2008-09-29

Lessons learned

I keep thinking back to the gymkhana and I feel like I learned a lot. So what exactly did I learn from participating in an event so different from what I usually do?

First, I think I had a chance to get more familiar with what the car will do when you bring it to the edge of losing grip. At lower speeds, inducing a spin or merely pushing the car to the point of severe understeer, with tires chirping and all is much less scary than merely pushing the car close to the limit of traction in an autocross, where you'd be going three to four times faster. So I got a chance to get used to the feel and the sound of the car telling me "Hey, this is about as far as I can go. Push some more, and I can't guarantee for anything!"

The other thing I learned was how shocks and tire pressures affect the handling of the car. My car is set up for autocrossing, where sliding is not going to bring you any advantage, and you are clinging to every bit of traction you can get. So as a result, it is pretty reluctant to slide. Good thing for autocross. Bad thing for a gymkhana. So I had to figure out what I can do to change that behaviour. I had most success sliding with front shocks on full hard and rears on full soft, and front tires at 36 psi with rears at 46. The car still had too much grip for what I was trying to do, but much more willing to whip around when severely provoked.

This has also given me much more confidence in how far the car can be pushed and just how damn reluctant it is to let go of pavement.

So that is all pretty cool, and also the fact that the surface was slick enough that I still have plenty of tire left to run the two remaining events of the season. After that I will probably have to scrap the Azenis, because I don't expect them to keep well over the winter.

Maybe I will keep them until the first test-and-tune event early next year and see if they are any good, so I will have enough time to get new ones in time for the first points event.

Not like I expect to win any trophies that soon...

Oh, and just because I know my loyal readership can't get enough of this crap, here is a video of yesterday's gymkhana with yours truly being the first car shown. Shame that they did not catch me when I had the sliding thing figured out a little, because here you just see me drive the course. Oh well, can't have everything.