Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sound and The Descent

Nirvana handled very well as I attempted to learn this new track. I limited myself to setting the tire pressure on the Toyo R888s and focused on grasping the line. Laguna Seca is an 11 turn world-class track. The elevation changes, fast sweepers, tight corners and long straights are an absolute blast.
My first session was a short one for a couple of reasons; sound check and flagman error. Laguna demands strict noise requirements (92dBs). Most of the Lotus run aftermarket exhaust that don't have a chance of complying. The additional mufflers and baffles that were added to restrict sound showed the ingenuity of the LCS
crowd. Some of them looked quite comical but were very effective. The competitors who ran stock exhausts ran in full compliance. I was running a Larini 8" exhaust which I was told has passed before. The fact that my car is also a normally aspirated car helped to keep the noise levels down - plus I am running a stock airbox
and filter. It was a good thing as the Larini 8" passed with no problems. Unfortunately a Exige 'S' with a Larini 8" did not meet the sound as it was too loud. I believe the added Supercharger whine of these FI cars really puts the cars over the limit. I had brought and extra stock muffler/diffuser just in case I failed. I did not need it so I lent it to Eddie who was able to put it to good use.

The track allows you to conduct a 3 lap sound check to determine your dBs. This gives you the chance to check without receiving the Black Flag. I ran mine successfully and went back out on track. Unfortunately one of the flag men flagged me with the ole 'Meatball' flag and I came in to the hot pit. The car of was running fine but the flag made me wonder if the car was broken. As it turns out, he was mistaken and they let me out for 1 more lap before the session ended.

I received some great coaching from Scott Bradley in my second session. I was still learning the line but his
advice really helped me pick up the
right places to brake, turn-in and accelerate. Getting instruction is one of the best ways for anyone to go quicker - especially on an unfamiliar track like Laguna was for me. My first couple of sessions landed times of 1:59ish. I managed to carve another 4 seconds off in the last session and ultimately in the race I got my time down to 1:51.

Dropping into the Corkscrew@Laguna Seca is one of the best rides I've enjoyed on track. What a rush! Once Scott pointed out the correct tree to point at, I was dropping in with confidence. A couple of times I touched some dirt on the apex @8 but soon found the right position. The entry into the Corkscrew is harder than the descent. Turn 9 is one that I am still struggling with and will work on today.
The long uphill straights after turn 5 & 6 are a challenge for Nirvana. The lack of FI power is clearly apparent as the 'S' cars pull smartly away. I need to learn how to maintain more speed - especially going into 5 as it really helps for the big uphill to 6.

One of the biggest changes apparent this year in LCS is the number of aero mods - big wings and splitters are helping guys stick with massive grip. Nirvana clearly lacks the grip that our Exige sported thanks to the aero packge we had on that car. Brent set the fastest times and won the final race with a FI car with minimal power
improvements but lots of aero and weight improvements - of course the fact that he is a fanastic driver helps!!!! Congrats to Brent for a well fought battle with Kevin!

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