2014 NASA NW Time Trial Round 2 – Ridge Motorsports Park

Back to the Ridge.  This is a really fun track in a beautiful location.  This is my third time at the Ridge and my first two visits were both cut short due to mechanical issues so I still have a lot to learn about going fast at this track.

First a few preparation details.  At Portland, I was battling oversteer that was preventing me from getting a good drive off the slow corners.  I attributed this to the stiffer rear springs installed over the winter to dial out some mid corner understeer.  To combat this, I replaced my stock front anti-roll bar with an Eibach unit and set it to the stiffest of two settings.  I also installed fresh front rotors and Cobalt XR-2 front pads.

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I also installed some new vinyl graphics that Battle Ground Printing printed and cut out for me.  I think it turned out really nice and these were the easiest decals I’ve ever tried to apply.  They used a wrap material that has some type of micro perforation so it goes on dry and no air bubbles get trapped.  I was really impressed with the decal quality and price.

Find BGP here: http://bgprinting.net/

 

No more hand cut magnetic numbers that fly off at high speeds.

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Cars looking good.  Time for some racing.  First session went well with a 1:49.470.  I was pretty happy with this considering it was a new personal best by about 0.5 seconds, however, the #46 M3 laid down the law with a 1:48.528.  The S2000 was running well but was understeering pretty bad at corner exit.  Also, I had updated the firmware on my lap timer and the display wasn’t showing times so I was driving blind with respect to lap times.
Didn’t have time to make any major adjustments before the second session so I changed some damper settings.  The car felt a little better and I assumed faster but after looking at the results, the best lap was a 1:50.5.  Meanwhile, #46 ran a 1:48.049.
Softened the front bar for the third session and again it felt a little better and faster but fast lap was a 1:51.3.  This is not going well.
Made some more damper changes for the fourth session but got even slower with a 1:51.7.
Fifth and final session of the day, may as well throw on the newer set of Hoosiers to see if it’s tire related or if I need to make drastic set-up changes for Sunday.  Went out and ran pretty hard but was tentative on corner exit due to the previous understeer.  Car turned in much quicker.  So much quicker, that I drove over the top of a few apex curbs not expecting the lightning fast response.  Car felt much better but I only got two hot laps before running into traffic.  Still didn’t have lap timing working in the car so I had to wait for the published results.  Out of the two clear timed laps, I ran a 1:47.845 and a 1:47.859 which was good enough for first place, fastest time of the day, and a TT2 Track Record.  I was super excited after a frustrating day of getting progressively slower every session.  The #46 M3 was consistently tearing up the track with a great driver and amazing car – as usual.  This was a very gratifying and surprising win.
Saturday night, I reviewed my datalogs which indicated a 1:46.9 theoretical best lap.  I found three locations where I could make up some time.  I also looked closely at the old tires and found that the fronts were showing signs of cording on the outside edges.  Was this a result of the understeer or the cause of it?  In retrospect, it seems obvious that 2 of the 4 tires were dying.  These were mounted on the rear at Portland and causing the oversteer and were mounted on the front at the Ridge and causing massive understeer (with the help of a newly installed stiffer front bar).  Lesson learned… again.
For Sunday, I decided to put in a flying lap in the first session with the newer tires and then depending on the competition’s lap times, run the old tires just for fun and save the newer tires for the next event or run the newer tires and try to improve my times.  I ran a 1:48.279 in the first session which put me well ahead of 2nd place (#46 wasn’t racing on Sunday) so I swapped to the older tires (dying set on rear… I’ll take oversteer any day over understeer).  Ran a few sessions for fun and to get my lap timer working.  My times were about 10 seconds slower as the car was very unstable – although really fun through the corkscrew “Ridge Complex”.  I ended up packing it in mid-day after inspecting the tires and finding steel cords exposed on the inside edges of the rears.  The 1:48 was still good enough for another win.
Big thanks to my wife and kids that came to the track with me and my Mom who came out to watch and my Dad who drove his red S2000 in HPDE3 and helped me in the pits.  Always fun running on the track with family.
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Fast Laps from Saturday.  I think the third lap could have been a real flyer but hit traffic at the end.

Final Results:

Saturday: 1st Place TT2, 1:47.845, Track Record – TT2

Sunday: 1st Place TT2, 1:48.279

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