The Porsche File Porsche-o-phile

PCV Club Sprint - Phillip Island

The first competition event of the year was at the magnificent Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on, strangely enough, Phillip Island, some 100 minutes south-east of Melbourne. The weather forecast was for hot and dry conditions, no surprise as the Island can be very hot or very cold. Looks like it might be a tough day for drivers and cars...

Exiting Siberia - Photo by Steve Duggan 2014

I was delighted with the car preparation by Fitzgerald Racing Services. The GT3 felt 'tight and right' driving home after the service and setup work and I knew it should be good and safe for the day, particularly with fresh Yokohama R-spec rubber on. I was less confident in my own readiness. I hadn't driven on track since October and this was my first outing after the November surgery. And I was carrying a few extra kilos...

The first session saw me caught up in a gaggle of energetic early 911s and I didn't seem to have the power down the straight and confidence into Turn 1 to overtake them. So I paddled around for a lap or two and saw a 1min 55 sec lap time come up on the dash. Mmmm. That is only 1.5 seconds outside my PB and I felt that I was being held up literally everywhere.

Back in the pits, a quick check of the hot tyre pressures saw them 2 - 3 psi too high, so I dropped those in readiness for the next session. Also some discussion in the garage led to a new braking point and approach into Turn 1 and with some confidence I ventured out for Session 2. I queued a little more forward this time and even on the warm up lap I managed to 'monster' a couple of cars that kindly waved me by and I was able to get on it reasonably quickly. While the car felt 'nice' at modest pace in Session 1, as I stepped it up it just felt even better. The more I pushed, it just pointed, stayed flat, gripped up and kept going forward at a nice pace. I have to say the car felt way better than I have ever driven it. It could not have been me as I was almost a spectator in the driver seat.

So I pressed on and with my predictive lap timer working well, I came around the last turn and saw -1 sec on the display. One second under my personal best! I was delighted. This was way more than my expectation for the day. But even in the heat, I felt OK in the car and kept going. With little or no traffic in front I tried to stay smooth, brake late, keep the car straight and accelerate as early as I dared. I cursed under my breath a couple of times as the car just pointed so quickly a couple of times I needed to release the steering and turn again to get around but the car was at least still flowing. I tried to concentrate hard into Turn 12 (the last turn before the main straight) and gassed it up under the bridge and glanced at the lap timer which said -2 sec!!! In real terms that was -2 under my last lap meaning -3 seconds under my previous event best lap. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I crossed the line but I felt that was enough, breathed out and came in. By my humble standards, that was a real thrill!

Video of the 1:50.62 lap, a personal best. - 2014

It wasn't all plain sailing however. After a break, some lunch and another tyre pressure adjustment I went out again in the heat of the afternoon looking for more speed. After a couple of laps I was a second or so adrift and pressed on. Then a bad vibration started in the rear of the car. I wasn't sure if it was marble pickup after going offline to pass another car or something worse. The vibration was getting more severe and I came in to the garage only to find that I had badly blistered and distorted the driver's side rear tyre (the 'working' side at Phillip Island) and my day was over.

That 'lump' on the top left is non-standard.... - 2014

Although I was disappointed with the tyre failure, given the heat on the day. I was probably going to park it early afternoon anyway. So with a great time (for me) in the bank I was happy just to pack up and smile!

Phillip Island 1.50.6 PB

The tyre will be replaced so roll on Sandown Raceway in late February. I am keen!