Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Squeezing in some more track time!

I’ve managed to squeeze in a bunch of track time over the last couple of days, which is good, since I will not be driving on track again for a whole month!

On Sunday, we had the first ASE Time Attack at St-Eustache. I was hoping to dip into the 1:01’s again, but it was not to be. The conditions were ever-changing, which resulted in several tire changes for me, from rain tires to dry ones. My best time was a 1:02.49 on a mostly dry track (there was a dry line). In my class, I was beaten by two drivers in Jam’s Civic, Maxo in his Integra and Donat in his Golf GTi. Over all, the event was won by a cool Lotus Seven replica with a turbo Nissan engine, who was the only driver to dip down into the 57’s. Carl managed a lap in the 58’s. There was an excellent driver in a BMW 1M who managed a lap in the 59’s on the street tires that came with the car… very impressive. The 1M looks neat, like a well modified BMW, but the proportions of the car are still not that pleasing to the eye. Still, I’d hit that!

Yesterday, we had perfect weather for lapping. It was sunny and not too hot, and many people showed up, including 20 (!) instructors to take care of the many new students. I started off the evening with three students in a row, and wondered when I would have time to get out on the track myself! I drove a student’s BMW M6. I kept the DSC on, of course, and the car was on winter tires. Also, I didn’t use the full 500 hp in Sport Mode. It drove nicely, but I would not call the M6 a great track car. It is big and you can feel it. Still, the interior is nicer than in my M3 and it seems it would make a great high performance daily driver.

Eventually, I did get out in the advanced group. In my first session, I had some fun with the other advanced drivers, although I had a little moment when a Corvette ZR1 driver thought he could safely pass me at the “Oval-in” turn. I had to abort my turn and drive around the unused part of the oval. In the second session, I managed a lap under 1:02 (1:01.9 on the in-car, 1:01.684 on the data analysis) despite some sloppy driving in some corners. I am now convinced that with some consistent good driving, I can go under 1:01. I took some cool video and will try to edit it and post it on Youtube. After the second session, there was a serious noise from the wheel when I turned left. I thought it was maybe a rear wheel bearing, as my front bearings were recently changed. It turned out the right axle nut had come loose. We tightened it before the next run, but I think I killed the bearing while driving on the loose axle. Oops… more work for Marc! I know where my Civic will be staying during my vacation…

Speaking of Marc, he still has my M3. He found out that the problem causing the weird and extreme rear tire wear was a lack of proper alignment paired with a blown and loose shock. Ouch! At first I was going to order Bilstein shocks for the rear, but when he told me the front shocks were not looking great either, I decided to buy some Koni’s for all four corners. I hate spending money on maintenance for a street car, but I hate it less when the car is upgraded as a result. The car should ride nicely on new shocks!

In six days, Alex and I will be heading to China on vacation. We both feel we need a real vacation these days, so I really can’t wait to be on the plane! I just have about a million loose ends to tie up before leaving.

Cool cars spotted :

Ferrari California
Ferrari F430 Spyder
Lamborghini Gallardo
Maserati GT
Maserati Quattroporte
Aston Martin Vantage
Jaguar XKR
Jaguar XFR
Corvette Z06
Corvette ZR1
1965 Mustang
Shelby GT500
BMW M3
BMW M5
BMW M6
Porsche 997 Turbo
Porsche Boxster Speedster
Porsche 997 GT2(!)
AMG C63
AMG S63
Nissan Skyline GTR R32
Nissan GT-R

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