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Old 07-22-2002, 06:33 PM   #1
johnfelstead
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Have a Nice Day? a july weekend at the nurburgring

I made my second visit to the ring in 2002 and first time in my new STi5 TypeRA over the weekend. I decided to leave Manchester at 1pm Friday, so expected to get to Nurburg around midnight, how wrong was I!!! Manchester to Dover is almost exactly 300 miles, it took me 7 hours to get there, absolute nightmare journey, I lost count of the number of crashes or roadworkís, I hit the M25 London ring road bang on 5pm so had to endure that rush hour mess too. I eventually arrived at Dover at 8pm, just in time for the 8:30pm ferryÖ..wrong, they had filled that so I had to wait for the 9:15 one instead, which arrived late so we finally left at 9:30Ö so far so bad!

The ferry was full to the brim with school kids going on school break holidays, so no chance of a quiet snooze there then! Talk about loud! I grabbed a bite to eat and had a quick read of autosport then stocked up on Red Bull ready for the next phase of the journey, at least in Europe you have a fighting chance of making decent progress.
The ferry docked at 11:15pm UK time (it was delayed docking) so adding the hour for Euro time it was now gone midnight and I had 300 miles to go!

The journey through France, Belgium and Germany was the way it always is, very fast, absolutely no idiots sitting in the way in the outside lane in a coma (very unlike the UK!) and no roadworks or crashes. I just stuck the car in 5th and blasted up to the ring stopping once for fuel, so glad my STi has the higher 5th gear and not the TypeRA standard 5th. I arrived in Nurburg at 3:45am; it took me exactly half the time it did to do the same distance in the UK! And that includes 50 miles on single carriageway cross country roads driving very sensibly and not rushed. The UK is a mess compared to mainland Europe when it comes to the transport infrastructure; itís not getting any better either!

I wake Jon up to get me into my room, sorry mate. and am just about getting to sleep when the car alarm of mikes Scooby decides to wake me back up, nice one Mike! I doubt I got more than 4 hours sleep.

I managed to crawl out of bed about 10am, had a quick blast under the shower then was just heading out to the track when I got a call from Jon. He was out on the track and with a UK biker that had just crashed heavily at Eis Kurve and needed me to find some people quickly for him as the rider had been killed by the impact. Jon didnít know the biker or the group that he had come with, but he stayed with that guy whilst the medical team tried to help him and then made sure that those that needed to know about this were found and informed. Jon was obviously quite affected by what he was witnessing, but was very professional in how he dealt with that and the people who had taken this rider across to the circuit. I wonít say anymore on the circumstances of the crash as I wasnít there, but it seemed a very strange one where the rider had no chance of making the corner based on his line taken.

The track was closed whilst all this was being dealt with so after I had helped Jon I set about swapping my wheels to the track set and put some new DS2500 pads in the fronts. The track eventually reopened about 1pm I think. It was quite strange to think that someone had just been killed there and yet it was back to normal as if nothing had happened, I think a lot of people were completely oblivious to it, it was just another closure. I set off for a run out in the country to bed my pads in then it was time to do a lap in the STi for the first time. I took Neik and Rainey with me and we followed Jon who was instructing a chap new to the ring in his Elise. I must admit that was the most frustrating lap of the ring I have ever done, I donít like driving to other peoples pace, especially when they are quite slow as its much harder work and I feel the danger is higher of being hit from the rear, I donít think Iíll follow in that way again as itís not fun. I stuck to it though as I agreed to film the guy, that will be useful for him and his learning process at the track. We immediately did another lap, this time with Jon driving the Elise and me following dutifully behind. This was much more fun but I found the Elise very slow compared to my new scoob, its rear end looked horrible on some of the more bumpy sections, very under damped and it had tones of rear bump steer. It was quite funny taking the piss out of Jon trying to drive this thing at a decent pace, I need to show him that lap on tape because he was doing some bizarre stuff when it came to braking points, Niek and Rainey were laughing along to my comments about how pants Jon looked, although we were still going at a fair pace I suppose, enough to make Rainey regret having a big pasta lunch anyway! LOL

So far so good on the new scoob, but I wasnít anywhere near close to its limits yet. I then gave it a while to cool down, topped up the Intercooler spray bottle (which didnít even last one lap at full chat!!), checked the brakes, tyre pressures and wear, oil levels etc. Everything was looking great, no real wear, no oil used; the tyres looked fine so far. I then took the car for another run, this time not following anyone and started to push it a bit more. I was hitting 140MPH at the fastest points, carrying speed in this car is quite easy, much less work than the Westfield, but itís no where near as rewarding and it does feel heavy, I miss the agility of that car. I was struggling in the 5th to 4th down changes just on the entry into a few quite high speed corners, as my 4th gear syncro is shot, I eventually settled for using 5th rather than try a fast down change into a baulky 4th, it was safer to do that but a little frustrating as I didnít have as much throttle control as I would have liked. From the Karousel onwards though the handling started to deteriorate, the tyres were certainly overheating, but this wasnít tyre degradation, this was damper failure coming into play. By Pfatzgarten 2 the rear pretty much had a mind of its own; the damping was just non existent. I was still able to take the jumps at a good pace, but I was fighting the car much more than I should and was having to use opposite lock on landing, which isnít ideal there! Basically the oil in the dampers was boiling and as the lap progressed they just stopped working like dampers. The setup I have is standard STI5 TypeRA springs and shocks, they are fantastic on the road, but taken on a very demanding circuit like the ring, which is far from smooth, they just couldnít cope. As much as I hate to say it, it looks like its upgrade time! The question is, what is there that can cope with the demands of the ring; I need to do some research.

The rest of the day was spent giving passenger laps interspersed by track closures for accidents. I lost count of the number of times the track was closed but there seemed to be a lot of multi vehicle crashes, some cars and bikes, some cars only, some bikes only. We had the sight of a Porsche lunching its engine and dumping oil on the circuit that 5 bikers went down on also. That spillage was so bad that it closed the track for good for the day so it was time to head back to the guest house, get changed and then head to the lindenhoff for a beer and a bite to eat. I met up with Clare and Dave and then later met up with Ralf before meeting Jon and Rainey; we ended the night in the pistenclaus eating ice cream and strawberries whilst drinking Bitburger at 2am! LOL Neik then staggered in so that killed my idea of going to bed for another hour or so and more Bitburger was consumed. We eventually made our way up the hill from hell to the hotel and crashed out, a normal night in Nurburg then!

I managed to drag myself out of bed at 9:30am, pretty damn good for me, but I had a short day at the circuit ahead of me as I had to be leaving at 1pm. I topped up with fuel, grabbed some power aid drinks, had a bite to eat and then headed for the track again. Just as I pulled up to the barrier the red lights go on and its yet another closure, this time 4 cars and a bike I believe (but who knows with the rumor mills running at max rpm) so that was another hour gone before the track finally opened.

I decided to film a lap with the camera pointing backwards, just a bit of fun as I have no footage done like that. I think I chose the wrong lap though because the footage I would have had of how not to ride the ring as a biker would have been classic. I caught a woman biker near miss hit miss and sat behind her until she indicated to let me pass on the exit of ex muhle. She did this but then as I was starting to make an overtake move heading for barbeque corner she changed her mind and gunned it so I thought, OK, thatís a bit odd, but Iíll wait a bit longer. It ended up with me being stuck behind this idiot for half a lap, where the bike had the acceleration she left me, but anything remotely containing a corner she was getting in the way and baulking me badly, in the big picture she was bloody slow and very annoying to follow. She is damn lucky it was me that was following her, I can see quite a few of the car drivers would have tried passing mid corner and could have put her at risk. She knew I was there, she knew I was faster yet she wouldnít give me a chance to pass her safely. In my book thatís one stupid biker who is going to meet someone who doesnít care as much as me about safety, then no doubt the blame will be on the car driver when she gets knocked off.

I had the same with a car driver too. I caught this guy out of the Karousel and he indicated for me to pass, so I started to pass yet he kept full throttle on so we ended up taking hohe acht side by side, nutter! I never really had this problem before in the westie, as it was so much faster on acceleration so could pretty much pass anything within a couple of seconds, now I have a relatively normal power/weight I am seeing how many idiots there are out there that donít understand how to be passed safely, they donít seem to understand the concept of blending out of the throttle a split second to make the maneuver safer, why is beyond me?

Apart from the odd frustration I had a good couple of days on track, I filmed most laps with the camera on the screen or rear window and I think I got some good footage at times, passing plenty of quick cars and bikes, and being passed on occasion by some quick cars and bikes too. I really enjoyed one lap where I followed a Porsche 944 turbo, was passed by a 911, passed the 944 then managed to stay with the 911 the rest of the lap, that was a lot of fun. I need to sort my suspension now though, itís not appalling to the point of being dangerous, but itís far from good once itís done some time on track and started to heat up, I canít live with it, thatís for sure!

I finally left Nurburg after swapping my wheels back at 2:45pm, just an hour and half later than I promised myself. I then had the usual blast through Germany, Belgium and France and made the ferry at 6:15pm, a very clear run as usual. It was fun checking into the ferry terminal; the woman doing my ticket booking was hanging out of her booth having a long look at the car, funny how Subaru sounds so different in French. She was a big fan, she still charged me for getting an earlier ferry though. LOL I then got the 3rd degree from a few people in the queue waiting to board, it does get noticed, which is fun really.

The ferry set sail at 7:15pm and arrived in the UK at 8pm UK time, so I was just hoping that the roads would be clear and I may get home at a sensible hour. Fortunately there was just one hold up so I made it home just after midnight, just in time to watch the French GP highlights. Shuey overtakes under yellow and then wins the world championship, F1 isnít fixed is it! LOL

So thatís my first trip to the ring in the new car, overall it performed very well, once I sort the suspension out and get the box rebuilt it should be a great ring tool, very much looking forward to the September trip now.



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Old 07-22-2002, 06:34 PM   #2
johnfelstead
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Old 07-22-2002, 08:40 PM   #3
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Some day, I'm gonna go there and drive that track...And not just via Grand Prix Legends!
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Old 07-22-2002, 09:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnfelstead

As much as I hate to say it, it looks like its upgrade time! The question is, what is there that can cope with the demands of the ring; I need to do some research.
Great review, Jon.

Answer to the above question: DMS-50s.

- Steve
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Old 07-23-2002, 12:00 AM   #5
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good stuff JF...
sounds like one of our typical adventures eh?

hell of a weeekend! get that car sorted...
then maybe we should do da rin again this year...
hehehe this time i drive the RA, not a UK sport!
ahahahahaaaaa *evil Subie Gal Laff*
erm.. you laughing JF??? huh? are ya?

thanks for the report....
must have taken some time to write...
i know how you type! heh!
hilarious and intriguing as always!!
sounds like a fantastic, frustrating and wonderful trip all in one!

cheers!
jamie
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Old 07-23-2002, 09:17 AM   #6
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Smile

Yep, there is always something happening on these trips, sometimes you get to see the crappy sides to the sport/hobbies we do. As you know my friend Jorund was killed there just 2 weeks ago, so getting a call like that first thing, before I even got to the circuit sure makes you aware of how cruel the ring can be, especially for the bikers!

Laughing? errrm.....
I donít have any worries about you driving the RA there J, because you use your head and listen, which is important when you donít know the track well. I think last time the main comment you had was how lots of the corners tighten late, if your not being shown this, it's very easy to crash, even if your talented.

There was a newbie at the ring this weekend, who is just a little talented, he is the Isle of Mann TT lap record holder! Even he sat with Jon for a lap before attempting to ride the track. Funny how the truly great riders and drivers arenít scared of being shown whatís required before venturing out, yet Mr. Joe public think they donít need that.

I should have the suspension sussed out fairly soon, it's fine as is on the road, but it just cant hack the ring! It's definitely the ultimate tarmac test for a car anywhere in the world. There were quite a few test cars there this weekend from manufacturers, the ring is still heavily used to road test new designs and find their weaknesses, the WRX did its apprentiship there before being launched to the public.

So you fancy the ring again? I suppose we can squeeze that in if we have to!
I'll try not to set fire to everything this time!
Hopefully we get lucky with the weather again as it can be snowed/iced over that time of year, but if so, I guess the Lindenhof/Pistenclaus and Karting will have to do.
All being well we will get to have an evening at Sabineís bar/restaurant so you get chance to have a chat with her about her racing too.

Took me five minutes to write that report J, honest.
Glad you enjoyed the write up.
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Old 07-23-2002, 10:20 AM   #7
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Great trip report. Enjoyed it a lot.

Now, so I guess the moral of the story is that a July weekend isn't the best time to run the 'Ring?

-Ray
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Old 07-23-2002, 11:13 AM   #8
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great report! loved the detailed commentary.

any chance of putting a couple laps of video up on the web for download?

Evan
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Old 07-23-2002, 11:15 AM   #9
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john, great writeup!
I never got the chance to thank you for the directions to the Ring; when I was there in June I had a blast! Made London to the train in about 90 minutes; then to Nurburg in about 6 hours or so. I wished I'd had someone take me on a 'touring lap' prior to my first of 12 laps, but even without I managed not to go off. I Was amazed at the closures though; we had 3 (2 for bikes and one for a wrecked 996 GT3) and I had no idea what was going on... my German is sorely lacking so I just wanted into the Grune Holle to figure out how to buy a ring sticker for the side of my M Coupe

I wound up renting a 1.8 MX5, which turned out to be great for my first time there. It had decent power (if I stayed in it thru Antoniusbuche I made 120mph; was getting 110mph thru the uphill esses at what would be turn 1/2, as well as at Adenaur-Forst), neutral handling and good brakes. I got passed by everything though; that was a bit scary but I stayed right and kept my blinker on (and gave point-bys when possible). Lap times were pretty bad though, pretty consistent 12 minutes heh heh heh. I did almost have an off in Pflanzgarten (I think), where the braking zone is a nice little hill... you have to hit that perfectly straight! Otherwise I was in complete amazement at how awesome the track is. The lack of control takes getting used to, as does getting passed by bikes at Kesselchen doing probably 70mph more than I was, but it was truly a worthwhile trip. On the way back, I made it from the Motorsport Hotel in Nurburg to Heathrow in under 8 hours, including 2 gas stops, the chunnel crossing and a sit down dinner in Belgium. Those euros are wacky; I followed a delivery truck at 105mph+ the whole way thru Belgium Thanks again for the dirs and hopefully I'll catch up with you next time I make the trip; based on last time it's going to be an annual thing if I can afford it!

Ryan
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Old 07-23-2002, 05:05 PM   #10
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Thanks guys. It was a pleasure Ryan.

I dont have enough webspace to put a video up on the net. If anyone wants to volunteer then i should be able to sort some footage from this weekend. Dont forget its going to be quite a long video as the lap is 13.5 miles!

In the meantime, take a look a Jorunds superb website, he has many great films on there and his friends and family are keeping his site live for now.

http://www.motorcycle-dk.com
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Old 07-23-2002, 07:32 PM   #11
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Outstanding nurb report as usual.

That car looks so damm good.
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Old 07-23-2002, 09:01 PM   #12
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yes, enjoyed the report as well!

Quote:
Shuey overtakes under yellow and then wins the world championship, F1 isnít fixed is it! LOL
Ok so I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking, "fastest lap? with a local yellow? hmmmm."

Raikkonen for president!
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Old 07-23-2002, 09:19 PM   #13
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John, have I mentioned that I hate you?

I am extrememly jealous. I would love to do the ring someday, but for now I can live vicariously through your excellent writing.
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Old 07-24-2002, 02:31 PM   #14
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Nice story man, wish I could've been there. Great picks too, although I hope that fellow with the Smart wasn't planning on racing it, or perhaps that's what the bikes on the back of it were for

Thanks for the report,

Justin
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Old 07-24-2002, 06:46 PM   #15
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Have a Nice Day?

Quote:
Originally posted by jamz
John, have I mentioned that I hate you?
Pretty much every week!
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Old 07-25-2002, 06:46 PM   #16
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Hey john, you mentioned you will be back at the ring in September. I will be back in Germany visiting the in-laws and friends for the last week of September/1st week of October. If it coincides with your trip I will certainly meet you down there. Otherwise I will try to hook up with the German Impreza GT club members for a drive.
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Old 07-26-2002, 11:19 AM   #17
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Great write up, I was practically there!
I sure would like to see your vid too.
Great looking/perfoming Sub too!
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Old 07-26-2002, 11:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by meebs
yes, enjoyed the report as well!



Ok so I'm glad I wasn't the only one thinking, "fastest lap? with a local yellow? hmmmm."

Raikkonen for president!
Kimi was off of the track, it was a local yellow, you can go as fast as you want, just no passing at the site of the flag.
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Old 07-26-2002, 11:47 AM   #19
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not quite true!

No passing is allowed from the point of the yellow flag to the point of the next green flag, which was after the corner. MS overtook under yellows, which is illegal. But what can you do when everyone is resigned to the fact that MS was going to win the tittle anyway? It wasnt worth bringing the sport into disrepute with an argument. The yellow is to show you that there is danger and you must be cautious, No overtaking is allowed, no matter what the circumstances, thats the rules, they should have been enforced by the stewards. Kimi was not off the track, he was on the kerbs and was forced to run wider due to the actions of MS, in a danger zone. Very bad form indeed, for all MS knew, there could have been a multi car pile up around the corner that had nothing to do with the toyota of McNish, thats why the rule is there to have specific zones between two flag marshals posts.

Back to nurburg.

i am there the weekend of sept 21/22 public opening times are http://www.nuerburgring.de/eng/angebote/sf_n_q3.htm

Looks like we are OK for before the NetworkQ Jamie (14th-17th Nov), the rally is a week ahead of last year and the ring is open the weekend before (9th-10th Nov) so we can follow the same format as last year.

I am waiting for my video to arive, then i'll try get that on the net somewhere, hopefully next week.
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Old 07-26-2002, 12:23 PM   #20
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Ok, but Kimi was off of the track, he went completely on the otherside of the curb, then began to re-enter, then had part of his car back over the curb as MS was coming through. That's how they explained it on the Speed Channel, or should I call it NASCAR Channel. It's up to Kimi to return onto the track safely isn't it?
You don't have to wait for someone that goes off track to come back on. It's the person who leaves the track to yield to on coming cars and re-enter safely?

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe for a second that MS didn't point his car to the point where he thought Kimi would re-enter. The way he took the corner certainly wasn't the quickest way around.
One thing for sure, I am at least hoping now for some truly exciting racing. It sure seems to me that the new Ferrari suits RB's driving style more than MS. I can't believe how well RB is driving. It sure would be nice to see him as No.1 on a good team.
Can't wait to check out the video!
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Old 07-26-2002, 12:42 PM   #21
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No worries. I know what your saying and i know how some comentators explained it away, but Kimi went very wide because of oil, he was ahead of MS when he started to regain the track so was on the track when MS forced him back off, over the kerbs. If Kimi had spun out and been right off the track i would agree with you on that it was OK to pass, but that wasnt the case this time. It was a dangerous move IMHO and MS did force Kimi to take an evasive action under yellows. Kimi would not have been able to see where MS was, the mirrors and side visibility dont allow for that, so MS had a duty to be cautious and not pass. It doesnt really matter but i dont like seeing that, how are up and coming kids going to read that? Its OK to take risks under yellow now? Just bad for the sport long term really.
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Old 07-26-2002, 12:57 PM   #22
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The governing bodies seem awfully wishy-washy these days. Isn't there a flag for oil too? Shouldn't they have also displayed that with the local yellow?
Anyway, thanks again for explaining this out.
The coverage sure is lacking here. The cameras missed all of the critical action. I guess I should be thankful we even get to watch the races. I think it was two years ago here you couldn't even watch the f1 races live!
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Old 07-26-2002, 05:30 PM   #23
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Pleasure.

yes, there is an oil (slippy surface, is put out when it starts to rain also) flag, red/yellow stripes. It should have been shown and it wasnt, which is why kimi lost it as he wasnt warned of a slippy surface. You have to hand it to MS, he saw Kimi lose grip and changed his line to avoid the oil, but that doesnt mean he was OK to pass under yellows.

MS is an awesome driver, which is why it bugs me when he does things that he shouldnt, he has the ability to process all the things going on around him and make the right choice, some would say he did because he went for the win, i personally think he has a responsibility to do the right thing within the rules. Yellows are not there mainly to protect the drivers, they are there to protect the marshals, drivers should not forget this, especially drivers with the ability of MS.
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Old 07-26-2002, 06:32 PM   #24
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So John, how did your brakes hold up? Are they truly track worthy?

I have a few other questions that you can email me the answer to if you don't think its appropriate here...

You mentioned you had your steering adjusted to compensate for bump steer. Can you explain what bump steer is and what you do to compensate for it and, perhaps, why you need too? thx.

Last edited by Arnie; 07-26-2002 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 07-26-2002, 07:33 PM   #25
johnfelstead
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Join Date: Feb 2000
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Location: Hampshire, England, UK
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The brakes are awesome, not even a tiny sign of fade and i was using my fast road pads rather than the full race ones as i wasnt intending in pushing too hard first trip out in the RA. For those that dont know, i have a set of AP racing CP5200 4 pot calipers using AP 330mm disks up front, the standard TypeRA 2 pot vented rears. They make a huge diference to stopping distance and importantly they are consistent.

The fronts, if anything are a bit too eficient compared to the rears when using an open centre diff setting. One way to improve this would be to move the centre diff control to give more front bias under braking. I can do this by hand but i am thinking of installing a system that would do this based on brake presure, we'll see if i get round to making that. It would be a fun project anyway.

Bump steer is nothing magical or misterious. When the suspension on the front (or rear when talking about rear bump steer) is compressed when you hit a bump, if the steering arms dont follow the same arc as the suspension arms then this cause the wheel to steer outwards or inwards depending on car design, so although you havent moved the steering wheel, the wheel seeing bump is steering away from ahead. This means that you arent in control of your steering and the car tends to steer itself off the straight ahead. It has an efect under braking and acceleration too, as it causes the toe to change which will cause less grip on braking and tyre scrub/lack of acuracy on acceleration.

The GC8 chassis has a lot of front bump steer, this tends to make the front understeer and the car is less precise and predictable than it could be. The WRX is much better in this respect. This is one of the reasons why the WRX has good front end bite.

Its very simple to dial out on the GC8. You need to shim the steering rack lower by using a packer between the rack and subframe and you need to pack the U clamps the same amount so the clamp holds the rack tightly. The amount you pack it depends on how much bump steer you have to start with. You need to measure the bump steer using toe guages, shim the rack and then measure it again. You should be able to get virtually no bump steer. We are only talking 5mm-10mm. There are diferences car to car due to tolerences on the production line.
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