Where on earth did the first half of 2014 go? More than half way through the year and we’ve only had one lousy visit to the track. It was none other than Wakefield Park of course since Luddenham is still a long way away, Marulan is too small and Eastern Creek events are just about as rare as legitimate odometer readings on JDM imports.
Six months and only one track day, what on earth could have been more important than smashing laptime PB’s? Modding our cars to get a better time that’s what! And of course surviving the tedious daily hum drum to sponsor those mods and keep the lady boss happy…
In April, the trak-life crew ventured down to the glorious Goulburn to set some things straight at yet another HSVOC organised day. Pearl and The Fridge represented as usual alongside Lee’s Evo 8 GSR, Johnny’s Mazda 3 MPS and Shawn’s S15.
Whilst the day didn’t start off the best as neither of us got an undercover spot meaning we had to change wheels on uneven gravel and leave things out in the open, that wasn’t going to dampen our spirit!
One minute and ten seconds was now old news, Pearl and I desperately needed to move on from that time… some changes were in order.
- A new thick 53mm Koyo radiator was installed to eliminate any previous overheating woes
- More power with a dyno tuned 197kW @ 1.1bar at the wheels via Nistune
- Hardrace rear camber arms installed and set to -1.5 degrees camber
- A change in melody with a Reinhard exhaust with titanium blast pipes
- Softest front swaybar setting for less understeer
Turn in was now sharper, there was more rear traction and more power to boot alongside with more cooling reliability. I was pretty happy with the new setup and was confident that I’d break the 1:10 barrier.
The trackday gods had other ideas though…
And so it happened on the evening before track day, Jay found out that Pearl was mysteriously leaning out on high boost – danger. Not being entirely sure of the cause, it was decided that a measly 0.8bar would be the max Pearl could safely run until the problem was resolved. Less power… oh noes how am I going to chop those pesky V8’s not to mention my PB? Sigh.
To her credit though Pearl held up amazing through the corners, her cornering ability much improved with the softer front swaybar adjustment and planted rear. And the noise oh the noise… with the rear baffles removed from the new Reinhard exhaust, Pearl easily bellowed out her tune over any other car on the track with her titanium blast pipes (Lee almost went deaf down the straight with the sound bouncing off the barrier).
Running on the low boost setting, I expected power would be lacking down the straight and corner exits but there seemed like something else amiss… instead of a surge of boost it felt like VTEC – all noise no power (I discovered the problem a few days later).
Throughout the day the leaderboard read 1:12, 1:11 and a few 1:10’s but no sign of a 1:09. It was a tad disappointing, but knowing I could still get a 1:10.4340 on sub optimal power was comforting.
Traction has always been a concern for Jay’s Fridge so a few adjustments were made to that department. A 2 way Kaaz LSD, 255 wide Federal 595 RSR’s on the rear and some pre-loved Bilstein shocks definitely helped with putting down the newly acquired power. This new power being in the form of a shiny new Hypergear SS2 mated to a Turbosmart External wastegate, (Jay’s long lost love)… sounds like everything was coming together.
On the track though, whilst the R33 was more poised in and out of the corners there was simply too much turbo lag to make efficient use of the new turbo. After all the setup wasn’t complete, bigger injectors and a bigger pump were needed to bring on boost more urgently. Jay really didn’t seem to mind too much though gating past straggling NA’s and clipping off milliseconds off his PB with a 1:16.7860 (although unfortunately he did end up breaking his front swaybar mount from coming off the track a few times).
Lee and Dylan were at it again in their shared Evo 8 soaking in some more track time with the intention of beating their previous 1:18 and 1:17 respective times. The Evo remained mostly unchanged (just new QFM A1RM brake pads) and still wore the same tired Pirelli Zero Nero’s. That didn’t stop a new PB of 1:16.9170 set by Dylan in the first session though! And definitely didn’t hinder Johnny getting a 1:15.1840 in the Evo while his MPS was resting between sessions. What’s more, Jay also had a crack in the Evo to see how he’d go (and to prove a point to a certain yellow bitch Alfa Romeo who doesn’t like to share the track) and ended up with an approximate 1:15 too!
It seems the responsive twin scroll turbo 4WD instills more confidence and driveability over the outdated RWD Nissans – is it time to move on?
The ever potent, ball tearing, giant killer MPS was out to play again representing the FWD platform in spectacular fashion. Still donning worn Kumho KU36’s, the only mods since last trackday were QFM HPX pads and swapping out leaking H&R coilovers for a BC set. Even with severe understeer evident on every corner, Johnny managed to beat his PB by 1 second in the second session with a 1:15.0360.
And swapping cars as you do, Jay hopped in towards the end of the day and set a cracker new PB of 1:14.7340 in the 2.3L beast. Surprising himself more than anyone else, you could say he was a little cut with setting better laptimes in other peoples cars.
Shawn’s S15 was back with some more power and grip thanks to a Nistune and Federal 595 SS’s all round. Although still not the best tyres for track work, they were still light years ahead from his previous rubber in terms of grip.
Whilst driving lines and braking confidence still needed overall improvement, Shawn managed to beat his previous time by 4 seconds with a 1:22.7660 in the final session… talk about leaving it to the last minute! Unfortunately though, the blue S15 won’t be seeing another trackday as it’s sadly since been sold. Which car will Shawn now get his redemption in?
A few days after this trackday I visited Northmead Performance Exhaust to get a mid muffler installed to quieten the old girl down. To my surprise the guys discovered that the mid pipe Reinhard provides actually has a 2.5” taper in it, restricting power I desperately needed for Wakefield! After swapping that out for a 3” item everything was sweet again, the S15 was alive and breathing happy.
And so it was a few days before my birthday in July I figured what better way to celebrate than with a new Wakefield PB. The crew were caught up doing their own things on a weekday so I daringly ventured out on my own to Goulburn… Never again.
The day was simply not meant to be.
Bad traffic, exhaustion and fuel woes severely hampered the drive down resulting in my arrival of 1:30pm. It wasn’t all bad though as there were still a few sessions remaining… that was until I tried starting up Pearl.
No matter how hard I tried she just wasn’t turning over. The last E85 refill at United Minto seemed to be making Pearl too lean on startup (that’s what we concluded afterwards).
You know that sinking feeling when you just want to slam your head into something and slump into a corner? Well times that by 10 and you will understand how I felt at that very moment.
So there I sat for an hour, lifelessly in the drivers seat, overcome with helplessness and defeat.
And then on the last session by some wicked divine intervention, she choked back to life. How? I didn’t care. I slapped on my helmet and punted it to the start line where I managed to squeeze in 5 useless laps – the semi’s didn’t even heat up!
If Murphy’s Law is true and alive then I made it a liar that day as I thankfully made it home in one go. I knew given the chance the engine would not start again so it stayed on throughout the most depressing tyre change ever. And most surprisingly, I didn’t have to resort to peeing in a bottle during the 2 hour drive (not that I would)… I am the master of my own bladder!
I will get my redemption… bring on the JDMYard October Trackday!
And to cap it all off, here’s some other random shots from the HSVOC day: