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!