More track miles for the GT3, this time at Bedford Autodrome, plus a swift valet from Perfection Detailing.
Another month, another trackday. An evening event at Bedford Autodrome, without doubt the safest circuit in the UK, afforded the opportunity to play around with the GT3 at its limits with very little risk of doing any damage to that beautiful bodywork. Due to the short nature of these late afternoon/early evening affairs it's best to try and be as organised as possible in order to maximise your track time. That means heading down early to avoid the worst of the traffic, getting your gear together, getting the towing eye in and generally making sure you are ready to go as soon as the circuit goes live.
Knowing that I was going to be arriving early and knowing that he was also attending the event I had put in a cheeky request for Richard Tipper of Perfection Detailing to have a quick look over my new acquisition and, if he had time, to give it a bit of a scrub. I'm not really one for washing cars, preferring to either drive them or spend time with the family rather than waste it cleaning something that I know will be filthy again the moment I roll down the muddy gravel track outside my house! Given that GT03 FAB is used as a daily driver in all weathers as well as spending all its life outdoors, there was plenty of scope for Rich to improve on things. We didn't have time for the full machine polish and paint restoration work that Perfection would normally perform, but even after a quick wash and an application of wax the car was looking amazing. One day I'm going to win my battle of wills with Rich and get him to make a trip up north to sort out all the cars in Wood household. He's the only person I'd trust to carry out such work and is a thoroughly nice bloke to boot.
The rest of the evening went equally as well. Despite some parts of the country suffering unseasonably high rainfalls (we drove through what could only be described as a monsoon on the M6 Toll during the trip down) we were blessed with dry conditions, barring a little incident where a BMW shed its fluids through the quickest corner on the track. The evening went quickly and the GT3, which always feels so at home being thrown at an apex, performed flawlessly. In fairness, it wasn't one of the quickest days on track for me. During noise testing myself and another 996 GT3 mk2 registered well over the static noise limit of 101db, both of us posting readings in the 106db range! Everything was looking bleak for a moment until the friendly organisers gave us the option to take to the track and risk our luck with the drive-by meters. The circuit is littered with sound measuring equipment that reports noise levels directly to the organisers and the council. Triggering one of these sensors results in immediate expulsion from the event, so in an attempt to make sure I wasn't making a premature return trip back up north I spent the afternoon short-shifting in several sectors.
This actually helped negate some of my fears regarding the amount of material I had left on my brake pads. I'd pulled the pads out to take a look the week before Bedford and was surprised to see how little meat there was left on them. The disks were brand new having being replaced by 911 Virgin before I bought the car, but the pads had clearly seen better days with cracked faces and pad material starting to come away from the plate. I was unable to get a new set prior to this event, so I decided to proceed with caution and use the day to learn about the balance of the car in the corners rather than thrashing it to vmax on every straight and trying to hang with the last of the late brakers into the bends. It must have worked since the brakes didn't implode on the day and I've since done another 1000 miles on them and there's still enough pad left to get me by until the new set arrive from the USA! I've decided to go for Pagid RS29's on the front and RS14's on the rear which seem the default option for tracked GT3 road cars.
What I have been especially surprised with is how well the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres are holding up, considering what's been asked of them. On the road they give fantastic levels of grip in both the wet and the dry and on track they seem to fare far better on the GT3 than they ever did on my old Cayman. Whether that's because the GT3 works its tyres better or because the 911 N-rated tyres are a different construct or compound I don't know, but they definitely last longer out on circuit before "going off" and overheating. However, as soon as this set are done (they may well last me to the end of the year at this rate!) I definitely want to try a set of Michelin Cups to see what all the fuss is about. I hear they are other-worldly.