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Blyton Park Track Day 19 March 2017

I did my first Javelin track day on Sunday at Blyton Park in Lincolnshire. It was an excellent event, very well run and the open pit lane format worked perfectly without causing long  queues to get out on track. In fact I did not queue up behind more than two other cars all day and was on track from 9.30 to 4.30 with breaks only to let the brakes and tyres cool down and to go and get more fuel. On the subject of fuel, on the 135 mile trip up from Kinver on mainly fast moving motorways I averaged 41 mpg. The average for the time on track was 11 mpg.

I paid for instruction from Tim, a qualified racing instructor and we concentrated on racing lines and trail braking, which I am not very good at, my normal technique being full on the throttle or full on the brakes, but I ended up considerably faster than before my lesson and I thought it was money well spent. This is all in preparation for the first round of the Toyota Sprint Series at Blyton in two weeks time.

The car lacks the power of the Elise but handles fantastically and gives me a lot of confidence. My aim this year is to improve my driving, take on the challenge of some faster circuits (as opposed to hill climbs) and to keep the costs down by using the same car for going to work, Tescos, holidays and competition. Also, in order to keep costs down even further I have entered the Standard Class in the Toyota Sprint Series which doesn’t allow any modifications at all. So, believe it or not I had to change the tyres to Michelin Primacys, which were fitted as standard when the car was new.  This is a disadvantage when entering the  Roadgoing Series Production class in MSA events, which allow List 1B tyres (like the Toyo R888s I had on my Elise last year) but the more I save on the car, the more money I have to enter events and I still plan to do local events at Loton Park and Curborough.

There were two other GT86s…

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And here’s a quick look around from my area of the paddock…

(If you can’t see the embedded video, try this link https://youtu.be/gs91CZl0OIs )

My next outing is this weekend at Loton. Saturday is Members’ practice day and on Sunday it is the first event of the year.

 

Dangling dog lead spoils my spoiler!

I tried to hang the GT86 from the garage ceiling with a dog lead this morning. Better explain… For ten years I have had a dog lead attached to the inside handle of my up-and-over garage door. Cars have gone in and out merrily, the lead simply sliding over them. Then this morning the dog lead got caught on the spoiler.  Aghh! That door, its handle and the rails that support it are a lot stronger than I had imaged!

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Saint Goueno 2017

One of the highlights of 2016 for me was competing at Saint Goueno in France.  Entries have just opened for 2017 and although I don’t think I’ll enter next year in the GT86, I haven’t ruled out a quick trip over there to watch and meet up with some of the people we met last year.

When I  got the email to say entries were open, I had a look at the website and found a couple of photos of me which I hadn’t seen before…

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Here’s a link to my blog from May this year – Saint Goueno 2016.

Here’s a link to the official website and the entry form.

I can’t recommend it enough. It was a great experience.

Tyres and Classes

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I’ve now had the GT86 for about 7 weeks so I thought it was time for an update.  My plans were to have it remapped, change the tyres, fit a new performance exhaust and a freer flowing air filter.  That, I thought, should do it for next year and I would enter the up to two litre Roadgoing Series Production class (same as the Elise).

Michelin Primacy (List 1A)

Michelin Primacy (List 1A)

Michelin Pilot Sport (List 1A)

Michelin Pilot Sport (List 1A)

Toyo R888 (List 1B)

Toyo R888 (List 1B)

However, the MSA has just announced a new sub-category of Roadgoing called “Standard Cars” for completely unmodified cars so I thought I might have one season in that class to save some money and then do the modifications in a year’s time. This also made sense because I am thinking of entering the non-MSA Toyota Sprint Series (dates not announced yet, but regs published) and they have a special GT86/BRZ category with a Standard Class.

In the Toyota Sprint Series no modifications are allowed at all (more or less like the MSA Standard class) and the car must run on standard Michelin Primacy HP tyres, as fitted to the Prius and, for a ‘fun’ driving experience, to the GT86. However, the MSA Standard category allows the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyre (and indeed any tyre from List 1A), meaning that if I fit Primacys (it hasn’t got them right now) I will be disadvantaged in the MSA Standard class events, but if I go for the better Pilots I cannot enter the Toyota series in the Standard classs. To make things more complicated, if I enter the normal Series Production 2 litre class at Loton, for example, I would be up against people with List 1B tyres like the Toyo Proxes R888s that I had on the Lotus. So to sum up on tyres:

  • Toyota Sprint Series GT86 Standard Class – Michelin Primacy
  • Toyota Sprint Series GT86 Street Class – Any tyre from List 1A
  • MSA Series Production Cars Standard Class – Any tyre from List 1A
  • MSA Series Production Cars – Any tyre from List 1B
  • HDLCC (Loton) events, Roadgoing Series Production Cars Standard Class  – probably any tyre from List 1A
  • HDLCC (Loton) events, Roadgoing Series Production Cars  (2016) – any tyre from List 1B
  • SDCC Curborough Sprint Championship – Standard Class (2016) – Any tyre from List 1A
  • SDCC Curborough Sprint Championship – Roadgoing Saloons & Sports Cars class (2016) – Any tyre from List 1A

Today I had to make the decision as the car was in for a service and needed rear tyres and I went for the Primacys and just hope they’ll be competitive in MSA Standard Class events. However,  this Standard Class concept is an unknown quantity at the moment and if it’s not well supported, I’m not sure I’ll enjoy it and may enter the normal roadgoing series production class instead. We’ll have to see. I do like the idea of keeping costs down and using this car as both my daily driver and my competition car.

That said, I’ve still found ways of throwing money at the little yellow beauty. I’ve had a new head unit fitted to give me in-dash navigation, better sound quality and bluetooth connectivity from my phone; a reversing camera which works fine but is so wide-angle that it seems to suck you into stationary objects behind the car; and a wired-in dash cam which will be great on track days but will fall foul of MSA scrutineers as it uses a suction cup to hold it (as though super glued) to the windscreen. And finally I just could not resist a new number plate.

In the Car Audio Centre having the head unit and sat nav fitted. You can just see the rear view camera above the number plate. I like the way they painted it the colour as the car.

In the Car Audio Centre having the head unit and sat nav fitted. You can just see the rear view camera above the number plate. I like the way they painted it the same colour as the car.

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So, as I said, it was serviced today and the idea is that the next time it sees the inside of a workshop is at the end of next season. I do need two more Primacys on the front and I know too that I need new brake pads on the front, but apart from that I foresee no other expenses. This is a far cry from my experience with the Lotus. It will be interesting.

Llandow Track Day 12 Nov 2016

I don’t like my new car. I love it!

GT 86 at Llandow

A grey paddock needs some yellow 🙂

I took the GT86 down to Llandow yesterday for a track day. I left home at 6.30 in the dark and the journey from Kinver down to the Vale of Glamorgan was very wet. However, by the time I arrived at about 9 am the rain had stopped and it was a damp, grey misty November morning. A wet track didn’t bother me since this was the first time on track with the Toyota and I wanted to find its limits.

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There were about 35 cars present, I think. All sorts. A few MX5s, a 5 litre Mustang, an S1 Elise, a big 6 series BMW, a few Caterhams/Westfields, a two seater open sports racer and quite a few ‘track day cars’ – stripped out and, as we used to say back in the day, ‘souped up’ saloons.

I hadn’t done a proper track day before, though I had been to an MX5 Owners Club meeting at Mallory Park years ago and did a 20 minute session out on track. The Llandow experience was very interesting.

We had a drivers’ briefing where we were told the dos and don’ts. No passing on corners, no stopping on the circuit etc etc. Then we were divided into four groups (beginners, intermediates (x2) and advanced) and we had two twenty minutes sessions in which we could come into the paddock and out again if we wished or just stay out on track. A maximum of ten cars were allowed on track at any one time.

There was no scrutineering and nobody checked clothing or helmets. In fact you didn’t have to wear racing overalls, gloves or racing boots and could wear any helmet you liked. You could also take a passenger free of charge! All so different from MSA governed hillclimbs and sprints that I am used to.

After the two 20 minute sessions we moved on to an ‘open pit lane’.  This meant that ten cars went out on track and when one came in another could go out.  There wasn’t too much queueing to get on track – less, in fact, than when lining up for a timed sprint or hill climb and nobody seemed to stay out too long. In my case 15 minutes was about the limits of my brakes which by that time were smelling hot and fading fast.  All in all I think I was out on track for about 120 minutes, which cost £90, which I thought was excellent value.

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Friendly people in non MSA clothing 🙂

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This MX5, identical to my first competition car, spun right in front of a group of four cars coming out of Glue Pot and miraculously nothing hit it. Driver and passenger got out of the car shaking!

My GT86 is absolutely showroom – standard,  including still running on Michelin Pilot Primacy tyres which are also fitted to the Prius. On a wet track, with the  reputation the car has for being tail happy I was fully expecting a few spins. However, I was delighted to discover that if you drive it smoothly it is very predictable and controllable.

On the GT86 you have various ‘driving assist systems’. These include ABS of course; ‘Brake Assist’, which increases the level of braking force in an emergency braking situation; VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), which applies brakes and cuts the throttle in an attempt to control skidding when turning fast on slippery roads; TRC (traction control); and EPS (electronic power steering).  So very different to my Elise! Before lunch I experimented with turning off each of these systems and concluded that what I prefered on track was everything off.  On the road I like them on. When you’re going down a country road and find a horse or cyclist around a blind bend, you need all the ‘driving assist systems’ you can get your hands on. However, when going around and over the curbs at the Bus Stop and Devils Elbow at Llandow, the TRC and VSC were fighting against me to control the car, braking when I didn’t want the brakes for example and I felt more in control when the car was sliding predictably than when there were inputs from a computer that I was not expecting.  So the track day was perfect for playing about with these systems and understanding what they do.

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Lunch in the circuit cafe.

Lunch in the circuit cafe.

So why do I love the GT86?  Well, it’s doing all I want my car to do and justifies selling the Elise and my trailer. It’s now my daily driver and I drove to the circuit in it, very comfortably, listening to my downloaded Spotify playlists from my phone over bluetooth to the radio head unit, with room in the boot for all my stuff, and good ventilation and demisting (unlike the Elise). And it performed fantastically.  I wasn’t the fastest out there – kept up with the Mustang though conversely MX5s kept up with me, but it was definitely fun. And most importantly I was reassured by the handling that I will be able to do hillclimbs next season in the HSA championship. I had thought I might restrict my season to sprints with big run off areas, but having driven it fast, I think I should be OK on unforgiving hillclimbs too. So all in all I am very happy with my choice.

GT86 at petrol station
On the way home after a long day.

Yellow is the new black

I went to Curborough on Saturday in the new car to watch the final round of the HSA championship and despite very dark clouds it remained dry all day. Nevertheless, there were a number of spins and I can imagine when I start competing in the GT86 next year I will be amongst them, as all the road tests I have read suggest it oversteers and has a very lively rear end. Should be fun.

Here are a few of those spins, though I missed the best one as Rhys Jones did a 360 at the Fradley Hairpin which I saw but could not snap.

Met a few old friends… Talked remapping and induction kits, sports cats and cat back pipes with Alan Goodwin who seems quite keen to get his hands on my GT86. Snapped the Mugglestones, who show quite different reactions to the camera. Triple M Motorsport obviously needs a media manager.


I had to leave before the class winners’ run off and the prizegiving but l am looking forward to reading the report on the HSA website in due course.  The HSA championship is now all done and dusted but I won’t comment on the results as they are not official until posted on the website but the season is not over until our awards lunch on November 27 at Prescott where I hope to be presenting the prizes.

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Lots more photos on the HSA Facebook Group Page.

 

The new car.

So this is the replacement for the Lotus. A 2015 Toyota GT86 Giallo, which is a special edition of just 86 cars in this outlandish yellow. There are a few other special features but that’s what hits you first. The plan is to use it as a daily driver, go to work in it, go on holiday in it and do hill climbs, sprints and track days. It’s completely standard and nowhere as quick as the Elise or Jacqui’s S2000 but should be a good all rounder, be cheap to run and provide some good entertainment in 2017.