Since I have been melting my brake sensors on my car and using up my tires and brakes too much, McLaren nicely decided to send one of their coaches and a technician with me at my last Thunderhill track day. Greg, the coach, was there to try and get me to be nicer on the brakes, and Johan, the tech guy, made sure my tires were not overflated so that they would last longer (so far I have been running them in the 34-37 range, short of being told anything else when I asked, and turns out I had to run them 28-31 range instead.
Like previous time, this private track day had great cars, pictures are worth a thousand words:
Hi Attila, nice plate!
So, my coach Greg did a great job of quickly figuring out that I was overworking the brakes by just being on maximal brake pressure for too long. I know about releasing brakes and finishing with a light trail braking to reach the apex (add steering while releasing brakes), but in a straight line, for maximum braking, I was using maximum pressure for 3 seconds or more if need be.
He pointed out that I should get off maximum pressure as soon as start braking, and taper off pressure as the car slows down, even if I might still be doing over 100mph at the time.
For now, I'm slower on laptimes doing this because it's harder to keep optimal pressure and just braking a different way from the easy "full on brakes" I've been done for many years, but I believe him if he tells me that the car can stop as fast or faster, if I modulate pressure from the beginning and start easying off the brakes right away, not later just before I'm about to turn.
In the morning, we drove way below normal speed so that I could try and practise the braking, but I found it hard to odd because the speeds were not realistic and I just couldn't force myself to brake well when I was going too slowly.
He then got off the car to let me try on my own but I only got 2 laps before the track was shut down before lunch. Still, I got a 3:33:85, which was 8 seconds faster than his lap, because I kind of quickly reverted to the full force braking I've done for so long (thunderhill 5 mile track with cyclone). Sad thing is that I got that best time of the day without having a great line everywhere because I don't know the west track well (that was my 3rd time on it).
He then confirmed that I obviously had gone hard in braking and the corners, and I had lunch to try and drill in my head to try harder to apply what he had been telling me.
The next session, I slowly did better trying to apply what he was saying and trying to ease off the brakes. I was a lot slower, but that was expected.
While reviewing the video and data recording, Greg pointed a few places where I wasn't braking right, some minor line suggestions, some were definitely better, and others were maybe about the same, but worth trying.
My 2nd and last session on my own, I started with a wet track and worked my way up slowly as it dried, and got back up to a 3:35. That was with
better lines and not doing some mistakes on the west track that I did in the morning on my faster lap.
So, clearly I haven't yet matched my speed driving the aggressive (but strangely controlled, because I've been doing it for too many years) way, but hopefully I can work my way back up to it without being as hard on the car.
I'm not really disappointed there, I have 15 years of practise driving the way I do, so I didn't expect to match my times driving a new way in just 2 sessions at speed.
What this all means is that I will have do try this a few more times to see how I do, and measure resulting brake wear and see if Dan tells me "eh, I've never seen that color on metal before, and we've just ordered another set of wear sensors because the other ones were nowhere to be found" :)
I'll now have to go back to see how I do with more practise. Also, because this was the 5 mile track, I have no idea how fast 3:33:85 is, or how much faster I could have gone with more laps at full speed with maximal braking. So, I'll know more next time(s).
The flight home was somewhat interesting, rain in the surroundings, low clouds, but I was still able to sneak below the cloud lawyer and get in to Palo Alto: