Time Attack is just three days away, and while most of the Pro and Open class teams should have their act together by now, it’s usually the owner/builder/driver enthusiasts in the Clubsprint class who need a hand getting everything in order. If you’re not 100% prepared on the day, it could cost you a whole year’s worth of anticipation, and a few pennies if something goes wrong. It might be bad luck, or bad preparation. To eliminate the latter, V-Sport’s workshop manager and race car guru Todd Gleeson has taken a moment to share his wisdom and tricks to help you get through the big day.
Todd, if you had a Clubsprint car, what should you be looking at now?
There’s a few areas you can look at. Brakes, steering and alignment, fluids and oils; getting all these together, both as performance enhancers and preventative measures will greatly improve your chances of getting the most out of the day.
Why is a wheel alignment important?
Clubsprint cars are still road registered and will likely have an alignment that is suited to street driving. Putting a specific race alignment will make the car handle better on the track. A race alignment may involve adding more camber, or toe out. Whilst this will make the car more ‘twitchy’ on the road, it will be very responsive on the track. The advantage of more camber comes as you turn a corner. More camber flattens the tyre out, so you have maximum grip. The perfect wheel alignment is about finding the medium between straight line speed and corner speed. If you add too much camber to a rear wheel drive car, only half the tyre will be in contact with the ground in a straight line, and this means you won’t get as much traction for the rear. For this reason, it’s not recommended to run a lot of camber in the rear. On the other hand, for 4wd cars, like an Evo or WRX, you can add a little more camber because the power is going to all wheels. This is where you need to find a sweet spot between traction and corner speed and this depends heavily on the type of car you have. For a ClubSprint car, depending on how far you wanted to go with it, you could have a medium-aggressive alignment which won’t put too much camber and wear out the tyres on the road. If you attend track days regularly, this is a good option.
Looking beyond the wheels, what would you recommend for brakes?
Keep in mind, Clubsprint cars will usually run for their whole session, meaning they will be hard on the brakes for longer, where as Open and Pro will aim to do one great lap and then come in. You want a set-up that will handle the entire track session and not fade, especially when you’re tipping 200km/hr on the way in to Turn 1. With an improved brake set-up, you can brake later, and increase your exit speed and come home with a better time.
There’s three important components to consider at this late stage: The type of pad you are using, the condition of your discs, and the boiling point of your brake fluid. Again, with ClubSprint cars being road registered, they may have a brake pad that is really grippy when cold, but fades off when they’re hot. For the track, it’s crucial to choose a pad with the right grip characteristics. This can vary greatly with a large range with friction materials available. Ideally, you would look to swap to a pad with a composition that can handle a higher heat capacity.
Regarding discs, upgrading to a performance disc is quite easy and there are many bolt-on options. The advantage of a performance or slotted disc over most standard discs is their ability to dissipate heat more quickly, also helping to reduce fade. This should be teamed with new pads, to ensure maximum surface area contact between the flat pad and the flat disc.
The next important factor is the quality of brake fluid you use. A road specific brake fluid will have a much lower boiling point than a race fluid. Changing to a race fluid will aid in reducing fade, just be sure to bleed your brakes thoroughly, including pushing the pistons all the way back to remove the old fluid.
Many Clubsprint cars are WRX’s and Evos. A typical package we would recommend to suit these cards, which is good for the track, and also the street would be:
Pad: Hawk DTC60
Fluid: AP RACING 600
Disc:PFC DIRECT DRIVE
What would you recommend for the engine?
It’s a good idea to check your tune on the dyno. Although your car may have been tuned before, things can still happen that will affect it’s running on the day. For instance, a fuel filter or injector basket could be partially blocked, and this will cause the car to run lean. Especially if you run E85, it’s highly recommended to check as this problem is common. Also, if you can access a diagnostics tool, make sure there are no fault codes showing up.
If you have a car tuned for 95 octane fuel, is there any advantage in running race fuel?
You are not going to make any more power by running a higher octane fuel. Yes, it may run cleaner, but you won’t get the full benefits as your tune is not optimized to take advantage of the better fuel. Higher octane fuel is more stable, and it allows the tuner to ask more of your motor by running more boost and ignition timing. Putting expensive fuel in a car that runs on standard 95 will not be useful unless you plan on tuning it to suit that fuel.
What about tyres?
Tyre pressure is important. Ideally, you want all tyres to have the same pressure. Whilst Yokohama, or any other tyre manufacturer will advise the optimal pressure for each tyre, usually it’s around 33-34psi. It’s important to note here, this temperature is to be taken when the tyre is warm. You’ll need to do some testing on the day to find the right setting, as weather and the temperature of the track will affect your tyre pressure. You may find you need a cold temperature start of 22-23 psi, which will bring it up to 33-34 on the track. Don’t forget, the main goal is to have them all at the same pressure when they come in.
What about fluids?
I would recommend precautionary things like changing and topping up your oil, oil filters and fuel filters, as well as looking at your gearbox and differential fluids. Also, check if your air filter can be cleaned. Many pod filters can, and you can buy specific cleaning kits for them, just ensure you are gentle when doing this.
What is the easiest way to pass scrutineering?
Be familiar with the regulations of your class before you go to scrutineering. Ensure your safety equipment is within date, be it your helmet or fire extinguisher. Make sure your extinguisher is the right capacity and mounted in an easy to reach place. Also, remove your spare tyre and your jack – anything that adds weight. Sometimes people forget to put their battery and tow stickers on their car as well, and you won’t pass without these. You can buy any of these items listed in our store at SMSP on the day if you get stuck. I will also mention here, being polite and patient toward the scrutineer will go a long way.
It’s also recommended to give your car a thorough visual inspection. For instance, check your bearings for play, check your bushes, and give the car a once over with a spanner to tighten everything, including your seat.
What should you take on the day?
Like any track day, take spare fluids, such as coolant and oil, as well as a jack and jack stands, rags and cable ties. Also, ensure your tyre pressure gauge is working, and if you can, take a mobile air compressor as these are great tool as well. It sounds simple, but things like a note pad and pen to write down pressures are surprisingly useful. Most important of all, good company!