor! I was totally honoured and this pretty much made my day :D I told him I would think about it because I know there is a lot of responsibility behind being an instructor and I want to make sure that I'm ready before accepting such a position.

The classroom portion with Derek Hanson was eye opening to say the least. Some of the important tid bits I picked up were:

  • Too many people concentrate on the exit of a corner. But the entry of a corner is what separates the good with the best. Shallower entries allow for higher entry speeds.
  • Sacrificing linked turns is a misconception. The extra speed gained from taking a shallow entry will make up for the extra exit speed gained by "sacrificing" the first corner for a better exit on the second. You also travel less total distance by not swinging wide. The shallow entry also happens to have the largest radius.

At least that's what my interpretation of his rambling was :p CSCS #4 at TMP on Sunday would be a great place to practice shallower corner entry since some of the turns there are linked.

There was some discussion of the bucking issue I've been having as well. I was trying out a softer rear swaybar setting but it didn't seem to do anything towards the bucking. Although I think the overall amount of tri-podding has been reduced. Here's a GoPro view of the inside rear:

Some of the instructors, including Derek, were watching me on the track. Their comment was that visually they could see the car pitching back and forth. Derek is convinced that it's the center differential "vacillating" as it hunts for the proper torque split. But from my understanding it's locked at 50/50 on the WRX. Although going back to that one ride in Kwan's STI we did hear and feel the wonders of the Auto DCCD working through all the turns I struggled in. Another instructor said I should just buy a Porsche

Peter had previously mentioned improperly matched front and rear springs. That could be it too. And the fact that my dampers are underdamped would cause the car to bounce around as well.

I'm a bit sick of theorizing and chasing my tail with this issue. I could have all the horsepower in the world but if my car still handled like this through corners I wouldn't be happy with it. I think at this point I know I need better dampers so I should just get them first and go from there.

In the end, it was a great day hanging out with friends; some old and some new. And with no real drama other than my EZ-UP tent breaking from the wind lol

Ninja edit: I forgot to post my lap times!

Best lap times per session
Session 1 - 1:02.51
Session 2 - 1:02.54
Session 3 - 1:02.98
Session 4 - 1:02.09
Session 5 - 1:03.03

My best lap time from CSCS #3 was 1:03.31. Amazing how much of a difference improving that one section of the uphill made. Looks like I'll be able to sleep at night again :)