Wednesday, February 22, 2012

NASA Lap Dance @ VIR - First Win of the 2012 Season!


That's my best time of this past weekend. It's a full second off my previous best, and in arguably better conditions, but so much about the car has changed since October, and it's taking some re-learning. And of course, there was also The Incident...

I've covered some of the changes I've made during the off-season.  The wing, the new differential, the sway bars...  All told, they make the car very different to drive.   The clutch makes some small amount of difference, too, but my goals for the weekend were 2:  learn how to drive the new configuration, and experiment with wing settings.

I went into the weekend knowing there weren't enough registrations in my class to worry about actually competing.  The two other drivers that had signed up wouldn't bother competing if we didn't have 5 people total, so I anticipated an easy win and plenty of time to play around with the car.

What I didn't anticipate was losing a wheel in the warmup session.

I missed the wall by inches, but was fortunate to find everything I needed to get back on track within a couple of hours.  All told, I flat-spotted a rotor, lost 4 lugs, 4 studs, a wheel, and a backing-plate.  No other significant damage, and I had been running on last season's tires just to save equipment costs.

Also fortunate was the fact that I only had one student, allowing me all the time I needed to get repairs done without impacting anybody else's day.

When I got back on track, the priorities of the day had shifted to:  putting down a timed lap, and making sure the car was safe.  It was, and I slowly worked my way up to what turned out to be first of five, enough to win a tire!

Sunday was cold and wet, and only a very few people even ventured out in the TT sessions.  Of those, only the first session was dry enough to put down any sort of hot lap.  I settled for a 2:25, but it didn't matter because I was the only car in my class to go out on track all day.  So I got a win by default. It may not be glorious, but it's still 100 points for the 2012 season.

Next time to the track will be March 24 & 25.  I'm still looking forward to the opportunity to test the wing, but after pulling data and comparing with my previous best laps, it looks like there are a couple of seconds to be gained over my personal best (2:19.895).  For one thing, braking is far more stable, with no over-steer at all, and an average of 0.2 seconds reduction in the braking zones, coupled with slower corner-entry speeds.  Aside from when I lost that wheel, the brakes didn't even hint at locking up.  On the down-side, I'm running out of puff at 115 with the aggressive wing angle, and I need to learn to get off the brakes.

Overall I'm extremely happy with the setup.  With a little tweaking and a lot of seat time, I think it'll be a strong contender for the season championship.

Can't wait to go do it again!

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