Friday, May 19, 2017

BMW HPDE at Tremblant... no laps for me

Monday I took a day off from my day job to instruct at a BMW club event at Tremblant. I loaded up the Civic and headed out at the crack of dawn. Just as I was about to head out on track for my first session, one of my brake hoses failed. It had clearly been rubbing on something, maybe the wheels I used to drive to and from Calabogie? I called around the parts stores and no one had a replacement (I had spares at home... DOH!). I ordered the part at the local Canadian Tire, but it would only arrive at 4:00 pm. At least I only had a single student to instruct. I drove maybe 5 laps in his Golf GTi, it was better than nothing. I installed the new brake line in the Canadian Tire parking lot and drove home. When changing the opposite brake hose(to have the same model on each side), I broke the bolt that holds the hose on the caliper. I ordered a replacement from the Honda dealer yesterday, but they screwed up my order and I won't get it until Tuesday. The car is parked for now, with no front brakes.

There were many cool cars on display, as usual, including all generations of M3. Here are a few pics:

Car spotting...

Aston Martin N430 (I think)
I really like the M2
Rare Cadillac Coupe
Becoming more common at the track: S2000
My group at the St-Eustache AISA school
The Civic, ready for action on track
Tastefully modded FRS
Still one of the most exotic looking cars on the road

Looks good from every angle
Scrape much?
I miss the 6.2 liter V8, but these are still nice
Beautiful luxury cars, I'll take the Jag
Super clean E30 with tasteful mods
Polestar in its signature colour
Increasingly rare: 944 Turbo
Increasingly common: Focus RS... cool colour!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spring is here!

I only got my completely assembled Civic back last Wednesday night, 3 days before the first AISA race school at St-Eustache, which also happens to be my first chance to take the car out on track this year. I took the car to the alignment shop on Friday, and I hoped that was all it would need to be track ready. The car was on the same tires as last summer, and I had thrown on some mystery brake pads I had found in my basement to avoid opening a new set just before winter.

Unlike other years, almost no instructors had brought their track cars to take them out at lunch time. Dave G. had brought his Chumpcar Civic EG. I foolishly thought I would be able to keep up with his Civic, but it turns out he's 3 seconds per lap faster than I am at St-Eustache! I guess I should't be too surprised: his car has a similar engine to mine but weighs about 700 pounds less than mine. 

Anyway, I headed out for my first session on Saturday during the lunch hour. There were a few puddles on track, but not on the racing line. It was drizzling a little bit, but there was no real water on the race line. Given that my best lap ever was a 1:01.8 in this Civic, I was hoping for 1:03's in these conditions. This would also by my first recording with my new (used) GoPro camera. I installed it on the inside of the sunroof. I like the camera angle, except that the rear view mirror is in the middle of the shot, whether you use the wide angle lens or not.

From my first laps, I could feel the difference of the limited-slip differential coming out of the slower corners. As for the gearing, it felt right to just leave it in 2nd gear in the two slower corners (I spoke to Dave afterwards, and he told me he used 2nd... something to try out I guess). After a few laps, my times were dropping. For a while, I seemed to be stuck at 1:03.1, and I really wanted to get into the 1:02's at that point. After a while, everything came together and I managed a 1:02.2. I was very happy, given the conditions. I felt that I would clearly be able to go faster than my best time in better conditions.

On Sunday, it was warmer and sunny, and the track was completely dry. I expected to easily beat my Saturday time. It turned out to be harder than expected. After 30 laps, the best I could do was 1:02.1. I was clearly overworking the front tires, just like last year, and although I could improve my last sectors (by taking the oval-in flat out), I was losing time in the esses and Carousel. As a result, I managed several laps in the 1:02.1-1:02.2 range, but could not break into the 1:01's. I was quite surprised, considering how quick I was on Saturday. I guess the cold weather was helping a lot. I don't know if these tires are "toast" after spending the winter outdoors or if I need to use 2nd gear to get a better lap time, or if my driving was just too sloppy. I need more data! I was getting some brake fade after the end, and will really need to bleed the fluid before my next time on track. I noticed that Dave was running the new 245-40-15 Hankook RS4 on a 15x8 wheel (same size as my green ones), and that the tire seemed to fit nice and square. This is good news for me, as it means I too should be able to run this tire size on my own wheels without issue.

Here is a short video of one lap from each day:

Other than the disappointing lap times (I still need to shave those 2 seconds to make it into the 59's), the car performed well and reliably. The oil level didn't move despite 50 laps of track driving. The car feels more like a race car with the repaired motor mounts and LSD. I can't wait to drive it on track again! Maybe next Monday, if the weather agrees?

 photo 18076486_1386584178054232_6916183329319920101_o_zpsrfybc0kj.jpg
Photo by JAG Imaging

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring is almost here...

This post was drafted in March but I forgot to post it.  When I started this post, we were not done with the snowy season yet (see photo at the bottom of the page).

Jules at the Cabane à sucre
Oscar at the Cabane à sucre... he didn't love the food
Great winter car
Great all-season car
This Integra reminds me of my buddy Rob, who owned a couple of these in the 90's and 2000's
Cool colour for the M2
Stealthy family performance car!
Two RS7's parked together
The i8 still looks like a car from the future
A rare sight: a modified Lexux IS-F
Maybach S-Class
And its competitor, the Bentley Mulsanne
I quite like it
Total sleeper: Audi RS6 V10
I don't know what's going on with the roof of this Element... is it a camper?
Ur-S4, a great winter beater
Our car, after a long Sunday drive through a snow storm

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cool cars you see at the track

While we're still waiting for the 2017 track season to begin, here are a few paddock photos from 2016 showing some of the coolest cars I spotted at the track last season. Enjoy!

Crazy tube-framed Corvette at Mosport
Another crazy V8 at Mosport: wide-bodies Triumph TR8
Amazing Viper ACR at St-Eustache
The first time I spotted a new Focus RS was at St-Eustache
A Cayman GT4 (and a certain Civic!)
Two NSX's at the Club Civic Quebec day at St-Eustache
A lovely E30 M3 at the BMW Club HPDE at Tremblant in May
Nice 964 at Tremblant
My favourite colour for the E92 M3
Tastefully modified 993 at Tremblant
... and a tastefully modified early Lancer Evolution
Factory Five Cobra Daytona built for the track
Lotus Exige with a serious wing
The sweet-sounding Shelby GT350 (I believe this is the one I got to drive)
996 GT3 at Calabogie
Even stock, the GTR looks mean
Unexpected track car: Chrysler 300
Charger Hellcat
This is the 991 GT3 I actually got to drive on track
Another cool early Evo spotted at the track
Very clean 2nd generation Toyota MR2 Turbo owned by my friend Stéphane
A Ford GT at St-Eustache
Serious-looking C-7 Corvette