Friday, May 27, 2016

A chilly start

This year started with very cold early April and early may weather. The first event was so cold I had to cancel a registration for the first time in years. Thus my very first time out on the new setup was an SCCA points event. Overall the spring has been less than kind to autocrossers. My experience so far has been:
  • NE-SVT #1: Registration filled up, was very cold anyway...
  • BSCC #1: 28 degrees F in morning forcasted, canceled. Snowed the day before
  • SCCA #1: Cool, dry, tweaking setup & trying to remember how to drive, but on a completely different feel... only 4 runs dsq due to sound 
  • Renegade #1 Cool, dry, slow tight course, car felt very loose 
  • SCCA #2: Cold, Rain AM, one Dry run in cool conditions afternoon, car felt better than previous (faster course? Aero helped by use of soft top?) 
  • TC USA #1: Cold, Rain AM, PM drying Couple Dry runs 
  • NE-SVT #2: Cool, Rain AM, Dry Afternoon, pavement warming quickly, first really good weather but only 3 dry runs b/c tires corded. 
  • NCR-Porsche #1: Cool, but dry and partly cloudy. High in mid 60's.
At the first SCCA event, My co-driver Brian was helpful in spotting the first issue to crop up, which was my front shock settings needed to soften a little. The initial turn in had gone numb probably from the increased sway bar setting. This was then followed by mid corner over steer. The net effect was that one turned in and began to compensate for under steer and just as you started to get that under control the car quickly went into mid-corner over steer. This wasn't actually disastrous, and could be caught, but it generally cost speed and distracted one from focusing on the line.  With changes we got it to the point where the oversteer was consistent and predictable, and thus more driveable. Then we got Disqualified for violating sound.

Subsequent testing with a sound meter in the following week (Thanks Jeff!) led to the belief that putting the closed end on the super trap would solve what appeared to be a highly directional exhaust sound problem. So far there have been no subsequent violations, but as noted above, the events have been less than ideal and rarely allowed me to fully utilize the car.

At the first Renegade event the weather was cold, and the course was very tight, rarely allowing speeds much above 45mph. In these conditions with no soft-top, the car was very loose and not very confidence inspiring. Ben drove my car and although he managed to shave over 4 seconds off my times, he concluded that the car was "just too loose" and lacked the "balanced feel" that it had last year.

After that things went wet on me. The next 3 events all rained for at least half the event. There were dry moments however, and interestingly the car felt more predictable than at the renegade event, perhaps this is because the rain had caused me to put the soft top on, and this decreased the turbulence, and improved the performance of the wing. The best conditions thus far came at the end of the SVT event, whereupon my tires promptly corded... (big sigh).

Luckily I had already ordered replacements and so I showed up at NCR porsche with brand new sticker Hoosier A7 tires. It took a couple runs to get them scrubbed in, and I started to get a feel for it by the final morning run but all runs were still dirty. Finally in the afternoon, I got what I had been waiting so long for a full afternoon on consistent tires with consistent conditions. First I equaled my fastest run with a clean time, then improved with cones then got a clean time a couple seconds faster and finally on my last run set a GOOD time, that would have been FTD for production automobiles, except I slightly clipped a cone with my left tire. It wasn't dramatic, but I did hear it and it totally counts, but it's also probably worth no more than a tenth or two, so while I had to settle for 5th raw time, 3rd among cars with doors.