Well 2011 has definitely been an interesting season so far. We got a late start to everything this year which meant our first lapping session of the season was also our first event. This is never a great way to start the season off, or to shake out any of the bugs you’ll always have after making so many changes over the off season. The first event of the season was CSCS Round One at Toronto Motorsports Park one of the tracks we frequent the most so at least we knew the track pretty well.
During the off season we made a lot of significant changes to the car increasing out overall horsepower, upgrading our braking package and adding some aero bits to help with high speed stability for some of the bigger tracks this year. With significantly more horsepower then in previous seasons there was a level of intimidation that I had not felt before, especially knowing that the event would be my first time out in the car. Also I was going to have to prep for the event myself as my dad was to be out of town meeting us at the track the day of the event. To add to that this is our first season using a trailer and this would be one of my first time loading and towing the car to the track! Luckily we got lots of support from our sponsor Dynamotorsports getting the car prepped and had lots of help from Family and friends to get everything packed up and ready to go.
Everything went smoothly getting to the track, and once we were there it was time to set everything up. I have to admit I love not having to drive the car anymore to the track. Getting to relax in a nice A/C truck and not have to worry about how I’ll get home if something happens makes me feel so much more comfortable at the track. Not to mention riding in the civic for long drives isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing ever, especially without any A/C!
Once we had everything setup it was time for our first lapping session of the day. I planned to use this session as a shake down run to make sure everything was working as expected. I spent the better part of the session feeling the car out, checking the gauges and picking some braking points to start the day off. Everything felt pretty good with the car, however I was noticing a rather soft brake pedal and seemed to be having issues heel toeing with my new race shoes whic seemed to make the braking issues even worse. I also forgot to pack my old shoes so I didn’t have any choice but to run the new ones.
Our second session of the day was spent getting used to the car and dialling up our speed. This was relatively easy to do with all the added power, the amount of power available at all points in the power band was mind blowing. The car was like a missile down the front straight. On my first hot lap I was using 5th gear for the first time ever at TMP. Unfortunately our braking issues kept up and plagued me for the entire session. Heading down the front straight in 5th gear going to grab the brakes and finding nothing is not the most settling feeling in the world. With my confidence shot, I decided to pick some earlier braking points and take it easy for the rest of the session just working on my apexes and getting a feel for everything else in the car.
Once the car was back into the pits we decided to look over the brakes and see what the issue was. We checked the lines, the pads, even checked to see if we had any air in the lines but everything seemed to check out. We had recently switched from Motul RBF 600 to Motul Dot 5.1 and we suspected that we were simply boiling the brakes and probably still had some air in the lines, though bleeding them didn’t seem to help.
We decided to go back out for another session to see if it had improved, unfortunately the brakes were the same. I decided to just get used to it, pick some earlier braking points and make the best of it. The car felt fantastic everywhere else, and our new MFactory Clutch Type LSD made driving the car so much more fun. Instead of fighting understeer in every corner on the tight TMP circuit I could plant the throttle and have the car pull itself through the corner. It made the entire event so much easier, and my arms were definitely thanking me afterwards.
With all that being said though, we still were lapping around the same as last year, in the mid to low 1:20s, which is not what we were expecting with the added power. The early braking points were killing our lap times, as I was having to let off at pit exit on the straight in order to make sure I could brake for turn one. Not only that but I just couldn’t carry enough speed through turn 1 to carry onto the second straight.
We decided to park the car until the timed sessions to ensure we didn’t make our braking problems worse. I spent some time watching the rest of the competitors and just relaxing with my family and friends. In one of the last lapping session for the novice groups a guy driving a borrowed RHD imprezza hit the hay bails coming onto the front straight and rolled his car over. Luckily he was wearing a helmet, though they are not required by CSCS (that soon changed afte this event).
When it came time for the timed runs I wasn’t expecting much and was just hopping to finish to be honest. My runs went on without a hitch and I was even a little bit quicker then in practice but still no where near where I wanted to be. Unfortunately that’s what happens when things change so much over tho off season and you don’t have any time to test.
I’ve definitely learned a lesson from all this to ensure we get everything finished sooner so we can get some testing time, and I think I’ve learned that we have to slow down the rate at which we’re changing the car as each change unsettles my comfort level and doesn’t always result in a faster car.
With all that being said, I have high hopes for the rest of the season and I know that with a few minor tweaks we should get all our bugs worked out.
I’ll be updating the blog in a few days with those changes and with the results of our last event at Mosport (spoiler alert we did significantly better).