Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updates to the car and a few fall events...

Stuck at a hotel in Orlando for a conference with a bruised rib or maybe cracked (I’ll find out after a xray tomorrow) i said to myself "well...what better thing to do then to catch up with my blog...!" :)

Oh.. how did i hurt my ribs...? well i had presentation at 3:30pm and after that i found myself with a bunch of co-workers deciding to hit a local karting track close to the convention center.

And...what a great track that was! Especially the fact that they let us race even when it started down pouring... may i remind you it was dark, lights on the track and a crazy rain fall...! we got completely wet as we hit giant puddles of rain tires of course either. As the rain intensified the puddles got bigger and bigger... at one point one of the hairpin turns was completely under water, and hitting those turns drifting was a great experience... the fact that it was dark, and we had to wipe water off our helmets visor almost every 5 seconds to see where we were going...was an intense experience...definitely a day to remember! :)

But lets get to mods/updates i have done to the car since my last autox event in July... well the first thing i tackled was to actually get rid of the skinny 175 front tires (which meant understeer) and replaced them with 195s. Doing so i also changed the rubber on all 4...and went with A048 which is the tires that come with the sport-pack Elise and all the diffrent flavours of Exiges out there.

I have to say, the tire changes alone...almost gave a me a totally new car. Overnight the understeer was a thing of the past... the car became very balanced and predictiable. "These tires are amazing....!" i said to my self when i hit the last autox of the season with Track Club USA at the end of September.

Since i had more grip now on the front, i stiffened up the sway bar to make sure the new grip did not bring snap-oversteer (Blackwatch autox sway bar 2/5 to 3/5 stiffness setting )

During the autox, i tried diffrent tire pressures, and actually found that 26f/29r (hot) seemed to provide the most predictiable grip... and the higher rear pressure allowed me to rotate the car with throttle easier. During the event we had 2 more Lotus's (a 2007 Exige S, and 2011 Evora)...

Now keep in mind the Exige S has the same tires, better suspension, and ofcourse a supercharger (240hp compared to my 190hp)... and i was ~3.5 seconds faster at the end of the day :) Ohh... the Evora was slow as expected with 6 seconds diffrence.

Here is the helmet-cam fastest run for the day:

Prepping for first track day

After the autox...i decided to prep the car for its first track day :)
The stock Elise out of the factory, has know issues that absolutely needs to be addressed before a track day.. So i focused on the most known issues (thanks to forums)

Oil starvation issues : gPAN - Baffled Oil Pan
Toe link failure : RTD2brace
Broken gear shift cables : SSC Cable

Once i got the car a bit more prepped for track use, i signed up to a HPDE event at NHMS (the event was for South Oval - Road course) via COMSCC which i had heard great things about from my autox buddies. Not only are they cost effective, but they provide a instructor for rookies(like me) for the full day for a very low price for 225$.

Also if this is your first event, you get a $100 discount...!

They also have time trials the second day, but i did not sign up for that because first you need to get a license(signed by the chief instructor) and i was told that usually takes a couple instructor sessions/days.

The day is very nicely planned... you arrive at 7am, if rookie get a student log book, get assigned a instructor (they specifically picked a instructor who also drives a mid-engine car for me)...and switched between 20 minute class-room sessions and 20 minute-track sessions (with instructor riding along with you).

I found the class room sessions pretty useless at first as all i needed was more seat time. But the class room sessions in the afternoon had a interesting nice suprise. While we were out on track, another instructor (without letting us know) actually followed us in his car, and recorded our line and our actions from his dash...which we went over during the class room... definetly helped with lines/and pointers! Great stuff!

Anyways, because i was in run group 4... i found my self stuck %80 of the time behind traffic, and had to wait for "point-bys"...lets just say not everybody checks out their mirror!... but i was able to get a few clean laps in, here is a video of that (this time not helmet-cam, but mounted to the car)

At the end of the day the instructor fills out the student logbook, and makes recommendations for further improvements... in my case i got all flying stars and was recommended for a license pending demonstration on improving my heel-n-toe next time... which was spot on,, as that is one area i need more practice! :) Well atleast i got promoted to a higher run group for next time... now time to go to bed and hopefully my ribs feel better tomorrow!