Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chicanes - A Love/Hate relationship

                                                           Oops...I did it again...

     Been slacking on my write ups I know.  So, last weekend was PCD cold tire domination at NJMP Thunder.  I'm growing fond of this track (well turns 1-7...9-12 can suck it, just a terrible non flowing section I fail to get right every time).  The group behind this now annual event is a bunch of guys from that I have met through NASA events, great guys.  The attendance list was huge and I was going to be running in the intermediate group.  My personal goal for the day was to start the long road of working on my line, entry, exit etc (the basics) and just have fun.

     About a week before the event I had another wonderful alignment saga.  Long story short, I wasted a day sitting at a shop while they set the wrong settings and then on attempting to do it correctly found they apparently couldn't get my requested settings.  The problem here was that they were not even able to go back and match the settings the last shop supposedly set the car to.  Wound up realizing the factory camber bolts were set to MIN not MAX.  Out of frustration I ran home, flipped the bolts and ordered an SPC camber gauge with the toe gauge add on.  Time to go back to trying this myself (recall that I had bad tire wear last event again)! Started measuring and found the toe WAY out, hour or so and i got both sides set closer to zero and with less thrust angle than any shop...was having trouble getting believable camber settings though as one side seemed to have a much wider range than the other...I was really only worried about the toe anyway since the tires are basically dead.  On to the track...

     Rolled in Friday night by like 5pm, first time we did the ride with almost zero traffic!  Headed over to the track to get tech'd and hang out with the guys for a bit and had some of the guys who had experience with my alignment gauge help me check what I had setup (little fact - race track garages are built with very flat floors so race teams can do alignments...or so I'm told.  Turns out I got the car set quite well! 

      Saturday morning we got to sleep in for once since nothing started before 9am.  The weather was pretty clear, mid 40's temps but with a bitter wind to take just about ALL of the temp out of the track.  Started tires at 36psi cold and headed out.

1st Session - Took 5 or so laps and a slow pace to warm everything up and get my head in the game.  Started ramping up the pace and immediately the tires felt very slippery.  Nothing exciting happened, rolled into the paddock and checked tire pressures...45psi WOOPS!

2nd session - After airing down the tires to 38 hot I expected the car to feel much better.  Session start was delayed due to a Porsche laying down oil/blowing a motor/catching fire into turn one.  Pop quiz, who remembers my turn one oil incident from just a month ago? (insert sketchy memory here).  Finally got out on track and did 3 or so laps to get the tires up to temp, settled in and started an expectant "decent lap".  Slipped a little through the chicane but lap felt good, came back around, hard braking, turn into the chicane carrying a little more speed, make the flick to the left at which the car felt settled and gripped and then BOOM snap spin (the video above).  Rolled off into the grass and the car was difficult to start for 3-4 attempts but finally got it to fire with a little gas pedal pumping and rolled back to the pits.  Session over for me.

At this point we had lunch and I swapped off my RS3's assuming they are just heat cycled out/have too much damage at this point.

3rd/4th session - Car felt good and just turned some laps and tried to focus on a few things.  Things went well (see video below)

     Lets analyze the video a bit.  First 2 laps are earlier in the day, second two are later (so on smaller tires)
- I am over braking at points
- I need to start using more curb
- I am turning in late...A LOT

     The biggest ting though is that I am not consistent with my marks, but mostly turn in.  I think this is due to not keeping my eyes up high enough and finding my self with almost tunnel vision but unfortunately the unfocussed kind.  This will be a big area to work on next season.

     Thanks to my dad for some cool pictures as usual (apparently he reads this now).

     I have a bunch more things I'd like to get written, but I think I'm going to put together a season wrap up post in the next week or so.  Until then, keep it shiny side up.