I know I know I live in Nebraska and winter is supposed to last a while, but this is getting ridiculous (Christy!). For all your non daily driver cars, this is a great time to spend on the car checking fluids or “nut and bolting” your cars’ suspension. All too often, these things are left unchecked until there is a problem to work on.
If you regularly check things and keep threads clean via specialized services such as VW Auto services, preventative maintenance and repairs down the line will be much easier. This is especially true for daily driver weekend racers. I have worked on MANY members’ cars with frozen suspension parts and know how much time and added expense can be caused by rusted rotted hardware.
With all the wet stuff on the roads and salt in some of your areas it is worth your time to jack up the car and spray a little penetrating oil on the nuts and bolts that are so exposed to the harsh elements. Does not take any real time and you can look for problems while your in there. We all take our types of racing pretty seriously even though the reward is purely excitement. Keeping your car in the best maintained state will make it last longer and your performance stay top notch!
There will be mud…
Switch supermarkets. Eat cardboard. Do whatever it takes to find a few extra quid a month. Because Prodrive has just launched this Impreza Group N rally car and for the first time ever, you can have it on a monthly lease plan. Then, after two years when you’re the new Seb Loeb, it will be yours (after one final and probably rather fat payment).
Or if you’ve got a spare £120,000, you can buy it upfront. Prodrive reckons it’s almost as quick as next year’s WRC cars (when the championship switches to less ballistic regs), while costing half as much.
The key, we’re told, is the air restrictor – its diameter has increased by, erm, a whole millimetre. With the new set of lungs, some high-flow fuel injectors and a tickled ECU, you get 20bhp more than the old car. It also gets new dampers with more travel.
And if you go for the lease-plan option, Prodrive will throw in free insurance, which is useful when you hit trees and goats and stuff.
One of the first things to realize when it comes to car control and attending your first event is that things need to be linked together. You are not shooting down a straight, going through the braking area and then turning the corner. You need to imagine the entire course as a fluid trip and find the fast way from one element to the next. It is always easier to start out slow and learn to speed up then to develop habits that you need to “unlearn” later. This is not to say the Solo racing is not aggressive because it is, and once you “get it” meaning the flow of it you will ramp up the energy to combine fury with smooth.
A common mistake for beginners is to make the car extremely stiff right off the start. This places far more pressure on you as a novice because the car will react faster than you know how to. In this situation you will always be behind the car (slower) and take much longer to get it right. The softer set up will be slower than a properly driven set up car, but a poorly driven stiff car will always be slower than a well driven soft car. The tires will not have as much time to communicate with you before loosing traction when a car is stiff, and they will take a “set” faster making the available slip angle (steering angle or sliding angle of the tire) much smaller thus the window of grip will be reduced for you to “learn”.
Check tires often so you can see how the changing temps affect the pressures. This will help you learn how to “tune” the cars handling without having to change parts right away. You will also be able to optimize overall grip of the existing suspension. Don’t mistake the markings on the sidewalls (scuff marks onto the sidewall of the tire after a run) as always the need to add air. Ask yourself if you caused it or the tire did. Over steering when you have lost grip will cause this and the hardest thing to learn is that you are are causing it and not always the car. You need to get the feel for when you have lost grip and “stop” turning the wheel, this is the way you let the grip catch up. This is one of the absolute hardest things to learn about car control and when you master it you will be amazed what can be done with a car.