Friday, May 22, 2009

Porsche Club of America Spring DE at VIR - Day One

Today began beautifully, with ambient temps around 58F. Drivers' meeting was quick, classroom session even quicker, and, since I was a good boy and set up my paddock space very carefully the night before, we were out onto the track in no time.

My instructor, Ken Wilkinson, was the first instructor I've ever had who actually drives a Miata. The tips he gave were invaluable, and by the end of the second session, he was ready to sign me off for solo driving.

We rode together one final time, with him quizzing me on what I was looking at at any given moment, what the corner workers were doing (while I'm going 100mph and steering), and generally keeping me on my toes.

Then, for the last session of the day, I was all by my lonesome. We had a bit of a problem with one white Porsche GT3, who apparently was overwhelmed. In the very first turn of the very first lap, he/she began Turn 1 (a right), and just turned left. Into the dirt. When they rejoined, they were unwilling to give faster cars the point-by, resulting in a 70mph train of race cars in the climbing esses. Boo.

Anyway, after about 3 laps of this, things cleared out, and I picked up an E36 M3 to duke it out with for a few laps. I let him by me on the back straight on one lap, and should never have seen him again, but since he didn't seem to be moving away from me, I figured I'd see if I could run him down. Testing the absolute limits of adhesion (and common sense), I caught up to him and passed him within 2 laps. In a Miata! With a restrictor plate!!

But it's clear that this has as much to do with the car's prep this year as with my own personal prep. The new exhaust is forcing me to use 5th gear on both long straights, and I could probably justify using it in the climbing esses. I keep running out of 3rd gear in the "slower" parts of the track, too. Rock on!

Random data points:

Fastest observed speed: 112mph
Highest measured lateral G's: 1.05
Highest measured braking G's: 0.93

Both of those G readings should be higher. I have some experimenting to do tomorrow!

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