Nearly two years exactly after her first track day, I final got a chance to take the Bummer back out and this is the first time she's been tracked since I started the upgrade program. Snetterton 300 was the destination, never been there before either so a baptism of fire all round
Nice and dry all day, temps in double figures, couldn't really ask for better conditions. The track layout is reasonably easy to learn and get to grips with, and there aren't any really odd corners that need you to take a bizarre line or anything like that. As long as you remember that every single corner here is a very late apex, you can't go wrong.
So how was the car? Both superb and useless, in equal measures
I spent the first couple of sessions with the dampers in road settings to get used to the track, however these proved to be way too soft still so I bumped them up by a further 5 clicks all round (now sitting at 5 from stiff at the front and 10 from stiff at the rear). This transformed the handling, and meant I had far more confidence to really lean on the car. At 1642kg full it's not really something you can throw in, and I had to massively adjust my driving style to suit as it simply won't pivot very quickly on the apex. It means you can't really chuck the car in as I usually do on track, and you must maintain a very smooth driving style to keep the balance and pace up. Actually very rewarding when you get it right, and start a nice flow going.
I also tried a little experiment...
To wing or not to wing, that is the question? Center Gravity suggested that where I located the wing along with the angle of it meant that it might actually be doing something useful after all, so I removed it and tried some hideously unscientific tests. On the Bentley Straight I was losing about 10mph by the braking point due to drag (not really surprising), however it was the corners that fascinated me. Low speed stuff was irrelevant, but the higher speed corners like Riches and Coram were very noticeable: With wing off, turn in was sharper however I was unable to get the power down quite so quickly without unsettling the rear. Wing back on and I got the opposite, turn in was blunted but the grip under power was improved. I mean we're talking fractions here really, and tbh either setting didn't make such a difference that I'd prefer it, so the wing stays on purely for looks.
The biggest issue I had were the brakes. I'm on OEM all round, great on the road but one hard lap and they're toast. Grumbly, fading, squealing, just not good. Coming into Brundle (fnar) I ended up lifting and doing two applications, just to get the car to slow down enough. I'm already looking at discs and pads (looks like I share a brake pad size with the E92 M3 so CL RC5+ should be available, and a disc with the E92 335i so options there too) as going for a full BBK setup is north of £3K, and tbh I don't and won't track the car that much to make it worth while.
Comparing the car to others on the, I was noticeably faster through Hamilton than pretty much everything else barring the Caterhams, and I'd not sure why. I caught a 997.2 GT3 through there and into Oggies at a rapid rate of knots every lap, but he'd then murder me under braking and bugger off. I managed to blag a few pax rides with a race-spec EP3 and a Mountune FRS mk3, and my entry speeds were almost identical to theirs so I was pleased in that respect as both drivers were seriously capable of piloting their machines. We were all on road tyres too (me on MPSS, EP3 on ContiSC5, and the FRS on Neovas) so nothing to distinguish there. This is the first time I've properly tracked the MPSS, and given they're half dead already I was cautious with my use of them as I didn't want to kill them sliding round the hairpins all day. Which, btw, is hilariously easy to do in something as big as the Bummer. No need to fear though, they were absolutely wonderful. Plenty of dry grip, nowhere near as squealing as the Contis, and they wore perfectly evenly all over which shows what a great job CG did on the alignment for me. I still want a set of semi slicks for the car, but no-one should fear tracking on MPSS at all. The Contis I wouldn't use, as the Civic owner had to stop by 3pm as they'd started to disintegrate with chunks coming off the outer shoulder...! Not good.
All in all, it was a brilliant day and in a brilliant car only hampered by typical BMW brakes. Everything else though came together perfectly, from the suspension settings to the seat being proper comfy AND supportive enough for track use, and being able to finally use the power the car has. Time to book the next one up now, methinks