Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Phillip Island Circuit Weekend

The weekend just passed (1st/2nd September 2012) was epic, it consisted of my first back to back track days. After initially only planning to attend the Sunday's sprint event at Phillip Island, I was persuaded by Ying to drive on the Saturday practice day. That decision was one of the best that I have made this year. Back to back track days afford you the opportunity to spend the time on the first day to really get to know the circuit again and experiment with what works for the best lap time, then really put it into practice on the second day.

Day 1 - Circuit familiarisation
Having not been to Phillip Island for about 9 months, it was time to attempt to put what I had learnt into practice. As there was no official timing on the Saturday, I will use the times recorded by RaceChrono.

My first session out, I managed to get a new best time of 1:57.7; I was on the right track (no pun intended). As the day went on, my best lap time progressively dropped as I kept trying to brake deeper into turn 1, maintain more speed through sweeping corners and hold the throttle as close to flat as possible through turns 8 and 12. After speaking with Adam, I also managed to hold the throttle flat through turn 3. At the end of the day, on the final lap of my final session, I clocked a new best time of 1:56.5. I had achieved the theoretical best (TB) time from the results of my previous outing to Phillip Island. However, my new TB was now 1:54.9! My new-found knowledge would have to wait until day 2 to be applied, but I was already happy with the 56.

Some happy snaps...
Ying's MX-5, my 350Z and Viv's WRX

The GorillaZ, like a pig in mud

Jim performing some checks on his Evo 9

Some seriously fast cars in my group, not including mine...

Day 2 - Phillip Island Auto Racing Club (PIARC) Sprints
After a fairly good night's sleep, it was Sunday and that meant getting down to business. With the track theory fresh in my head, I concentrated on smoothness and applying throttle as early as possible and as much as possible. Throughout the day, I was also able to brake even later into turn 1 and managed a new best VMax of 226 kph. However, what surprised me was that my lap times continued to drop in the first few sessions.

Session 1
2:19.3049 2:02.7255 1:58.7144 1:56.4295

Session 2
2:11.9757 1:57.2711 1:55.2569

Session 3
2:09.3462 1:54.5856 1:59.8484 1:58.1716

Session 4
2:09.8472 1:59.7867 1:59.8871 1:55.2578

Session 5
2:31.3992 1:57.2229 1:56.3514 1:58.4974

At the end of the day, I was very happy with my new personal best of 1:54.5, it was very unexpected. RaceChrono now says that my TB is 1:53.3, but I'll leave that analysis for another time. Now, here is a comparison of my previous PB speed graph (red) to the day 1 best (yellow) and the day 2 best (green).

The gains were made up of:
  • Later braking into turn 1.
  • Faster through pretty much every corner.
  • Holding throttle flat through turn 3 and flatter through turns 8 and 12. 

And here's a comparison of my acceleration and deceleration around the track on day 1 (left) and day 2 (right). The more green the better.

Full results:

Kam's and my 350Z, as well as Canh's and Henry's Evo 9s

An immaculate 997 GT3, good to see it being put through its paces

The Hankook Z221s wear incredibly slowly. They are hard compound and maybe I'm not getting enough heat into them. After each session they were only slightly gooey. These have now done 7 track days and they still look like this.

The Yokohama A050s have been good value. These medium compounds have now done 9 track days and are at end of life. The right has been almost worn bald due to the mostly left turns at Phillip Island. The left now has noticeably more tread than the right, but it also approaching bald.

The Dixcel DAV rotors held up very nicely over the 2 days. They must have stayed cool because there is no sign of warping. The rotor surface is also smooth to the touch with no deep score marks. The brake ducting must be working even though it's still not currently ideally set up.

I can't wait for the next Phillip Island event!