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.

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