Automotive Motorsports

Track day tips and preparation

A total of 10 Satria R3s will be joining 20 Lotus cars for a special track day at Sepang International Circuit tomorrow morning. For most of us, except car no.6, who popped the cherry last weekend with the K-cars at the Japan K4 Grand Prix, this would be THE inaugural track day. And for the hardcore few like me, I am pissing my pants in excitement. Tengku Djan, successful racecar driver and Head of Race Rally Research (R3) will be there to give us tips and tutorials on proper control of the SR3 as well as track familiarisation. Djan, evidently, was trained by Lotus, and he personally tuned the suspension of the ‘one of the best handling hot hatches in the market’ (as quoted by Autocar – Feb 05 issue).

Here are some track day tips and tricks to ensure safety, vehicle preservation and maximum fun (credit to Luke, owner of SR3 #13).

Track Day Tips

If you ever take you road car on the track, remember these golden rules: Enjoy yourself and drive your car home afterwards!!!

Pre-Event checks

  1. Make sure the car is in a well maintained condition
  2. Check ALL fluid levels
  3. Replace the brake fluid if not changed at service specified interval
  4. Check the condition/pressure of all your tyres, Make a note of the pressures
  5. Check your brake pads for condition/thickness, preferably put new fast road/comp pads such as Pagid Blue pads in, front and rear*
  6. Remove any accessory’s not securely fitted
  7. Check the speed rating of your tyres, Make a note of this and never exceed it on track
  8. Remove any floor mats from the drivers footwell
  9. Remove the spare tyre if you have secure storage
  10. Take some basic tools with you, enough to change brake pads at least
  11. Take at least one axle stand for when you change the pads
  12. Take some rags/swarfega for cleaning your hands etc
  13. Fill up with SUL(super unleaded) even on standard spec engine, you wont get more performance, just gives the engine more protection from destination. If you run on SUL normally put 1% octane booster in for safety.
  14. Take a can of Red Bull, it gives you wings you know!

Spares etc to take

  1. One set of brake pads at least, front and rear
  2. One 5 litre can of oil
  3. Some tape to cover your light lenses
  4. A helmet
  5. Some thin soled sports shoe’s, aids with brake feel

Pre-track checks

  1. Recheck your tyre pressures, if one is down you may have a slow puncture which could blow when at high speed
  2. Increase the tyre pressures by 4-6PSI higher than you run on the road**
  3. Tape up your headlights
  4. Ensure you understood the driver briefing, if you are not sure about any aspect, ask for clarification. Ensure you understood the passing rules in particular!
  5. Drink your can of Red Bull and put on your helmet

First lap on every run

  1. Never thrash the car on the first lap, speed up gradually bringing the oil/water temperatures to normal working parameters
  2. Gently bring the brake temperatures up to temperature
  3. Use this lap to get familiar with your new, rather alien surroundings
  4. Try and give yourself space front and rear, don’t be tempted to follow the car in front too closely as you will be concentrating on him/her and not learning the track
  5. Get used to checking your mirror before and after each corner, you will be amazed how quickly some cars will catch you if you are a track novice.

Rest of laps

  • Bring up the speed gradually if you are a novice, you will learn more
  • Give it Death, remember your there for fun
  • If you experience brake fade/boiling don’t think it will go away before the next corner, slow down, it is very likely to be worse the next time
  • If you feel a power loss coming out of a tight bend back off, don’t keep it planted, you are probably getting the first sign’s of fuel surge, if you keep it planted you are risking detonation due to a weak mixture. return to the pits and refuel. This can happen with half a tank of fuel on board, don’t get fooled into thinking it can’t be happening already, it can.

Last lap in

  1. Do a slow last lap in
  2. Try to avoid using the brakes at all to give the disks/pads some chance to cool down
  3. Don’t stop looking in your mirror, there might be some idiot still on max attack

Entry to pits/stopping

  1. Enter the pits slowly, look out for kids/spectators, it is easy to not hear you coming
  3. Allow the engine to idle for at least 2 minutes
  5. The above is to stop the pads from being destroyed by the heat sink effect from your red hot brake disks, stop on a level surface or arrange for someone to chock your wheel.
  6. Let everything cool before you check the following

Post run checks

  1. Check the brake pads for wear, you will be amazed how quickly they are used up
  2. Check ALL fluid levels, You may never use oil on the road, you are almost guaranteed to do so on a track day run
  3. Check your tyre pressures, if one has dropped you may be on the way to a blow out
  4. Check the tyres for wear/cuts
  5. Check you are still not wearing a silly cheesy grin

*The stock R3 Mintex M1144 racing pads are one of the best pads in the business! Change not needed!
**The R3 recommended tire pressure is 2.1bar and 1.9bar respectively, for both road and track use.

Header image: Proton Motorsports

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By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.

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