Following the soggy sessions of the month prior, I took Blackzilla back to Castrol Raceway for the Labour Day Long Weekend track day. The skies were endlessly blue, the radiant sun glew,i and the ambient air temperature was a pitch perfect 21C too.ii Even the black beast from the far east was in fine form, still pushing hard on his used Bridgestones that I was sure would’ve scrubbed down to the wear bars by the end of the 1st track day but just kept gripping.iii
Heading out with Instructor Dave – a recently retired architect and TT-RS driveriv – in the passenger seat, we completed 2.5 hot lapping sessions together before he let me loose on my own around the 2-mile circuit for the remaining one-and-a-half. It’s considered something of a priviledge for a novice to drive the track sans instructor, but I have to say that I preferred his feedback from the co-pilot seat. He was attentive, relaxed, and of the same mind-set as me : that precision trumps speed and that the speed will come.v Not that I could even lay down the full can of beans down the straights. Even with the traction control in RACE mode, the GT-R’s power was automagically trimmed down the high-speed sections between the kink and turn one, and between turns two and three. Not being accustomed to this full-throttle let-down and only having so much confidence in my new samurai steed, I thought I’d cooked its electronic brains, sent it into “limp” mode, and would soon be calling AMA for a tow to the mechanic. Alas, I soon noticed that the traction control warning light was subtly flickering on the dash to tell me that it was the nannies interfering rather than providence. This was something of a relief, but 600hp was still no small matter to handle with the TC completely turned off, so in RACE mode I stayed, judging the throttle as best I could to dance around the electronic police and leaving full TC OFF for another day. UPDATE 12/09/17 : The occasionally flickering TC light might’ve been part of the cause for the power loss, but not all! Looks like this is a not uncommon problem relating to corrupt COBB mapping files, vacuum hose leaks, or low octane fuel. All three areas are being reviewed at present.
The used Bridgestones have another track day in them, at least, stretching my $1`000 investment pleasingly longer than expected,vi but it will soon be time to swap track rubber for winter rubber. This Indian Summer can’t last forever.
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- Throw becomes threw, so glow becomes glew. Sue me. (And neveryoumind show, mow, tow, row, etc.) [↩]
- Even with these temperate ambient air conditions, I saw upwards of 113C transmission fluid temperature after the third and fourth sessions. The other GT-R in the novice group saw 124C but he also had another 100hp to the wheels. Still, anything under 130C is golden for these machines, although anything over and above 140C requires immediate replacement of both trans and diff oils. [↩]
- Starting out the day with 26 PSI of air in each tire, after the first of four sessions they were all ~31 PSI and only 32 PSI after the second, well within normal operating ranges. During the third session, I thought I’d picked up a puncture or that the tires had degraded past the point of no return. The grip levels were fine but I could feel and hear a distinct vibration coming from all four contact patches and through the helm into my hands. Coming off the track to assess the damage, all I found were hot, melted rubber pebbles that the sticky Bridgestones had picked up around the track. The solution ? Zigging and zagging like the pros do. No, they don’t do this to warm up their tires, they do it to scrub off the rubber pebbles covering the track, particularly anywhere off the driving line. [↩]
- What else would an architect drive ? [↩]
- To this end, he had me keep the trans in “auto” for the first two sessions so that we could focus on braking points and peripheral vision. Like golf, another largely solitary sport, there are hundreds of possible thoughts that a player/driver can have running through their heads in the heat of battle, but having more than one or two is a sure-fire way to “get in your own kitchen” and “make yourself a sandwich,” something you’d ideally have your opponents rise to achieve rather than achieving on your own. [↩]
- Though new brake pads are probably in order after this 2nd track day. I’ve my eye on some Hawk ones. [↩]