MSRCresson: 2012/01/02

Yesterday was my first time in my own car on any R-compound tires (RA-1 takeoffs). It wasn’t pretty:

  • one 4-wheel off — rear end tried to come around, saved it…realized I wasn’t going to keep it on track, let it run straight into flat grassy area (outside of wagonwheel)
  • one 2-wheel off (the front two on wrong side of the apex curbing) — turned in too abruptly, broke rear end loose, slid sideways through apex CONE before car corrected back to straight (bigbend)
  • one 180 degree spin — missed heel-toe, broke rear end loose spun to outside of track. (horseshoe)
  • one flat-spot — got greedy on entry into turn 1. (rattlesnake entry)
  • I had numerous near-misses that I did manage to save.

Basically, both early morning sessions were like driving on ice, and I just didn’t respect the situation enough (or understand it well enough to know the right approach).  Here’s the video:


Track: MSR-Cresson, 1.7, CCW
Conditions: 36F first session (55 by mid-afternoon), sunny and dry all day
Tires: RA-1s with only one groove still partially visible around “most” of the circumference. Unknown age or storage conditions. I can find out, I just didn’t know to ask….or, appreciate its impact.
Driver: Its been 4 months since my last time at the track.

I HAVE driven on R888’s before..on two rental cars without any issues…just not on my own car. Both times on R888’s were in Texas SUMMER, however.

My preception (and it may only be that) is that there was no margin on the tire, one second it felt like it was there and the next NOT.  I did not fully appreciate the magnitude of impact that conditions (car, driver, tire, and weather) would have on the tire. I think I understand better how I should have handled the morning:

  1. only taking what the tire would give me, and not attempting to stretch beyond that.
  2. I need to be MUCH smoother with my hands, especially on entry.
  3. Street tires can teach bad habits because their grip margin beyond optimal slip-angles is much flatter than R-compounds.

After the spin in Horseshoe, I left the track early…to think about what was happening and how to adjust. I’d lost traction in several different circumstances…but, all in situations of combined inputs (steering, brake, and/or gearing).
I went looking for some of the Apex owners/instructors, but couldn’t find any. I knew Keith Verges was there, and would have been very keen to see what his thoughts were on how I should adjust. Alas, I was left to my own thoughts. So, I went back to simple: accelerate, brake, shift, turn. For the next session (number 3), I did zero trail braking, and zero shifting mid-turn. Things worked much better (it was also about 10 degrees warmer by this point). I took three careful progressive warm up laps.
I didn’t flat-spot the tire until the middle of following session (number 4 on the day). I think that was a simple case of getting greedy. I didn’t even know I’d locked the tire up, until I felt the vibration through the following turns.
I guess I’m looking for other lessons that I should learn from this…or, other commentary folks might have for the situation. Something like: “In that situation, I would have done X, Y, and Z.” I know some feedback may be limited until you can see the video…but, I think I understand the specific mistakes I made in each loss of control….unless I’m wrong.
I’m fine with “you are a dumbass” criticism…just tell me what I should have known…and should know now. I want to learn as many lessons as I can from this experience. I have a nice reminder on the passenger door of just what I dumbass I was: the Apex cone from Bigbend left a nice imprint—scar number 1. I don’t care about my paint, it won’t be the last. But, I don’t want to inflict on someone else’s paint because I didn’t learn something I could have.

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