The always photogenic Chris Mason (left) and the always talking Social Director Felix (right)
There was obviously some pent-up demand for an 'outing' as an extremely large group was in attendance. While the weather could have been a little kinder, there were opportunities to head outside to take a look at some of the gorgeous boats and to get a super view of the Melbourne skyline from a different perspective for us south eastern dwellers.
Yachts by night
Some fine food, and superb company made for a great few few hours. Thanks to the Social Committee for organising such an enjoyable event.
Mark Behan desperately grasping my wife, Robin, or vice versa!
My GT3 buddy Chris and I drove up Sunday afternoon, got squared away in our motel in Benalla and set about planning the day ahead over a quiet beverage. We then joined a number of the other drivers for an enjoyable dinner at 'Georginas' before retiring early.
A desirable collection of cars turned out, the majority of which were Porsches of various models & vintages, but also included a vintage LHD fastback Mustang, an XT GT Falcon, a GT-86 Toyota, a Lotus Elise, a BMW M3, a couple of FPV and HSVs, and a Turbo Astra. Interestingly no Evos, WRXs, Ferraris, Mercedes or Minis amongst the 26 attendees.
Early morning at Winton - Photo by Chris Mason 2013
Very warm conditions greeted all drivers on the day and the shade of the garage with a cold water bottle in hand was a popular pastime throughout the day. My Winton best is 1.38.1 and I thought I would be happy if could get in the 1.39s and delighted to repeat a 1.38. Little did I know how hard it was going to be... I participated in the warm up, although untimed, I felt pretty good in the car. So I confidently ignored the detailed track inspection preferring the aforementioned shade / water. Interestingly, a number of drivers complained of motion sickness, especially in the morning. with one being so bad he had to retire before lunch.
Once broken up into groups with our instructors, we were sent out to set a baseline time. Mine was 1.41.7, pretty ordinary but I claim that I only got one clear flying lap so I was sure that better times were ahead. Then my instructor Dean got in with me for a few laps, and I ploughed around doing nothing better than 1.43. Back in the pits Dean proceeded to describe the litany of things that I was doing wrong.
Time for lunch, a fine BBQ with salads was enjoyed but I didn't eat too much as immediately after lunch I was due to head out with Dean driving just to show me what should be done. And wearing a full face helmet, I didn't want things to get 'sticky'.
He did three quick laps although outright times were impacted by traffic it really showed me (again) what my car was capable of. And it is always nice to see a professional at work. So after a suitable cooling off period, I had another go. Another three flying lap stint, and I am not sure that I saw better than 1.43 again. Oh dear, getting hotter, going slower and becoming more depressed! As you do, I then stood around the garage lamenting with other drivers about the 'difficult' conditions etc when it came time for our last official instructor timed run to see if we had improved.
Well, it is now or never. With a couple of line changes and a higher gear through the sweeper planned in my head I set out with only modest hopes. Started with a 1.43, then a 1.41, a 1.40.2 and with one last gasp trying to be as smooth as possible I managed to pull out a 1.39.7 on the very last lap of the day. I was stuffed when I got out of the car.
Thanks to my instructor Dean Sammit for his professional support, bravery and guidance. I really enjoyed the camaraderie and chat with the other drivers which made the day a lot of fun. So overall, another enjoyable and safe day at the scenic Winton track.
Starting out the day with high hopes, I left with my tail slightly between my legs. Again.
Some video with more detail to come.
A fine rural setting - 2013
The event was held at their country retreat out of Gembrook and it was a most spectacular location.
Horsepower of a different kind - 2013
Doug's gorgeous black beauty - 2013
I have attended a couple of these events in the past and it was good to renew some old acquaintances and meet some new folk. A most enjoyable evening indeed.
I had some errands to run near there so I thought I would shoot Tony a text to see if he was 'at work' and maybe catch up for a coffee. Also the GT3 was filthy after Presidents Day on Sunday and some subsequent rain so I could mix a little 'work' with 'pleasure'. So much I knew….
On arrival, after chastising me about the state of my car, Tony ushered me to an empty bay and lectured me on how I was going to set about rectifying and removing the dirt. Starting with some manual work scrubbing the wheels. What??? I got through that, used the specifically dictated wash cycles and now set about the normal process of chamois drying the car. Silly me, I thought I was finished. Tony ran his eagle eye over the vehicle, sighed, disappeared and finally re-appeared with a micro-fibre cloth and a bottle of 'Oomph' (catchy name) which he said would get rid of 'all of those ugly marks' still on the car after I had carefully washed it. Sheesh.
I am not sure if I am sweating from embarrassment or exertion, but this was no walk in the park car cleaning effort.
The final result is shown below. And I still used a little Photoshop to clean it up even more!
Next time I visit Tony I am going to arrive with a REALLY clean car!
The evening kicked off with some superb home made burgers courtesy of Carol Fitzgerald with beers and 'softies' and some lively conversation.
A brief tour of the premises followed, punctuated by 'war stories' of successful / 'interesting' upgrades to various vehicles on display.
Back outside the main workshop, Peter talked through a range of modifications to a customer 996-1 GT3 to achieve maximum performance and still remain within MM1 Class rules. Inside, attention turned to 'Peter's' 997-1 GT3 Open Class winning club car. Easier to say what hasn't been changed rather than list all of the modifications. A serious weapon in great hands.
A key part of the night was for guests to ask questions specific to their individual requirements and needs. Suffice to say, the attendees took full advantage of this and gained some extremely valuable and detailed information in the process.
GT3 owners rightly love their cars and are mostly satisfied with their performance, other than perhaps a 'tune' and an exhaust upgrade. The range of the possible even within those upgrades and many more enhancements was truly eye-watering with the sky (and your wallet) the only limit.
Thanks to Peter and his family for their time, opening up their business out of hours to support the Porsche Club of Victoria and educating the PCV members on the range of the possible when 'plenty is never enough'.
The day dawned sunny, so, with high hopes, four couples / cars met at Pearcedale at 8.15AM. The first stage took us 40 minutes down the South Gippsland/Bass Highway to Grantville for a quick pit stop. Warm hospitality, good coffee and fine conversation in the bakery left us ready for a challenging drive up, down and around to our brunch destination at Loch.
Sadly the sun that was at Pearcedale gave way to intermittent showers and low cloud for the next thirty minutes once we left Grantville.
The 'Beast' brooding at Grantville - 2012
Although it was my third time along this particular route, I really enjoyed the fabulous roads that incorporated altitude changes, green pastures, sea views (slightly obscured by the clouds), straight sections and sweeping turns. All this in about 50 minutes of spirited driving kept at or below the posted limits due to the quickly changing terrain.
Brunch was at the wonderfully named 'Hard Loch Cafe' in the historic township of Loch. The owner/manager Rohan, was a fabulous host, seating us comfortably whilst explaining the vast array of fresh produce on offer.
Orders consisted of soups, salads and pies plus the compulsory bottle of local pinot noir. The din of conversation soon dulled as we tucked into some great food.
(L-R) - Margaret. Helen D, Helen B, Linley and Dymo. Images of Robin and Dennis omitted to maintain MA rating - 2012
True to the organiser's word, we wound up by midday, so the group could get home for lunch (as if) or enjoy some more of the delights that Gippsland had to offer.
Thanks to Dymo/Helen, Linley/Helen and Dennis/Margaret for joining Robin and I for a great morning's outing.
The route took us through acreage properties in Park Orchards to Warrandyte then towards Kangaroo Ground until we turned off onto the delightfully named Pigeon Bank Lane which took us towards Christmas Hills and onto Yarra Glen. Then off towards Kinglake West for our morning tea stop. Then trouble struck. One of our group copped a nail through the wall of the driver's side rear tyre. With no spare on a 997-2 GT3 (as standard) it was a call to Roadside Assist for the long haul back to town. Robin and I waited while arrangements were confirmed, kept the group informed, and left when help was assuredly on it's way. Communication of the problem left the group a bit 'flat' as well.
Linley's GT3 - Photo by Robin Humphries 2012
When I got to the Flying Tarts Bakery in Kinglake West the mood seemed to have improved significantly with everyone tucking into egg & bacon rolls, and full breakfasts of all shapes and sizes! I tried to remind people that a great lunch was only 75 minutes away but they nodded, smiled and kept on eating!
Departing Kinglake the road to Yea was clear moving through low hills, then onto Seymour the road was a little more winding before the last flat leg to Mangalore and onto Fowles Winery at Avenel. Overall the roads were relatively empty and we made comfortable progress towards lunch.
James, Tracey, Linley and Helen - 2012
Fowles Winery and Restaurant is an extremely popular venue for both it's food and wine. Booking a month in advance we were 'lucky' to get a slot. Even on arrival, it was easy to understand why. We were greeted warmly, shown to our table and promptly given water and menus and before too long we were enjoying a range of mains and the wonderfully named 'Women Who Shoot Their Lunch' red (shiraz) and white (riesling) wines. Conversation flowed, time predictably flew by and before too long it was time to start the drive back home.
Too much wine at lunch - Photo by Julie Mason 2012
A safe trip home for all concluded a great day. To be fair after I drove superbly TO the winery, Robin was duty bound to 'do the right thing' and drive home. With her cushion strategically placed in the base of the race seat (!) she did a wonderful job!
I was clearly out of touch and out of sorts in my first two session. Seriously slow. Some tweaks to the car courtesy of my guys at NinePlus (thanks Dean!), saw me at least adequate in Session Three, although four seconds off my personal best.
A better day for the Mason family however, all leaving by lunchtime with PBs! Well done to Chris, James & Brett. They were all smiling broadly.
The rain really set in at lunchtime and I decamped vowing to do better next time.
So another Ctek charger was acquired which then highlighted another issue on the 993 Turbo of a dead battery which no amount of charging would recover.
So a new battery was ordered and my friendly Porsche service folk at NinePlus mentioned would I like a Quick Release Terminal otherwise known as a battery isolation switch? This effectively kills any power leaving the battery, doesn't let it discharge and go dead. I said 'yes please' and Dean duly arrived with the new battery, switch and new earth lead and quickly fitted the lot in twenty minutes.
The switch is very simple to use, just like a BBQ gas bottle tap control. And for $45 for the switch and lead it is money very well spent.
The Turbo is now ready for the 993 Register run to Noojee in a couple of weeks. Still thinking about new tyres though….
This was the second such event I have attended and it was informal, unstructured and just plain enjoyable. A very eclectic selection of cars were in attendance, about a dozen by my count and mostly black (or darkish in colour anyway). Two 964 RS (one touring and one clubsport), a 911 Speedster, a very tricked up 987 Boxster S, a humble 993 Turbo (ahem) and an attractive 2.7 RS clone to name a few. Apologies to those I have left out.
Thanks to Kerry for organising. I had a great couple of hours and enjoyed meeting several PFA members for the first time.
President Will and Robin (left) And Peter (1st), Tim (2nd) & Greg (3rd) with Will getting his face in again - Photos C&J Mason 2011
The day dawned with slightly overcast skies and we did experience some precipitation at the meeting place in Rockbank and some dampish roads on the tour.
I think nine cars set off with maps at the ready with the first stop scheduled at the historic Red Beard Bakery in Trentham. A very cute place it was too with lots of history and home made breads and cakes which all smelt divine. After an eclair with fresh country cream and a black coffee we proceeded to our luncheon destination, Captains Creek Organic Winery at Blampied, just outside of Daylesford.
993s in front of the restaurant / tasting room - 2011
All produce for the restaurant was sourced locally and most of the wine was estate grown and bottled. The food was excellent, the whites 'interesting' and the reds 'very good' seemed to be the consensus from our table.
Thanks to Felix for organising the event. It was great to see so many 993 variants (i counted at least five different models) and a most enjoyable day was had by all.
Turbo, Carrera 4S & Carrera S on the grass - 2011
Sadly the weather was not kind to the drivers and brave passengers with lashing rain interspersed with slightly clearer skies and the odd patch of sun.
Grey skies, wet track and passengers... - 2011 Photo by Tim Stevenson
The good news is I got around safely and thanks to my passengers Andrew, Tim, Bruce, Steve, David and Darryl for trusting me in the conditions and still appearing to enjoy themselves.
Andrew smiling bravely - 2011 Photo by Tim Stevenson
A few of my guests stayed for a drink and a bite to eat just as the sun came out. Aarrghh. After a quick drink I had to make my farewells as I was dead tired from a heavy day of guest hosting and concentrating on keeping us all safe in the tricky conditions. This was the club's last track event for 2011 so a big thank you to the organisers, officials and marshals for their efforts. See you all next year!
The lonely walk of a slow race driver... - 2011 Photo by Robin Humphries
As for the Friday practice, I frankly did very well, by my modest standards improving my personal best by over a second. The video below is proof! I was lucky as the weather, track surface and lack of on-course vehicles made conditions near perfect. I was best pleased!
Sunday was however a different story, with alternating rain and sunshine making outright speed difficult if not impossible for someone of my limited talents. Accordingly I was unable to get close to my Friday time after four sessions of trying, sometimes too hard. So I parked the car in one piece mid afternoon and looked forward to getting back to the motel to catch the end of the Bathurst 1000. I enjoyed the day but had nothing to show for it. Congratulations to my GT3 buddy Chris for recording a PB in the morning. Great work!
Your humble correspondent at 'speed' - 2011 Photo by Robin Humphries
On the social side, without sounding like a promo for the area, the food, wine and hospitality was fantastic. Georginas, Raffety's and North Eastern Hotel for food, Pizzini, Redbank and Sam Miranda for italian Arneis / Pinot Gris - Grigio varietals and great scenery from Myrtleford to Bright to Harrietville were highlights.
993 GT2 v 993 Turbo @ Mt Donna Buang - 2011
I didn't make it to Healesville however as my Turbo buddy dropped a clutch on route and I saw it as my duty to stay with him and share how reliable my car is while we waited for the flat-bed truck.
Perhaps I over-estimated Tony's sense of humour a little! - 2011 (iPhone)
A pleasant drive was dampened a little by a nasty stone chip on my windscreen in the first 45 minutes. Aarrgghh.... Windscreens O'Brien called.
993 Turbo v 993 GT2 @ Mt Donna Buang - 2011
In addition to the Turbo, I took the Leica D-Lux 5 out for the day and managed to catch a couple of nice shots. For some reason, this camera / sensor combo seems to lend itself to very moody / detailed monochrome shots.
Race day dawned crisp but clear, and despite a dodgy forecast, the weather smiled on us all day. My car had a service between events, some minor maintenance and a fresh set of tyres. A quick check of tyre pressures on Sunday morning and I was good for the off!
I felt a bit 'flat' while waiting on the grid for Session 1 but I got the warmup lap out of the way and the car felt pretty good. After passing a couple of cars and seeing my times come down (courtesy of my on-board real-time data logger) I started to 'push' while also remembering to breathe! After another smooth lap, I glanced at the data as I crossed the Start / Finish line and saw 1.53.5 flash up. A personal best by nearly two seconds. OK!
Excitedly heading into Session 2, I had a real crack after my first lap was only 0.02 second slower than the PB. Like an inexperienced duffer, I then began to over drive the car, miss breaking marks, muff gear changes and generally screw up. On my return to the paddock, someone kindly suggested the track 'goes off' in the late morning and was a little slower. It didn't make me feel any better,
My car was still running a soft setup from the previous month's damp conditions and the car felt too loose on the high speed corners so the guys from NinePlus swapped it to full stiff, front & back. So out for Session Three. Those of you hoping for a happy ending will be disappointed. Although trying (probably too hard again) I just couldn't get the car around any quicker than early in the morning.
I am sorry to report a serious accident ended the day when one of our members had a big off exiting Turn One. The car looks terminal but the driver while shaken just has a fractured wrist, I believe. Best wishes to Cameron for a speedy and full recovery.
On a positive note, my GT3 buddy Chris also set a personal best in session one capping off a great day all round for the peninsula boys. For me, although disappointed after such a fantastic start, I would have taken a personal best at the start of the day. Now on to Haunted Hills.
Upon leaving home it was mild and temperate, but sadly the closer I got to the island the weather closed in. The drivers briefing, while under cover, couldn't hide the rain pouring down outside.
On the straight - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
So the first session was 'wet', and I really, really struggled. Every time I touched the steering wheel the front slid, every time I touched the accelerator the rear slid. Aarrgghh.... A check on a slight oil leak had me sit out of session two, and while the car was 'in service' we took the time to up the tyre pressures and soften off the roll bars to their softest setting.
Session three showed more improvement, which was no surprise as the track was now drying out. But by sessions four and five I started making excellent progress by my standards resulting in an 'official' personal best lap time of 1.55. I know, I know nothing special for a GT3 but don't discount the quality of the pilote...
A You Tube video of my best lap can be found below.
Also, I attached a GoPro SD video camera to the rear of the GT3 for an interesting rear-facing video of one of my out laps. Not a lot to see, but the sensation of 'speed' is cool, I reckon.
All in all, a most enjoyable (and safe) day at the Island.
In convoy with our friends, the Masons we arrived mid Thursday with Chris discovering the right rear tyre on his GT3 running at 10 psi. Yikes! . With a Test & Tune Day scheduled for Friday and no R-spec 18 inch Dunlop tyres in Benalla he was at risk of missing out. Some frantic phone calls to son James, who was planning to drive his new (for him) 997 911 up on early Friday, pleading with him to source two new tyres for Dad and pop them in the back seat for the drive up! Nice effort by James over & above the work he was doing to get his own car ready for the day.
Greg & Winton Start / Finish Line - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
Friday dawned very cold but clear and dry. After a bakery breakfast we headed to the track (via Beaurepaires in Chris's case to have his tyres fitted and balanced) to prepare for an exciting test day. Plenty of sedans on the track were making fast progress tricky. Unfortunately, worse was to come for me. After a pleasant first 20 minute session, nearing the end of my second run the throttle jammed open and I nearly rear ended a BMW M3 under braking as I was approaching the very tricky left hand Turn 9. See short video below. After being towed back to the pits, a number of Porsche boffins stared into the engine bay of my stricken GT3, comparing my throttle position to Chris's, when wife Robin piped up and said 'I can fix this!'. Mmmm. After grabbing a very large screwdriver and with a couple of 'pokes' at the throttle body it released back to it's normal position. A miracle? Saint Robin? Great work subsequently confirmed by the NinePlus techies.
In between the track events, we had a fantastic day touring the King Valley Wineries as part of their food and wine festival. The best wine of the day was the Dell Zotto Arneis, an oily complex dry white which I am sure would be even better with food than pinot grigio / gris. We all lunched at Politini Winery on a delightful selection of italian treats well supported by a guest guitarist and the winery patriarch playing piano accordion most energetically. Bellisimo!
Greg in Turn 3 - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
On the official runs on Sunday, I did not match my personal best time, being about a second and a bit slower, but I was generally happy with my pace and consistency. I didn't really get a series of clean laps when the track was at it's best so I wasn't too unhappy at the end of the weekend. After the throttle issues on Friday, the car ran perfectly all day. One interesting moment was when a fellow competitor spun in front of me and in the dust I had no idea where to go until the dust settled. See below.
On the social front, we all enjoyed Georgina's, Raffetys and the North Eastern Hotel as wonderful places to eat and relax after a hard day's racing or winery touring. The food, service, wine lists and 'country' pricing make for a most satisfactory dining experience.
Although I had not entered for the day, we had to go the DECA Driver Training Facility at Shepparton for the PCV Motor-kana event as Robin was Clerk-of-Course for the day. The format was runs on the short & long road courses in the morning, alternating with a motor-kana course around the cones on the slippery (but thankfully dry) concrete skid-pan. After an enjoyable catered BBQ lunch, it was back to the skid-pan for a head-to-head motor-kana event.
DECA Shepparton layout (Source - DECA website)
What a great event for spectators!
Robin instructing her faithful team of volunteers - 2011
I have uploaded some photos of the morning skid pan session to Flickr here. All in all, a fantastic weekend. Again.
We left Melbourne at 'O-Dark Hundred' on the Friday morning in convoy with Chris & Julie Mason, to get an extra day's sightseeing in the nation's capital before the tour kicked off. An excellent idea as we got in some interesting walks, a photographic session and a fine Italian meal at 'La Scala' .
The first official function was a guided tour and formal dinner in the Mural Hall at 'new' Parliament House. Wow, what a venue with outstanding food, wine and service. The tour was officially off to a sensational start.
Day Two was a free morning followed by lunch with members of the Porsche Club of Canberra at Lake George Winery. The weather wasn't great when we met at the Black Mountain Tower and only slowly improved as the day went on. The luncheon venue was excellent with heaps of food and very good local wines to accompany it.
The Group @ Lake George Winery - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
At some point the next day, we left for a long-ish drive to Bathurst. Apart from incessant roadworks, it was a pleasant and easy drive across the central plains of NSW. For those that arrived in time, road legal speed laps of the Mt Panorama race circuit were available and Robin took her turn at the wheel of the Boxster to enjoy the delights of Mountain Straight, the Cutting, Skyline, the Dipper, Conrod Straight and Caltex Chase. She loved it! Dinner was an enjoyable and high-spirited affair in the Chicane Restaurant of the Mirvac Hotel, on track.
An early start the next day had us on another lengthy session to Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley towards the highly acclaimed Peppers Resort.
Neither Robin nor I had been to the Hunter Valley before and apart from the reputations of the wineries, we didn't really know what to expect. Our expectations were further confused when not far from our destination we passed a military installation and a very large (and active) artillery range plus a number of coal mines and power stations. Could we have made a wrong turn somewhere? Well yes if you followed the tour guidelines & notes, but no if you listened to the dulcet tones of NavMan/Woman who guided us safely to our destination. Dinner was supposed to be a garden BBQ, but inclement weather forced us indoors for a slightly cramped BBQ / buffet.
The next day was free I think, with maybe a guided wine tour in the afternoon. We lucked into a great option with Rothvale Winery and Tamburlaine (organic) winery on our tour. Gentleman Max from Rothvale was a 'dry' treat as he lectured a pretty unruly group on how to properly hold a glass and taste wine. The organic wine story at Tamburlaine was most passionate and interesting. And the wine tasted pretty good too, so we duly ordered a dozen to be shipped home.
The Boxster in Autumn - 2011
More detail to come.
Robin at the end of Conrod Straight, Mt Panorama - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
The track goes 'across' the hill rather than 'up and down' which is where much of the camber change comes from. The surface is fabulous, billiard table smooth. A standing start was used with the finish to be within a defined cone 'garage' with a 5 second penalty for hitting any of the garage cones. More of that later...
So, fifty-ish PCV drivers turned up on a sensational March day to compete against the clock, one entrant at a time. Two slightly different layouts were used, one a little shorter in the morning, and the other longer in the afternoon. We had one untimed sighting lap at the start of the day, then three timed laps in the morning and three more after lunch.
In the first session I was feeling my way, enjoying the faster sections, but being 'timid' in the slower corners. More work to do. So in the second run, I had a 'crack' and lost control in the last two corners wlldly correcting after severe ABS-stammering and I knocked the cone at the end of the garage. Not happy Jan...
At 'speed' @ Broadford - Photo by Andrew Hutchison 2011
In the afternoon, I again started slowly (not aggressive enough) and was being indecisive. I tend to just cruise (neither on the power or on the brakes), and simply spectating almost. Aarghh... Vowing to have a 'go' in my final run, I was a couple of seconds faster than previously. Still way too slow, but happier... I need to learn circuits faster and be more aggressive sooner rather than waiting for the final run of the day to 'try'.
Did I mention the catering? Often the provisions are primitive at competition events. Not this time! Barista coffee all day, home-made cakes and scones, juice & water in the morning and a two course SIT DOWN catered lunch. How long has this sort of hospitality been going on? Congratulations to all involved in this effort. Awesome.
As always, a big thank you to the Competition Committee and the Marshalling team for their efforts in organising the day and keeping us all safe. It is a huge and often under-appreciated commitment. Great work. Thank you all!
Robin in charge - Photo by Andrew Hutchison 2011
Some video to follow soon.
First, it is worth understanding what a 'Regularity' event is. Basically, each driver nomintaes a time that they believe they can attain lap on lap thereby accruing points for being consistent. If you go slower than your nominated time, you don't get a point, if you meet your time you are allocated a point and if you go faster, you lose a point. Ouch. In the six hour event, our team 'Jive Torque' (don't ask) had four drivers therefore 90 minutes each which we decided to split over three thirty minute sessions. With me so far?
Chatting with James (l) & Team Manager Paul (r) - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
The team this year was Chris & son Brett sharing their GT3 and Dennis in his trusty 928. It was probably fair to say that we were slightly under-prepared. Chris got his car back from the repair shop a few days before the event, and it had it's final shake-down run two days before, our strategic team arrangement / planning meeting was over two glasses of Pinot Grigio at the Prince Patrick Hotel the day before! But we are professionals. Meaning, we pay!
Yep it was wet ! - Photo by Julie Mason 2011
So we turned up on Sunday raring to go. Sadly, in the rain. Remember the Regularity regulations. After practice, you get to nominate ONE time that you will target. Will it stay wet, will it be dry? Or changeable? Tough. I drew the short straw and was first out to practice and 'chosen' to be our first car in the initial session of the day. Did I mention it was wet?
The first lap through the spray and being seeded near the front with the 'fast guys' was nerve wracking. I was really grateful for the racing harness as it stopped me from leaping out of the car! Try this video...
It stayed wet, damp and overcast for the first three hours or so, then started to dry out. My last session was relatively dry and it was enjoyable to cruise around in those conditions after the pressure of the morning. Unfortunately, both Chris and Dennis had car issues late afternoon and weren't able to get their final stints done. Nothing major for Chris (split tyre valve stems in both front wheels, very strange) and Dennis had a radiator hose split. I am sure we will be good to go again next year!
The team format is very different from the normal solo driving events. With the rain we had, some of us commented that if it wasn't for the 'team', a decision may have been taken to park the cars and not participate given the weather and potential risk. At the end of the day, we all had a great time participating together, and a special thanks to our Team Manager Paul for trying to keep us all 'regular.
The event had a 'Martini' theme, both in terms of the cocktails served and to recognise the traditional Martini Porsche racing colours amply demonstrated by the Turbo on display in the room. The Cayenne Turbo-driving, famous AFL identity, Dermot Brereton, was the guest speaker. He added an earthy / blokey feel to the evening appreciated by many, not so much by some...
A large crowd was in attendance and by the width of the smiles and the quantity of the noise & chatter, a good time was had by all. I am always surprised by the standard of the food that can be prepared, cooked and delivered hot to 200+ guests. I also thought beverage service was good. A subject very close to my heart...
From my knowledge and observations, all of the class winners and club champions rightly deserved and picked up their prestigious awards. Congratulations to them.
My fellow GT3 buddy Chris and I were surprised to 'quietly' receive our first ever prizes for competition events. Only a couple of second place finishes but positive encouragement nonetheless. However, best not to think how much the piece of paper and trophy cost...
Winners are grinners! - Photo by Julie Mason 2010
Friday was a published 'Test & Tune' day (really an Open Practice session) at Winton Raceway. The format was 20 minutes for sedans, 20 minutes for open wheel cars and twenty minutes for bikes. Perfect! A solid driving session followed by a 40 minute break repeated five or six times a day for $120. Great country value IMO. So what was the outcome? In my defence there were a number of cars on the track, at varying speeds, so getting into the groove to nail a 'gun' lap escaped me, I'm afraid. My best timed lap was a 1.41.9 on Lap 6 of my third session. My exciting new Video VBOX Lite captured it all for your enjoyment on YouTube below ....
Also calculated by the VBOX, was my best 'optimal' lap of the nine laps on that session (made up of the best times from each of the six timed sectors on each lap), a 1.37.2. This 'ideal' time would make me 'mid pack' in our club events for GT3s, so now I just need to find some ability to harness those sector times into a single lap on Saturday. The data says I can do it!
Then during my last session on Friday, the clutch in the GT3 cried 'Enough'. No amount of resting between laps or sessions was going to refresh it.
So, sadly, I had to sit out the club event on Saturday, which was both a blessing and a curse given my potential speed and the wildly varying temperatures and track conditions on Sunday. The heavens really did open at one point. This weekend was Chris's first outing at Winton and he got quicker and quicker across the two days and enjoyed the track while The Baxter's finished 1st and 4th in Class B. An impressive effort!
Not wishing to make this a total boys weekend away, some effort was made on the social side. Pre-dinner drinks with cheese were had al fresco in the delightful surrounds of the carpark of the Comfort Inn each evening, dinners were arranged at various venues in Benalla (Raffertys, The North Eastern Hotel and Georginas) where the food, local wines and service were all excellent. The girls did sneak out one day for a spot of shopping and high tea in Beechworth as well.
So, apart from my mechanical failure, it was a great weekend and I look forward to our next outing.
My technical team at NinePlus in Richmond (Stuart, Mathew and Dean) gave the car a comprehensive once over.
A complete spanner / safety check, levelled the fluids, replaced the rear pads with 'gun' Project Mu pads (the same as previously fitted to the front) and the brakes bled again. I previously reported a loose / swivelling accelerator pedal which was also replaced. The cost of the pedal was more than $A420 excluding labour, GST and the tissues used to wipe the tears from my eyes! Thank you Porsche Cars Australia... The fuel and air filters were cleaned to improve flow and breathing. And the bonnet tie down catch was replaced with a more sturdy apparatus in the expectation of much higher terminal velocities!
I picked the car up with high hopes for the weekend...
A fellow GT3 friend and competitor had invested in a data logging and video system which was very impressive. This technology seemed to give him a unfair advantage over me! Therefore the next major addition to help my driving performance had to be the installation of a Video VBox Lite, Data Logger and Dual Camera system, developed by Racelogic in the UK. My local distributor, David Stannus, Director of ProTech Developments (less than 30 minutes drive from home) oversaw the custom installation of the control unit, one forward facing and one driver facing camera, two mono microphones, a CAN Micro Data Capture Module and a Predictive OLED Lap Timer.
VBOX custom integrated installation by ProTech Developments
Both cameras and the lap timer are solidly roll cage mounted, all wiring is hidden and the system is vehicle 'mains' powered with a discrete On/Off switch and the design and fitting of custom under dash cradle for the control unit is an outstanding piece of work. All backed by great technical support. Many thanks to David & the ProTech team!
Video VBOX Lite - (Image courtesy Racelogic UK)
Under darkish skies, we met in Doncaster for a route briefing (with supporting maps) and an overview of the proceedings for the day. By departure time, I was brave enough to drop the top of the Boxster and enjoy the fresh air. The look on Robin's face indicated she wasn't in total agreement... The roads were good, and the hilly terrain gave the cars a thorough workout while not needing to use excessive outright speed.
The first stop was to be in Wallan at 'Hogans', a tastefully renovated pub, where we consumed some HUGE freshly baked scones with jam and cream and good coffee before heading out again.
Lunch at Mt Macedon was at a very cosy cafe, set in a gorgeous garden with scattered cabins as the property also acts as a B&B. We partnered with a lovely couple, Martin & Denise, who like us, had lived and worked overseas so we had lots in common. And more in common when finding out that Martin is a member at The National Golf Club.
The food was good and was delivered at a relaxed pace which meant that from the 1PM start we didn't leave until after 4PM. Local wines were available and from memory I had a Macedon Ranges Reisling which was very tasty.
As always, the event was superbly organised and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Yours truly at Sandown in August (Photo by Niko 2010)
Out of Turn 12 - Photo by Julie Mason 2010
Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit Map
These days follow a standard procedure of walking / driving the track, especially the corners t determine braking points, entry cones, apexes etc. Then some slow-ish familiarisation laps on your own. Then the instructor jumps in with you, observes for a few laps then provides feedback when back in the pits. Subject to agreement, the instructor can then take you out in your car to demonstrate the feedback at a more practical level. Timing is conducted in the morning and in the afternoon to determine the students rate of improvement.
The day dawned cold (remember it is Phillip Island, once famously described as the Gateway to Hyerthermia!) but warmed up progressively and there was no rain for the day so apart from a strong wind, conditions were pretty good.
My areas for improvement on the day were deemed to be finding the correct lines through Southern Loop and Siberia, raising my vision to make the car 'flow' more around the circuit and being a bit more aggressively and hustling the car around rather than just be a passenger.
Overall, I improved about a second on the day, but there is a lot more left for me to go after if I can just get my act together.
Thanks to Dean from the John Bowe team for his invaluable advice and support on the day.
I told you it was cold!!!
Saturday evening we enjoyed a delightful meal at The North Eastern Hotel. Excellent staff, great produce cooked with great care and attention to detail. Snapper for him and chicken for her. The wine list has a good spread of local wines. We (I?) chose a Redbank ' Early Sunday Morning' Pinot Gris. Excellent.
The Porsche Club competition event at the tight and testing Winton Raceway on Sunday was a great day.
All drivers got a minimum of five sessions (one warm up lap, four timed laps and a cool down lap per session, and the smart ones got six, however I was snoozing somewhere... I was just 0.2 seconds off my Personal Best so just a bit disappointing. I was probably being a bit conservative and not enough aggression. More about that later.
A nice dinner at Georgina's in the heart of town followed the track day. This is a regular haunt for us and it lived up to it's usual standard for local produce, both food and wine. Sadly, Jade, the jovial hostess, was limping around in a moon boot after a slight accident. The injury did not affect her 'entertaining' perceptions of Benalla, tourists and the world in general. Following a decent nights sleep, we headed out for a day of King Valley wine country touring on Sunday. After some morning tea and a wine tasting in Milawa / Oxley we headed off to towards Whitfield where we enjoyed a delightful minestrone soup & Margherita pizza lunch washed down with some pleasant Redbank wines. Dinner was an OK pub meal at the Bridge Hotel. Dodgy wine list though...
A rare apex... (Photo by Robin Humphries)
I had heard that there was a Peter Fitzgerald Driver Training Day scheduled for Winton on the Tuesday and it was under-subscribed. Given my performance, and with Robin's blessing, we stayed an extra day and under clear skies again, I participated in this event. Absolutely fantastic. Only four cars, with Winton Raceway totally to ourselves. Two Porsches (mine and a 997 C2S) and two BMW M3s, who were Fitzgerald Racing Services customers. Peter was great, took an hour or so with a white board discussing racing strategy & planning, describing / studying the Winton layout where to be quick, which kerbs to avoid, lines & braking points, aiming point through the sweeper (gold!) and other details.
At the start we went out for a few slow sighting laps (no helmets) behind Peter in the 997. One of the M3s spun right in front of me on the sighting laps! Then we each did five laps and our best time identified. Mine was a 1.43. Peter then drove us around in our cars, two 'hot' laps to set a benchmark time. Not car breaking pace and very smooth, about a 1.36 in the GT3, two-up. I am not a good passenger but I actually enjoyed it. As soon as he did his laps, we were instructed to go straight back out again and try and replicate what he showed us to set another time. Then he got in the passenger seat to instruct us around the track. He is an excellent and clear communicator. Then we enjoyed a tasty BBQ lunch, more white board / Q&A stuff, more timed laps then a challenge to beat Peter's estimate of how quick he thought each driver should go. For me that target was a 1.38.5. At end of the day, my best was a 1.39.2. Peter thought I should have gone faster so I let him down. And he told me so! But I was very happy as I had improved nearly three seconds from Sunday, and over 2.5 seconds from my previous PB, and I did many laps in the 1.39s, while still making plenty of 'mistakes'.
A fantastic day indeed!
For dinner we found 'Rafferty's' a popular Benalla bistro. It was our first time to try it and we left most impressed. A very comfortable room, great open fire with an excellent menu, if slightly too 'fishy' for Robin's liking. Surprisingly, it was chicken for her and snapper for me (again). After a hard day of driving and a great meal I fell into bed quite exhausted.
After one last breakfast at the Benalla Bakery we set sail for home after a really fantastic Queen's Birthday break.
Some 29 folks met at McDonalds in Flemington at 9.30AM before a brisk run up the highway to the cafe on top of Mt Macedon. Surrounded by fog and very cold, hot coffee and home made cakes and scones were most welcome.
On the northern side of Macedon the skies cleared and we followed the superb roads that were planned for our couple of hour drive to Harcourt.
On arrival at Harcourt, Lebanese finger snacks were consumed while mingling outside in front of a glorious open fire.
Lunch was a Lebanese BBQ and salads. including a regional specialty version of 'Boerewors'. We ate inside, enjoying the estate wines (bot red and whites were popular) and the volume of conversation in the 'vat room' indicated that a great time was had by all.
Cars & Wine - Harcourt Valley Winery - 2010
We decided to take the long way home until we had to hop on the freeway to complete the return journey. Another super PCV outing!
Our first stop was at Creswick where we enjoyed a tasty morning refreshment while enjoying the architecture and history of this old gold mining town.
PCV Creswick invasion (Photo by Felix)
Enjoying fine weather, the route then took us to the winery via some pretty narrow single lane roads towards Avoca. The pace was steady and we duly arrived at the winery for some wine tasting and a BBQ lunch. Other club members enjoyed a couple of nights at a nearby B&B and in total some 120 people attended the event.
After lunch, we took the short way home back down the Western Highway.
The car and trailer were set up on Thursday morning and we were joined by another GT3 couple, Chris & Julie, for the trek to Bathurst. After checking & re-checking tie down straps, lights etc we set off towards our scheduled overnight stop in Wagga, NSW, some 500 kms north. With Chris in his Cayenne S, and Robin driving the Land Bruiser we made the trip with little or no fuss.
The final 200 km short leg to Bathurst the following day was punctuated by a visit to Cowra and the famous Japanese Garden. The day was gorgeous and the gardens were a very peaceful place to spend an afternoon. The Japanese-influenced menu in the cafe worked very well for a Good Friday luncheon. Julie, Robin and I gave the cameras a workout whilst Chris tried some meditation (looked a lot like sleeping to us). Some touristy pictures here.
Tranquility - Cowra Japanese Garden
The run into Bathurst was easy and we were excited to be at the famous 6.213 kilometre, 23 turn Mount Panorama circuit. For my 'Porsche Cars at Bathurst' photo gallery, click here.
Our hotel, the very new Mirvac Citigate, is situated right at the Caltex Chase corner overlooking the circuit in an absolutely awesome location. Our sixth floor unit gave us a superb base to watch the action from the balcony or take the short walk over the 'ArmorAll Bridge' to the paddock & pits proper.
It looks easier on Paper! - The Mount Panorama Circuit Layout
As a special treat, Porsche Cars Australia arranged for two 'Museum' cars to participate in the event, a rare road-registered RHD GT1 from the early 2000s, and a 935 Turbo in splendid Martini livery, circa 1985. Also the limited edition Boxster Spyder, the only one currently in Australia prior to it's public release later this year made an appearance. Outstanding!
The new Boxster Spyder
The format for the Porsche event was a CAMS approved 'Regularity'. With such a large number of cars participating, the timing was slightly changed to an 'average' timed lap deviation, rather than variance from a specified time. There were three cars to a team, and I again joined with Chris in his silver GT3 and Dennis in a slightly tricked out white 928S. Our team was catchily named 'Jive Torque', complete with a (supplied) Bee Gees soundtrack. We were ably supported by our pit crew of Robin, Julie and Team Manager Paul. The girls were decked out in fancy hats and seemingly had more cameras and stop watches than hands!
GT3 Pit Crew, Julie & Robin
We kicked off with a Masters Session (basically a guided tour, five cars at a time) behind a designated 'Bathurst Master' to learn the lines and get a feel for the circuit. Our next chance was an untimed session of 30 minutes to put into practice what we had learned in the Masters session, followed by three separate 30 minute timed sessions over the next two days. In total we enjoyed over two hours total track time on Australia's most famous race track. Bring it on!!!
Dennis & our intrepid Team Manager Paul
Be careful what you wish for. In my Masters Session, the 'Master' was driving a Skoda Wagon (!), with a passenger on board, and I was unable to keep up, slipping and sliding all over the place and seriously wondering what I had got myself into. I felt way out of my comfort zone. The practice session wasn't much better. I was getting passed by everybody, the car felt 'floaty' on the straights and 'taily' on the twisty bits. Joyous.... The serious Session 1 continued the trend of disappointment. So on Monday night I went to bed really upset that I couldn't even enjoy the circuit, let alone post a decent lap time. My mindset was not helped by the fact that Chris was some 12 seconds quicker than me...
Best to drive a Silver GT3 then ...
Following a decent night's rest and some soul searching, the final two sessions duly arrived on the Tuesday and I resolved to 'have a crack'. I was lucky that a guy that I had a problem passing was brought into the pits early and I had some clear track ahead. After a couple line changes, some different gear selections at a couple of corners, and a little more courage to drive through the floating on Conrod Straight I managed to improve some 13 seconds and post a time of around 2.56. Not fast but no reason to feel ashamed either. Chris still got me as he improved to a 2.50. Dennis' times improved significantly as he also got more comfortable with the track and his new tyres.
A bottle of Moet was on offer (thanks Chris!) if the 'Jive Torque' team completed the event with cars and bodies intact. We all did! So we duly celebrated the achievement over yet more wine, dinner and tall stories at 'The GT Angus Steakhouse' in old Bathurst town. A fitting end to a sensational week. Thanks team!
As we had the trailer on the LandCruiser, we thought it was about time to bite the bullet and take the GT3 and trailer for it's first loaded drive. So out with the tie down straps, tools, ramps, blocks of wood, gloves and who knows what else we had at hand. The recent ride height change now means only one extension wood block is required each side to drive the GT3 onto the trailer. And Robin has found a place to store these blocks together with the metal ramps so storage is neater and simpler.
After some experimentation and fiddling with the tie down straps & winches, the car was loaded and tied-down quite solidly. The good news is that we were able to fully utilise the in-built (& re-inforced) tie down 'eyes' / hooks on the floor of the trailer. Robin duly climbed aboard the LandCruiser and we set off for a slow lap around the block. Taking it very, very easy, we managed it no problem and the GT3 had not moved at all over the, admittedly, short journey. And Robin thought the combo towed pretty well and felt stable.
Some fine tuning work to do to trim the lines to remove some excess strapping and to maybe tie the rear down a little differently but it all seemed good to go and pretty straightforward. Some heat proof gloves will be necessary to thread the straps through and around hot wheels and brakes following a 'real' race day though.
All in all, a very positive day in the lead up towards the big Bathurst road trip in April!
In 2009, I attended a couple of driver training days (Winton and Sandown) and, not surprisingly, my confidence improved and my times dropped. An easy thing to do would be to say that I did the training and I will continue to get better. At my level, that is possible, however not probable. Fortunately, an invitation hit the 'InBox' in this week for a John Bowe Advanced Driving Course to be held at Phillip Island in late June. I am staggeringly slow at this very fast and challenging circuit, so count me in.
And today, I bought a book, 'The Complete Driver' from the US-based 'Speed Secrets' series. I look forward to a couple of gems from this plus the above driver training to help me continue on my quest towards 'Adequate'.
So PCV decided to run their own Four Hour Regularity event last weekend. Teams of four tackled Sandown Raceway trying circulate as close as possible to their pre-determined lap times. Chris in a GT3, Dennis & Adam in glorious sounding 928s and me in my GT3 made up team #18, 'Jive Torque'. Dennis was also able to recruit Paul, an experienced Team Manager and John, his capable pit lane assistant. They kept us well informed all day with relative lap performance which was indicated on a pit board. Excellent work, but trying to find 'our' board while under full power on the main straight, avoiding other competitors and keeping an eye out for the start/finish flag marshals was a bit of an added challenge!
The day dawned threatening but the 90 minute practice session was dry and the entire day was clear. With each of our target times set, we did a little bit of standing around waiting for the first group to grid up and head out. I was the lead car for us, so to the dummy grid I went, was duly waved away a little before midday to do two formation laps behind the Safety Car before the event officially kicked off at 12PM. See, I told you it was like real racing!
I can certainly see what 'red mist' means for racing drivers. The first half a dozen laps were a bit of a haze as the tyres warmed up and I was chasing down the cars in front. Except that I was not supposed to be chasing anyone, but circulating as close as possible to my target lap times. When I settled down, 'it' happened again.
Sad, very sad... (Photo by NikoFoto - 2010)
Braking for the Dandenong Road corner at the end of the back straight, I went to down change to fourth, and thought I missed the gear. So I tried it again (now running out of road) and still nothing just the gear lever feeling like it was stirring porridge, not connected to anything. And the 'kitty litter' and tyre wall were now looming large. With no drive to push me around I had to try to balance the brakes and steering to get me through the corner. Once done, I just coasted to a graceful halt. Not only disappointing for me, but the lost laps while I was being picked up and towed back killed our chances for a decent finish in the event AND while I was being picked up, the Safety Car was out spoiling the other drivers fun as well. Apologies to all.
I knew what the problem was as it happened to me late last year at Calder. Once again the gear linkage cables became disconnected from the gearbox under load / stress. It was a five minute temporary fix with cable ties to get me running again. Thanks to Dean from NinePlus Motorsports for stepping in to assist. Great job. So I was able to get out for my second session in the afternoon but I must admit to not brimming over with confidence every time I reached for the gear lever! I now have the car booked in for the fitment of a pair of GT3 Porsche CupCar gearbox linkage cables (ex Germany) which will fix this problem once and for all and also improve the feel of the gear change, which I thought was pretty good anyway. While it is 'on the hoist' a quick suspension check will also occur and adjust the settings so the car is corner weighted and balanced front to back, side to side. If it is OK now, fine, if not, it should drive better than ever after the balancing. Only wish I could drive better...
And to cap off a miserable car day, I got a decent stone chip right in my line of vision on my first lap out. Oh well...
In the final wash up, "Jive Torque' finished 18th out of 21 teams. Not a stellar result but mechanical disasters notwithstanding, we all enjoyed the day and especially the camaraderie of the our team environment. The structure and organisation of the day was superb and a real credit to all involved. Especially impressive considering this was the first time the club had run such an event. Provisional class results can be found here.
Roll on Bathurst!
The Wonders of Photoshop - Greg on Pole! (Photo by Julie Mason 2010)
I knew going into the weekend that I was many seconds off the pace for my car but hope springs eternal... Hope however doesn't beat the stopwatch. The bad news is that I am still about five seconds behind where I should / might be, but the good news is that I set a Personal Best, some two seconds better than my previous best time. And the better news is that I felt I could have gone even a second or so quicker on the day after a spirited (but un-timed) last session of the day. Also I was happy with the in-car comfort of my HANS device, and even given it's narrow range of designed movement, I would say it helped me improve my in-car stability and then, my times. An excellent investment in time and safety!
One of my GT3 buddies, Chris, improved some five seconds on the day following some tyre and brake upgrades and after encouraging words from his tuning 'guru'. Great driving mate.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention the outstanding job done my wife Robin, who was Clerk of Course for the event, and ensured that all 115 competitors ran safely and efficiently throughout the day. Great job sweetie!
Robin 'On the Job!' - (Photo by Julie Mason 2010)
Provisional results can be found here.
After some chocking & blocking of the ramps to get the approach angle correct, and a couple of gentle runs partly up the ramps to check alignment, I eventually gave it enough to get the car on. It fits! But I can't get out!! No biggie, as the trailer has easily removable mud guards and once taken off, the doors open fully and the driver can simply alight. Awesome.
The next step is to take the car and trailer to an experienced aluminium fabrication shop to get a front wheel stop bar installed and the tie down points re-jigged to suit the car and its relative position on the trailer. We bought industrial-strength tie down straps, brackets and ratchets recently from a very experienced guy at Load Restraint Systems in Dandenong. So with a following breeze we are only a week or so away from having a fully road legal, functional GT3 carrying conveyance!
Once the setup is operational, in future I would like to add an electric winch to make handling of the loading process easier and assist in loading the car, if for some reason, we couldn't do it under its own steam. Then maybe a nose cone (with wheel racks) to protect the front of the car (and possibly aid fuel economy), some lockable storage for tools and a jerry can holder or two.
But fair to say, I am now really happy. The matching silver GT3 / Featherlite aluminium trailer combo behind the Land Bruiser looks fantastic!
Where did all the previous posts go to from this blog?
They have been archived (by year) and are easily accessible via the links in the sidebar on the left hand side of this page.
Luckily Santa was listening and managed to secure me the last 2009 model 14ft Featherlite Model 3110 flat bed car trailer in Australia. It is pretty basic, all extruded aluminium sides and floor construction, with dual electric braked axles (with break-away system), LED lights, 6ft ramps and removable mud guards to aid vehicle entry / exit. To finish it to my initial requirements, it requires an electric winch and some additional tie down options but it will surely do the job in the immediate term. A front air dam / storage section can be added sometime down the track. With all of the imperial measurements, no prizes for guessing that it is an American-made trailer.
Photos courtesy of Featherlite Australia
I will post additional pictures and ownership impressions once we get the GT3 actually ON the trailer. Still a little work to do to get the ramp approach angles correct as the car is so damn low!
Grant Stephenson (a PCV competition legend), moi & the lovely Robin - PCV Annual Ball 2009 - (Photo by Felix)
My practice session on Saturday afternoon was almost incident free, with just a slight wiggle (OK then, a wild tank slapper) coming out of the last corner on the very last lap.
Back in the pits, the dozen or so competitors involved got together to exchange stories and discuss possible times for the regularity proper on Sunday.
After ten minutes I wandered back to my car only to find fluid dripping, then gushing from the rear of the car. The sniff and smear test indicated that it was coolant leaking heavily from somewhere, not obvious.
Horrid things go through your mind at moments like this. How do I get home, how much will this cost, why me principal amongst them. After a period of time I was fortunate to get a bit of advice from a Porsche mechanic in attendance (thanks to Nick from Weltmeister) who thought it was the bottom of a coolant line from the engine to the front-mounted radiators which had split. It seemed to hold together OK when under pressure so his suggestion was to re-fill with water, keep my eye seriously on the temperature gauge but the car should get the 30 minute freeway journey home.
We went back on Sunday in the Land Cruiser and watched the others go round in slightly slippery conditions but obviously enjoying themselves. I really wanted to be out there with them. Another 40 minute session at Sandown with them would have been great.
The guys from Jocaro Motors duly picked up the car from home the next week and sure enough, the line had split (from the inside?) and both In & Out lines were changed as a precaution and the system pressure re-tested OK. All at a very reasonable cost. Phew.
Let's hope I get some trouble free hot laps soon. Like at a fair dinkum practice session with a bunch of semi-pro GT Championship (Ferrari / Viper / Porsche) guys at Phillip Island on December 16!
A fellow GT3 owner and I attended an open practice session on the National Circuit at Calder Raceway today. The day dawned hot with a forecast temperature of 36 C. After a slow 90 minute drive across town in peak hour traffic in the GT3, I arrived at Calder around 8.30 to be greeted by my mate who was paid up, kitted up and raring to go.
So I found the office, paid my fees, and had my car and safety gear scrutineered. So, all good so far. The order of running on these days are alternating half hour sessions for open wheel cars followed by saloons, starting at 9AM. The safety officer duly advised us that as there were no open wheelers present, the track was ours! With only our two GT3s on the track, it was a great feeling. The surface felt a bit slippery but after about four laps my confidence was growing and then it happened. Entering Turn One, I down changed to fourth, then third, accelerated through, went for second for the tighter turns Three & Four and the gear lever felt like a spoon in a bowl of jelly. So with the car still in (and stuck in) third, I sadly made my way back to the pits.
No noises, no smells and upon inspection, no dropping of oil or fluids. My mechanical skills run to having my Porsche service folks on speed dial. I duly leveraged those skills only to be informed that most of them were at another track day at Phillip Island. A brief over-the-phone diagnosis indicated that it might be the gear selector cable coming unclipped from the gearbox. Sounded too simple. Luckily, a Porsche Melbourne mechanic was there and I asked to borrow his jack so I could check under my car (yeh right) and he offered to take a quick look. A clip which presumably was holding the cables on in the first place, was lying under the car (lucky or what) and he was able to clamp & crimp the cables back on well enough for me to make a nervous drive back to my service guys for a permanent fix. Many thanks to Porsche Centre support! Only 10 minutes of effort but 100% skill!
Regularly readers of this site will know that I have been a bit critical of Calder Raceway in the past. Sure the facilities are under going (and need) some updating but I must say all the staff I dealt with this morning, Bill on the gate, Robbie in the office and Peter, the safety officer / track time scheduler were extremely welcoming and efficient. And, for the clincher, as I had left early after my incident, I was offered a free replacement session. Great customer service!
Sadly, I let my Porsche buddy down today as we were looking forward driving the track 'together', comparing notes, lines. times, tyre pressures etc. and are now planning to go back on December 11. I am looking forward to a few more laps next time.
The battery powered sensors screw on the to the valve stem (in place of the valve cap) and transmit back to a hand held visual display unit which shows tyre pressure and / or temperature by wheel. It is configurable to alarm if either temperature or pressure move outside pre-set upper or lower limits and to define imperial or metric measurements. For in car installation for road car touring purposes, the Tyre Dog comes with a range of dash / windscreen mounts.
Detailed specifications can be found on the TyreDog website.
A fellow GT3 owner has one and used it most successfully on a recent road and track trip to South Australia. My first practical test will be Presidents Day at Sandown on Sunday. A useful tool to obtain a more consistent track performance is the objective.
Some perspective of the elevation changes - The 'Bowl' from above (Canon IXUS 850 IS) ©2009
Ya gotta love Victorian weather! We left home when it was 3.5C. At the track it was 9C, the first session or so there was no heat in the tyres. It got warm close to lunch. And after the break I smothered my face in sun screen as I was burning badly. Then the change came, the heavens opened and people got drenched and froze again only to have glaring sunshine in our eyes on the drive home. Go figure!
So what about the event?
While I improved from my time in March by over a second, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't go a little quicker. Oh well, baby steps.....
My hard working pit crew (Dad!) - (Canon IXUS 850 IS) ©2009
The normal circuit is great, but the organisers threw a curve ball this event but running a slightly different pattern in the afternoon, moving to a figure eight configuration. Another challenge and really interesting.
The track is fantastic and the local car club who manage the facility are aggressively adding a clubhouse, covered pits, and other facilities. Congratulations to them.
I am already looking forward to heading back in 2010!
Unfortunately, I gridded up on the front row of my group, got flagged away first and proceeded to head down to Turn One with some speed and enthusiasm. Sadly, my memory of the distance between Turns 1 and 2, and 2 & 3 were a bit different to reality and I have to brake and shuffle and bumble my way around. Worse was to come! No real dramas up the back straight through the kink and the start of the esses, but I got confused(!) about where the final turn was to lead back onto the main straight. There was a 'track', there was a 'road' and there was 'another road' all within thirty metres. Arghhh. When in doubt, take the middle one. And it worked. Phew!! And this is the supposed warm up lap! Lucky I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor! I am pleased to say that it got a bit better as the day went on. Another excellently organised event with at least three sessions before lunch, a couple after before the rain / cold finally set in. I did manage a Personal Best at that track, not hard given my previous trials and tribulations in a different (& slower car).
The GT3 ran superbly all day after the recent changes / upgrades, and the new Dorian timing box was really easy to fit and recorded faultlessly.
I managed to get into the 1.07s before the late afternoon drizzle arrived, which I was pleased with. As always, I felt I left a second or so out there so I look forward to coming back to Calder again soon. Who would have thought that I would ever say that!
My GT3 & Tim Stevenson's MX5 in the grunge at Calder - (Photo by Ryan Marsh)
Some friends turned up to support me on the day (thanks Tim & Ryan) and via Ryan's lens I have a fantastic selection of photos of the day. Thanks for the pictures above (Tim with your humble correspondent and our cars) and one of Ryan's very best of the GT3 and hack driver below. Many thanks Ryan, love your work!
The car has just returned from the workshop at Jocaro Motors this week. Much work was done on the gearbox, clutch, wheel bearings and front brakes and naturally this has improved the overall mechanical condition significantly. A new Dorian timing device has been fitted along with a revised secondary bonnet catch. All of these mechanical updates come after some cosmetic detailing work on the exterior a month ago. Also I now have a standard Porsche steering wheel fitted which brightens up the interior and makes the car more user-friendly on the road.
At the end of this years track day season, subject to a reasonable quote, I would like to re-spray the nose which is pretty badly chipped and marked. Also at that time the OZ Racing track wheels and tyres will come off and my standard GT3 road wheels and tyres will be used for 'summer' touring.
Finally I will add some new personalised number plates which I recently sourced. A quick sneak peak of those below.
By year end, 'Nemo' should look fantastic and be performing superbly!