Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back on track

After a six-week wait, I was finally able to head back on track at St-Eustache on August 1st. It felt good, although I didn't break any lap records as I had hoped to with the new wheel and tire setup.

JAG was there to take awesome photos as usual.

In my first session, I was planning to take it easy to make sure the balance of the car had not changed with the new wider track (resulting from wider wheels with an aggressive offset, I calculate an extra 9 cm of track) and the fact that the rear tires are 20 mm narrower than the fronts, and a different type of tire. Any worries turned out to be unfounded. The car is as stable as ever, and I can “feel” the extra width. The heavy traffic prevented me from generating useful lap time data, and then someone sadly crashed (right in front of me) in the oval and the session ended.

In my second session, I lined up behind a stripped out Integra and a Porsche Cayman GT4, hoping to stay with them. It was not to be… I could not maintain their pace. As the Acura slowly pulled away from me, the Porsche just disappeared. The car again felt very stable, but the lap times were nothing special, in the high 1:02 range. The weather was hot, so it was hard to tell what a good lap time should be.

In my third and last session, I let a Honda S2000 pass me early on and attempted to keep up with him. He slowly pulled away as well. I was encouraged by some nice lap times showing up on my lap timer, including a 1:01.9, but this turned out to be an error. When I got home and superimposed the lap data over my video, it revealed the true lap time to be 1:02.59… quite a significant difference. I hope this problem can be solved with a more precise Bluetooth GPS unit. I will borrow Rob’s for this Saturday’s Club Civic track day at St-Eustache to see if it helps and if I should buy one. I find it quite disappointing to see imprecise data on my screen when I am trying to analyze my driving on track. For example, the display shows that I am in the green by several tenths, then jumps to several tenths in the red, instantly. This is impossible, and I find it really frustrating. One positive, if the data is correct, is that on my best lap of the 

I was often alone on track and had a lot of time to analyze things, in fact. I realized that I was physically comfortable in the car, and I’m no longer suffering from a lack of a race seat and harness. I just get the seat belt really tight and lock it that way, and it works.

I am also working on two things to improve my lap times: getting on the throttle early (and trying to maintain full throttle for as much of the lap as possible) and braking as little as possible for the corners. It sounds simple, but it’s not! The brake refresh has made the Civic’s braking spot on, and I hope it will remain so. The Hankook RS3 front tires make a good amount of noise, but I’m not sure if the loud noise means I am at the limit of grip, or over it, and if it means I’m overheating them. It’s clear that the car had less front end bit at the end of the sessions than at the beginning. There is still a lot for me to learn about turning in fast laps in this car.

One thing is becoming obvious though: I am no longer driving one of the fastest cars out there. Most cars are quicker. I knew this when I bought a 4000$ Civic as my lapping car, so I just have to deal with it and do the best I can do with what I have. Hopefully, reliable lap time data will help me meet this goal. Here are some of JAG's awesome photos.

I instructed this guy and drove the car for a couple of laps
A rare Cayman GT4 doing what it does best
More cool cars around town: V12 Ferrari anyone?

This 512TR still has a lot of presence
Still one of my favourites
I saw two of these in 2 days
Still one of the all-time greats!
Wheels maybe a bit too big, but still cool
A rare Mercury Marauder
Becoming rare: Corrado VR6
JDM Toyota Hilux Surf

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