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In a word, WOW!

For my instructor, as luck would have it, I was paired with owner the Porsche shop I use. He has track and racing experience going back 30 years, has prepped and tracked multiple Caymans. His current car is a 2013 Cayman. To say he knows the car is an understatement.

He did the first few laps in my car with me in the passenger seat. The cornering capability of the car was just astonishing to me (and something I couldn't even approach in my driving sessions).

Later, I went for a ride in his car on R compound tires. Absolutely mind-blowing. Total control of the car, right at the limit. Braking with extreme authority, well past my point of comfort. Pitching the car into the corner. Managing slip angles, then nailing the throttle to stabilize it and power out. AMAZING. I'm still in awe seeing what a talented/experienced driver can do on the track.

But the driving experience...wow. Things happen so fast, and there's so much to process, it's a bit of sensory overload. I've always considered myself to be a very competent driver. On the track, wow, just a completely different story. This stuff looks so easy in video games when you're sitting on the couch.

My run group was a mix of novice and intermediate students, mostly Porsches and BMWs. I passed plenty, I got passed by plenty (all with point bys). Parts of the track I felt like I was getting down really well (turns 3-5). Others, I consistently struggled to get right (turn 6-7 combo after a fast straight). I need more seat time!

Now for the not so good...we experienced a technical glitch. A pipe on my turbo manifold failed after the third session. That leaves me without boost pressure (probably not a bad thing), but it's too close to the engine to be safe to track (repeated WOT) without the piping intact. The guys from the Porsche shop were awesome trying to come up with a fix in the garage, but we couldn't get it welded or patched today, so it looks like the Porsche will be sidelined for the rest of the track weekend. :(

I may have the option of switching to the S2000 and running a few sessions tomorrow. Only problem is, it's not quite what I'd consider track ready on a few hours notice. It needs a brake flush (which we could do at the track), the alignment is questionable (old, and I think the rear suspension has settled a little since I had it done), and it has a slight pull to the right under acceleration (since recently replacing rear tires). Plus, they may or may not clear me with the factory roll hoops (gotta pass the broomstick test). So tomorrow I may very well just be a passenger.
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Warning, long post!

Okay, that was an awesome weekend!

On Day 2, I showed up at the track not even knowing if I'd get to drive. We went over the S2000 and they decided it would be eligible to run with the stock roll hoops. I'd just have to keep the top up, as arm restraints are required to run top down. Not a problem. Thankfully, I also had DW's blessing, as the S2000 is now her daily driver. ;)

Due to the last minute car swap, I missed the first student session. We did a brake flush, cleaned out the car, applied my numbers, firmed up the suspension (car has adjustable bilstein PSS9s), and (rookie mistake) had to gas up. The car has drilled/slotted aftermarket rotors, but unlike the Porsche I was on stock pads.

Session 2 I finally got out on the track. My instructor told me in all his years of instructing this was the first time he'd sat in an S2000. He just asked me to take it easy the first few laps so we could feel the car out. I was immediately more comfortable in this car. 1/2 the horsepower (much less scary) and 10 years of daily driving familiarity really helps. Things happen slower, there's a bit less speed carried into each braking zone.

My instructor commented after the session that I was driving much smoother and more consistently. After the even better next session he commented that parking the Porsche may have been a blessing in disguise as far as my learning curve as a driver. I have to say that I agree. And, after watching my videos from day 1 and talking with some of the other drivers about braking and turn in points, I started getting the 6-7 combo right. They key is that I was comfortable, not feeling intimidated.

In the second session, I had my first major correction of the weekend. I had caught a slower car, and while waiting for a passing opportunity, a grey 911 had caught us. We both got a point by on the next straight. Now, I tend to run the straights a little easy (shifting before redline, rolling out of the throttle earlier than necessary), but when passing I need to put the pedal down so I can complete the pass and get back on the line for corner entry. This time, with the 911 on my tail, I came in too hot for that turn (as luck would have it, turn 6). I failed to scrub enough speed before my turn in point, but I still went for it, hoping it would stick. While lightly trailing the brake. Of course, the rear end stepped out.

Now, I've had a car sideways plenty of times, usually intentionally in an empty parking lot, generally on wet pavement. But, I've certainly never explored limit handling on dry pavement at ~60 mph. But here, even with the rear sliding, I still had control of the car. With a gentle counter steer it started to come back in line. I eased up the counter steer, but the rear end still wanted to swing. One more slight correction (and a little more speed scrubbed) and it all came back together. No pendulum swing, no further drama. I was back on the throttle and headed to turn 7. Gave the 911 a point by on the following straight. Only then did my instructor speak up - "So, do you know what you did wrong there?". Yep - distracted by the car on my rear, failed to adjust my braking point for the additional speed I was carrying, and failed to get off the brake and settle the car for turn in.

That whole sequence was just an amazing learning experience. Counter steering felt so intuitive. I never felt like I was out of control. It seemed like the slide lasted 4-5 seconds, although in reality it was only a fraction of that. When I got back in the paddock, I immediately went and found the 911 driver and apologized for getting out of shape with him right behind me. He dismissed my apology, told me I did great hanging onto it, and he had left me plenty of room just in case.

By the third session, around 3pm it was getting really hot, probably 90+. I was getting around pretty well, adding speed. Found (and exceeded) the limit in turn 11 one lap, but caught it much quicker this time (see, I'm learning). About 20 minutes in, I entered the braking zone for turn 8, needing to scrub from ~100 to ~40 for a near 180 hairpin. While the pedal felt solid, it took significantly more pressure than normal to slow the car. While I've never experienced ths before, I assume this was temperature fade in the OEM pads. I immediately told my instructor, and we took a slow pass through pit lane before re-entering the track. It seems that was enough to let them cool the brakes, and they were fine for the next 3-4 laps until the session ended.

Overall, a great weekend. Met some really cool people, saw some REALLY nice cars. I strongly suspect my best laps in the S2000 were probably faster than my Cayman laps on day 1. Seat time matters more than the car right now. I even managed to pass a few cars that should be faster than the S2000 - a slightly older 911, an e46 M3, a C5/C6 corvette (he walked me on the straights, but gave me a point by after a lap of me in his mirrors in the turns). Must be doing something right!

We're already looking at the calendar for a future track weekend. Amazingly enough, DW wants to enter as well!
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I'm glad you had a good weekend. Congrats!

Things happen slower, there's a bit less speed carried into each braking zone.

This is just a perception thing. You will get used to the pace of the action with more seat time. If you want to completely eliminate this as an issue, run a few autocrosses. The pace there will make race tracks feel like driving in slow motion.

No pendulum swing, no further drama.

Tire characteristics have a lot to do with that. One of the tire characteristics that I really appreciate, but is hard to find, is a tire that behaves the same way while entering and recovering from a slide. Most tires produce a very sudden increase in grip while recovering from a slide, which can snap the tail around in a flash. I hate that. The current generation of Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, in all variants, are quite good in this respect. I have burned up several sets of GS-D3, Asymmetric, and Supercar variants, and I really like all of them.

While the pedal felt solid, it took significantly more pressure than normal to slow the car.

That's pad fade. The other type of brake overheating is fluid boil. If that happens, the pedal goes spongy and travels farther than usual. The only fix for that is to bleed the calipers.

Neil
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There is a special kind of a joy driving a car that is a 5 on the 1 to 10 insane scale at 9/10ths than driving a car that is a 7 on the 10 to 10 insane scale at 8/10ths. Less power can be incredibly more enjoyable on the track.

The G8 scares the bejesus out of me with 394 HP under the right foot and two-tons of mass. I need to do another HPDE session - I'm feeling it.
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Tire characteristics have a lot to do with that.
Mine (on both cars) were Michelin PSS's.
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The G8 scares the bejesus out of me with 394 HP under the right foot and two-tons of mass.

Glad it's not just me. My Cayman is ~3000 lbs and 450 HP. I totally get what you're saying about driving a slow car fast vs. a fast car slow.

BTW, you're still first in line to say "I told you so". It is in the shop right now having the manifold fixed, lol.
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Mine (on both cars) were Michelin PSS's.

I just put these on my GT3 for my street tires (with some light track) and I've got to say that I've been very impressed. They may just displace the Bridgestone RE11 as my favorite street tire. One thing about fun tires is that they wear out so fast you get a chance to try them all.

Sorry I just got to this thread (and your previous one). Sounds like you had a great time! It's all downhill from here. You're just about eight rationalizations away from a tow vehicle, hoosiers, harnesses, and a HANS. :)

Nugget
has avoided the tow vehicle so far
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BTW, you're still first in line to say "I told you so". It is in the shop right now having the manifold fixed, lol.

Snort!!!
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Well, got the car back from the shop last week. There was evidence of prior cracking which had been patch welded at this spot (between the manifold and wastegate. They removed and cleaned the wastegate, cut out the bad pipe section, re-welded a new piece into the turbo manifold (all stainless pipe), and fabricated a bracket to help support the wastegate to avoid future issues. Good as new for about $600. Very reasonable for a Porsche shop, IMO.

I realized I never did come back and post pics...here's a couple from the weekend.

Cayman
http://i39.tinypic.com/2qjy3yb.jpg

S2000
http://i40.tinypic.com/2zjlvyx.jpg

Turn 4:
http://i40.tinypic.com/dbnl3p.jpg
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...There was evidence of prior cracking which had been patch welded at this spot (between the manifold and wastegate...

Ah-huh. ;-)
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Ah-huh. ;-)

Well, seeing as how this is a non-OEM part, it's hard to pin this one on perceived Porsche reliability. ;)
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I remember my first one. Figured I would do it once just to check it off my list. By the third session Saturday I knew I was addicted.

Lots of lessons learned since then, but the most powerful of them all for me was learned early on. When the rear starts to step out under power, do NOT just instinctively yank your foot off the throttle. Took me four or five spins to learn that one, but I finally reprogrammed my instinct.

Glad to hear you had so much fun!

xtn
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