As 2013 winds up, it is only natural to reflect upon the years highlights… the two last trackdays being one of those highlights.
The biggest track upgrade of the year for Pearl was put to the test in the last two trackdays of the year which was the HSVOC trackday in October and a random Speed Off The Streets day in November; both held at the all too common Wakefield. It was an upgrade long overdue but Pearl finally got to wear some grippy R compound tyres or “semi’s” for short. The criteria was simple, I wanted the best so I’d choose the best. The best consisted of four tyre manufacturers though making the choice not so straightforward as initially thought. The Yokohama Advan A050, Hankook Ventus TD Z221, Dunlop Direzza 03G and Bridgestone Potenza RE55S tyres were the contenders. After plentiful research on the interwebs, the two important keywords “performance” and “value” were repeatedly discovered together revolving around one particular tyre… the Hankook Z221’s, it looked like I found the winner. Knowing full well most podium finish cars in last years WTAC 2012 donned the Korean rubber, it reinforced my decision even further.
Without delay (thanks to Hankook Australia for their assistance), four sinister looking treads were soon wrapped around my Advan wheels keen to make war with the gravel… to battle!
The trip down to Wakefield for HSVOC’s last trackday of the year was much more refreshed this time around with the crew cruising down the night before ensuring we got some good food and rest into us before the big day. The crew was slightly larger from our last visit too with Lee’s Evo 8, Shawn’s S15 and Buzz’s Focus ST making their debut alongside myself, Jay and Angus. Wasn’t just the drivers though as we also had much more supporters and spectators too! With nothing else changed except for tyres, I was uncertain on how much I could really improve on my previous 1:13 laptime. All my concerns were soon laid to rest soon enough when my Qstarz GPS timer reported a 1:13 on a cruisey warm up lap, which bear in mind was on tyres that haven’t even been worn in yet… just imagine my sheepish grin. Now stretch that grin two inches wider each side when I stopped the clocks at 1:11 at the end of the first session, two seconds improvement straight off the bat! Ecstatic as I was, I knew there was still much more work to be done. To their credit, the Hankook Ventus TD Z221 medium compound tyres are amazing. Very little warmth to get them going and they hold to the ground like their life depended on it. But with Pearl now ascended to the next level, it was now up to me to follow suit as the driver. With all this newfound grip it meant I could brake later, carry more speed through a corner and accelerate earlier corner exit; I now had to reset and improve my way of driving to push the limits once again. The fear of spinning out was now a repressed memory and Pearl felt like she could take on the world. Although understeer was still an issue, it was manageable allowing me to keep up with some big horsepower cars like this R35 through the corners. As much as we tried to break the last double digit, our best was a 1:10.2210 which I was still completely stoked about.
For some completely whack reason we thought swapping my old Falken Azenis RT615 tyres used on SKY-180 and Pearl’s debut was a sound idea for Jay’s Fridge who struggled with the Federal 595SS’s last visit. What we didn’t realise though, was that the compound had massively deteriorated over time ultimately leading to plenty of unwanted sideways action on the track (even when Jay was trying REALLY hard not to spin out… so he says). Add extra power to the equation from a recent ECU retune and it was a recipe for disastrous laptimes and brown seats.
Subsequently whacking on my street GT-C’s on the rear sporting worn Federal 595 RSR’s, Jay set about attacking his previous 1:19 laptime. And attack he did, sporting a new PB of 1:16.8610.
From all the teasing and trash talk that resulted from his previous trackday (averaging a 1:22 laptime in an Evo X MR), Angus silently told us to shove it after he improved drastically marking a PB of 1:15.0860 for the day. Having turned off stability control as a result of feeling more comfortable out on the track and keeping the pedal firmly flat to the floor more often than not, Angus clocked in consistent times throughout the day with his still bone stock setup. Good work!
After hearing myself and Angus rambling on about trackdays and car setups tirelessly at work, Buzz knew he just had to eventually give it a go with his shiny new Ford Focus ST. Being stock, FWD and not JDM, we speculated cautiously from a distance. But this German bred hot hatch was no slouch, and with a daring Buzz behind the wheel they managed a 1:16.8070. Great time considering the car was stock as a rock, it was his first time on the track and he only drove two out of the four timed sessions. But he did have the advantage by grabbing me at every given moment to either sit passenger with him or give advice on his driving style.
As a passenger in the shiny new ST I must say the car feels sharp, firm footed and has great turn in stability with a hint of oversteer… plenty of potential here!
After putting up with all my track stories, Lee’s lightly tuned Evo 8 shared with Dylan came out to see what all the fuss was about. Being first timers, they both eased into it yet clocking in decent times… Dylan checking in with a 1:16 and Lee with a 1:18.6720. This 4G63T made plenty of power leaving everyone in the dust down the straight, all is needed now is more tracktime and corner confidence.
We all know how much tyres can affect laptimes and unfortunately for Shawn’s S15, his street radials just couldn’t cut it out on the track. The narrow tyre width paired with a high treadwear tyre shattered confidence with frequent spinouts. Shawn has since gotten new treads and is ready to make a comeback!
The HSVOC was another great day, not just because the trak-life crew was attendance but also because we got a sneak peek at some competing WTAC cars doing their shakedowns. The BPG R32 and RX7 and the Heasmans S14 were out to play and put down zippy 1:03, 1:08 and 1:04 laptimes respectively.
Having the itch for one more trackday before the end of the year, I set out with first timer Johnny in his MPS for a Speed off the streets day in November. My hidden agenda was also to break into the 1:09’s with a retuned ECU thanks to Jay’s Nistune abilities. But alas it was not meant to be, scorching temperatures hovering about 35 degrees lead to plenty of overheating and heat soak resulting Pearl and I only punching out constant mid 1:10’s all day.
Johnny’s MPS fared much better though lapping other crawling track goers several times with his PB of 1:16.115 for the day. He definitely must have been paying attention as passenger on the HSVOC trackdays as that’s a great result for a suboptimal day.
This is no ordinary MPS though, with upgraded swaybars and Kumho KU36’s trying to tame 200+kw at the wheels there’s plenty of get go and front end stability. Will be interesting to see how much more can be pushed from this FWD beast considering it is currently the quickest car out of the trak-life crew.
2014 will be host to more exciting trackdays and we’re keen to see how much more we can improve. More mods, more training, more frustrations, more triumphs… It’s all part of the fun.
Two of us have already received power upgrades from ECU tuning and Jay has a new turbo setup on the way so we say bring it on 2014!