May 4, 2009

Team Axis takes on Porsche Club Racing

Lime Rock Park, 2009 PCA Race

CG jumped right in at Lime Rock last week end and did quite well with his H class Cayman S. Backed by the best, Farnbacher-Loles Club Sport he managed class wins in both of the week end's races. But let's hear it from the man himself...

A lot of anticipation for my first Race Weekend, specially since I haven't driven the car yet! Car is a 2006 Stock Cayman S built for H Stock Porsche Club Racing. Basically it's a regular Cayman S, with stock engine, aftermarket exhaust (w/o catalytic converter), a full Kalani Gohara cage, safety systems, triple adjustable Motons, stiffer springs, GT3 Cup control arms and a Guard LSD. Car has to weigh 3105#s with driver. Mine weighs 3200#s.

It was just 7 weeks ago that I had no plans to start racing this year other than a probable rental deal with Stee at some point. Having the right car available at the right price with the right mechanical/team support was a big factor in jumping the gun.
Since I had no seat time in the car, I signed up for the DE day on Thursday before the race. Woke up early, packed for 3 days, plus the obvious-rookie shiny brand new racesuit (thought about greasing it a bit, but remembered that nevertheless my car will wear a big X in the rear exposing the rookie status).

continues after the jump

Practice Day

Got to LRP at 7:15am. Typical early spring day: Wet and Cold (30F). I was even worried on my way there since I just took off my winter tires from the GT2 and was driving on the Michelin Sport Cup R-Comps when it started to snow lightly about 10mi from the track!

The car looked GREAT!! Farnbacher did a great job with a quickish color change in 2 weeks and the candy red contrast of wheels, mirrors and wings looks good but still misses proper race car livery that will come soon.

It was supposed to clear out in the afternoon but it never happened. There was a dryish window of 30mins in which I went out and pussyfooted for 10 laps (with light sprinkling rain). There was no point in putting Wet weather tires for practice as it was clear that the race was going to be dry, so why risk an shunt or a mis-aligning off to the mud. I didn't even bother looking at lap times as I knew they would suck and would just destroy my confidence too early.

Spent the day making sure everything felt comfortable in the cockpit (hate the harnesses as they are a big hassle with the HANS, while change to Schroth at the first chance), making sure the electronics worked: AIM dash, Radio and camera and checking all the important little details (mirrors, plan for tire swaps, etc.)

Attended the rookie talk: Valuable common sense advice being dispensed. I must imagine some fear factor can be triggered for someone who has never than this at all before. Went for a nice dinner and wine at the Interlaken with my team mates driving the other Cayman S in H Stock. Good talk, some bench racing and not so late to bed.

Day 1 - Practice sessions, rookie school and race starts / fun race

Finally fantastic weather at LRP. First two sessions started really driving the car and got down to high 1:00.x. A second off the prior owners record, but I'm having brake bias problems after 5 hot laps, where it goes into ABS and the car brakes mostly from the rear. Need to ease off for a lap for cooling to get them back to comfort level where it doesnt feel like pulling the handbrake when I try to trailbrake! A big confidence destroyer of the entry line into Big Bend.

Changed pads for the 3rd session to see if completely different compound could work better. Wrong choice, ABS problem was a nightmare, these other pads were too grabby and triggered ABS right away screwing up every braking zone. Therefore made no progress and we put the other pads back in. I rather manage the brake temperature at some point but be able to pull hot laps at the beginning.

Now going into the practice starts and will be done for the day. Qualifying is tomorrow but I'm already comfortably in P1 in my class (7 cars) by 6/10ths. Had a good follow-on with the 2nd guy (964 US Cup Car or RSA?) where I let him go in front and put pressure for 3 laps until he spun coming out of big bend.... Good reminder that this is half skill, half mental, and not to let rearview mirror intimidation screw up my consistency.

Had a lot fun in the practice starts and Fun Races. Everything came back after so many years and the racecraft intuition is still there. I love it.

Another fine dinner at the Boathouse in Lakeville with the team mates, and great wine find at reasonable price. Earlier to bed than the night before. but spent a few hours toying with the endless data from the AIM Dash. Wished I had someone else's fast laps to compare and now where to make time. However, LRP is very simple and I know I'm leaving too much apex speed on the table on the uphill and downhill. 4-6mph faster apex speed is certainly possible as I feel that in those 2 corners my safety margin is much bigger than anywhere else (Come out too easy with no real need for all track out space). Nailing those two at the limit can certainly shave more than 1 sec.

Race Day!

Better weather than on Friday and its supposed to reach almost 90F!. In the morning practice got down to almost breaking the 1min in the morning but just couldn't get my mind to brake less on the uphill and downhill. Theoretically, I feel this car can probably take the downhill apex at 100mph at 10/10. I'm at 90mph but will settle for doing it at 95!

Qualifying was traffic mayhem and basically a mini sprint race as everyone raced from pits to T1 and it took us 3-4 laps to sort us out and have a go at decent lap times on the racing line.Unfortunately when times were dropping down I had a black flag with my # (meaning that I need to go to the pits) just after I noticed the Car is making loud noises in the corners. Apparently some fluid was leaking out of the rear and making a big white cloud when in burned.

Diagnostic was that the power steering main hydraulic hose burnt its retaining ring (plastic part) due to the fluid excessive temperature and the hose popped out! We only had 45mins before the race start, Spencer and the Farnbacher crew did a magical fix using a 32mm socket with Zip ties to hold in a 1000psi hydraulic hose line in place!!

Lined up in grid with only 1min to go! Qualified and started P8 in the race, P1 for my class, with only Cup Cars (964) and a I class 996 Carrera in front. In the first two laps put a lot of pressure on the guys in front while they were fighting for position and that hurt their ability to run fast laps. Took advantage of their own fight and sneaked in 3 wide into Big Bend, down to 2 wide in esses and No Name straight and held the inside line through the Uphill. Was running fifth on the tailights of the 996 and couldn't pass him as he had a lot more engine coming out of corners but gave me no room to sneak into the corners side by side.

By lap 7-8 my front brakes usually start to fade and I get too much rear bias which kills my consistency into Big Bend. Just couldn't hold their pace and the Cup Cars were all over me and drag raced me up the Uphill and while I lifted to let one by into West Bend the other one sneaked in train with him, and just made no sense to shut the door on the second one. I was wishing for them to cause trouble for the 996 while they worked their pass around him, but both passes on him were clear with little time lost on No-name straight, so had no chance to squeeze by behind them.

Now in P7 I ended up in a tough battle for position with a 964 RS (The class record holder in G). My lap times were up due to having to brake earlier and straight-only, but manage to hold him fairly through the end of the race.

Check the Lap Chart:

In the Enduro, for some strange reason they didn't have a grid slot for me so started dead last! (I was the slowest class of the Enduro with all The Cup Cars and 600hp+ MobyDick Porsche monsters.... 54sec cars!) however, this was a lot more fun! By the end of first 2 laps I was up to 18th (passed 5-6 cars I think).

Was able to move all the way up to 15th by passing a couple of cars more including the 996 (same one of the Sprint). Basically thanks to lapping traffic (by lap 12) was able to catch up and kept the pressure on the 996 (I ran his bumper for 5 laps) and despite him being faster, eventually he made a mistake (probably his brakes or tires went away) and I went by on the inside of the downhill. Pits were opened and then my car started slipping the clutch in 4th and 5th gear. Had to do a lap and a half crawling at 40-50mph (got passed by 4 cars). Came to the pits, used the time as my mandatory 5min stop to let the clutch cool down.

It worked, but every 5-6 hotlaps it started slipping again, so I either had to baby it using 3rd gear only or with HUGE pauses in between gears with no throttle. Finally made it home 13th with no more battles for the remainder of the race (other than checking mirrors for the crazy fast cars). Spencer thinks it was the steering fluid from the failure we had in qualifying that might have glazed the surface of the clutch (??!).

Definitively a great weekend, full of everything including mechanical incidents that are part of the whole experience. Can't wait for the next one!


  1. Great read! So is the interior stripped other than the dash? Certainly an interesting debut with the "mechanicals" and learning to cope with them.

    I see what colour scheme you're going for from your helmet. So the car will be a shiny metallic take on the Martini livery?



  2. You have to leave everything in the interior in, including carpet!, and can only remove what interferes with the roll cage.
    In my car, the only parts fully stripped are the door panels as my cage has the "feel good" double protruding bars on each side.

  3. What about the passenger seat? I tried looking but couldn't see. Sounds like an absolute blast!

  4. It does have a passenger seat (race shell with 6pt harness)

  5. good stuff. glad to see you out there. is that the blind apex lap timer that follows the amb transponder for lap times and splits?


  6. Yes, that's the Laptimer that reads the official AMB timer.
    The prior owner used it. I havent configured my AMB # into it. I was fine using my AIM dashboard laptimer.

    Not sure if it does splits. I guess as with the AIM you need beacons or other pick-up points around the track LRP being so small everyone only uses the Start/Finish. Then with the analysis software you can go crazy and split as much as you can.

  7. CG, how many cars were in your class?

  8. There 5 cars in my class, and 35 in the Sprint run group.
    In the Sprint you race everyone, as you don't want to be beaten by a car in a "lesser" class, and the faster classes have to earn it if they are behind you (either you qualified faster or passed them too). My class (H) was the 4th (theoretically) faster/slower among the 7 classes in my run group. Qualifying times for class leaders was within 2.5secs of each other.

    In the Enduro, it might be a different story as the field is larger (Only 2 run groups instead of 3-4 for the Sprints) and class disparity can be huge and there's no point in trying to hold up a 997 Cup Car behind.. (Qualifying times within 7 seconds, which is a lot for LRP)


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