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      02-20-2014, 12:25 AM   #1
cat-like
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My Track day Experience Yesterday

I have done a track day of sorts before - I got a birthday present of the V8 experience thing at Barbagallo Raceway in 2012. It was really good as it was my first experience on a track, but there were negatives. I thought the guy in the passenger seat was ultra conservative and whilst I don't blame him for being cautious, his cries of BRAKE! BRAKE! BRAKE! before every corner annoyed me. I also didn't like that every time I got the car into a good rhythm, we would have to slow down for a slower car before overtaking.

I have been to a track day since as a spectator and one thing that was evident to me was the huge difference between the guys that knew the lines and drove to them really well and those that didn't. It was at that point that I decided to get some tuition before considering tracking my 135.

I looked at the MC Motorsport options at the circuit out near the airport. I could have done something in a group of 6 or 7 , but that didn't appeal to me. I then saw an option for 4 hours of one on one - SOLD! Fast forward to yesterday.....

Well I picked a great day, 37 degrees and a midday start. All I could think of sitting in the reception area was sweat and heat soak. A guy came up and introduced himself as Jurgen, my instructor for the day. Great start I thought, the name is perfect. "I'll bet you own the 1er outside" he said, "we are going to have a ball - the track is all yours for the day, there are no other bookings". OH YEAH!

The track is not exactly a traditional race track with flat kerbs etc, it is a shortish 1.6km with 7 bends of differing different challenges and good enough for me. I'm not sure if we followed the usual program but the day was broken into 6 track sessions (3 with Jurgen & 3 solo) and 2 PowerPoint & whiteboard lessons. The other times when we were waiting for the car to cool down, we basically talked about how the previous session had gone and what I needed to improve, the mods I had done to my car, cars in general and the cars he races. BTW, his daily driver is an E46 M3.

Jurgen was fantastic. I won't go into all the details but he explained everything so well and kept stressing the importance of weight shift in lieu of braking and steering as well as looking well ahead to enter corners, hit apexes and exit. It was disconcerting at first, my instinct was to look at the track in front of me and search for the centre of the track. Within a few laps I got the hang of it and wow - what a difference it made. I knew I had to look further ahead from my V8 experience but this was another level completely.

There were 2 sections that I couldn't quite nail perfectly - a sweeping right hander followed immediately by a tight left hander and a tight left hander followed by a sweeping right. On both of these at optimal speed, I felt I couldn't get the line across the apex without touching the brake and manipulating the steering wheel just a tad. Jurgen was adamant that by only backing off the accelerator briefly by 15 to 20%, that there would be enough weight shift to the front tyres to take the line. I nailed both of these suckers as instructed in my last solo session, let me tell you - the feeling of achievement and discovering something that your car can do like that is sooooo satisfying.

So, 6 sessions of 8 to 10 laps, depending on how the car was handling the heat plus cool down laps. I understeered into a corner once and it was not the car's fault, I took too much speed in. I also lost the back end once but again, it was not the car's fault, my line was too narrow. This was all about going as fast as possible and unlike my V8 experience, all I remember Jurgen yelling was FASTER! FASTER! FASTER! He probably said brake as well but I have a selective memory I didn't look too much at the dash, but I remember seeing a figure of 180km/h down the straight.

So what did I take away from this? Well it has to be a new found love for my car. If there were any doubts at all, they were dispelled yesterday. As long as I drove the right lines she stuck to the track like glue. When I got the rear subframe bushes done, I put a larger sway bar on the rear despite the forum consensus that this might be an issue on the track, I saw no real evidence of that yesterday either with or without all the electronic aids on. Maybe it could be better - who knows? Those brakes took a real pounding without missing a beat despite me exiting into a thick cloud of smoke after each session. Yeah the heat got to her a little, on a couple of sessions my signal to start cooling her down was a misfire like reaction on the main straight. As I said, I didn't look too much at the dash but from memory the oil temp usually got to 135 to 140 degrees.

It also highlighted the importance of focus. After getting used to things, speed was sort of irrelevant as long as I didn't lose focus. It's interesting that on the one occasion that I lost the back end, I had slowed down to ~70% to start cooling her down.

All in all it was a fantastic experience and I am struggling to think of too many things that I have done that were more satisfying - worth every penny.

Sorry for the long post and for probably boring the experienced track guys here.

I just can't get the smile off my face
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      02-20-2014, 12:49 AM   #2
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Sounds like an awesome day. Jurgen is good and it's a fun little track.
Watch out it becomes addictive
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      02-20-2014, 01:03 AM   #3
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Awesome. I'm not a fan of those series of corners, I took one of our karts out there one day when it wet and it was pretty fun to handle. Those corners start at about 55sec in the video below.

Have you done any of the days up at Wanneroo with No Limit Events? They are pretty relaxed and are on at night after work once a month.

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      02-20-2014, 01:29 AM   #4
Prodigy 72
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Great stuff Mark, sounds like you had a ball.

I've done a few track days there in a WRX and Golf R but yet to take the 1er out. Am expecting quite a different experience when i do though being rwd compared to awd of the other two.

As radium said you should try and do Barbagello if you can, had a track day there many moons ago in my old Honda CRX, great fun.
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      02-20-2014, 04:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RadiuM View Post
Awesome. I'm not a fan of those series of corners, I took one of our karts out there one day when it wet and it was pretty fun to handle. Those corners start at about 55sec in the video below.

Have you done any of the days up at Wanneroo with No Limit Events? They are pretty relaxed and are on at night after work once a month.

Nice video, very different to doing it in the 1er. I forgot to take my gopro

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prodigy 72 View Post
Great stuff Mark, sounds like you had a ball.

I've done a few track days there in a WRX and Golf R but yet to take the 1er out. Am expecting quite a different experience when i do though being rwd compared to awd of the other two.

As radium said you should try and do Barbagello if you can, had a track day there many moons ago in my old Honda CRX, great fun.
Well technically I've done Barbagallo but yes I plan at some stage to do it in this car. I'm sure it will be very different.....
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      02-20-2014, 06:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cat-like View Post
All in all it was a fantastic experience and I am struggling to think of too many things that I have done that were more satisfying - worth every penny.

Sorry for the long post and for probably boring the experienced track guys here.

I just can't get the smile off my face
Thanks for the enjoyable write up

Sounds like there might be a few 1ers in Perth - could be good for morale, technical expertise and friendly competition
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      02-20-2014, 06:30 PM   #7
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Good on you for getting some instruction first time out. If only everyone else would do that, trackdays would be much safer for everyone.

Also the money you spent on that will shave more seconds of your lap time than 5-10 times the amount of money spend on mods.

It is awesome when you work out a half a lift or slightly different line mean you can carry more corner speed and have a higher exit speed and shave several tenths of your time.
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