Sunday, April 15, 2012

Renegade Miata Autox School 4-14-12

This year I chose to attend the school that Renegade Miata held. I wasn't planning to learn that much especially since most of the instructors in that club don't really have experience in a high powered AWD car. I was, however, planning to get some seat time to get a better handle on the new suspension.

We spent the morning practicing on one of three elements. There was one section with multiple "clam shells", a second with a "kidney bean" and the third was several slaloms. I was pleasantly surprised in two of the sections in which the instructors were able to give me some good advice and some things to work on. One of which was that on elements like sweepers and other similar bits that require making some sort of turn that is more than 90 degrees I am not looking ahead enough. I was looking ahead, just not enough. The second thing I was advised on was to shorten my braking zones and brake harder (to the threshold) while there. In the offset clam shells I also found that with the new suspension I need to do less (or no) braking while navigating them. Instead I needed just lift and "coast" through. I spent a little time during all this to try out some different settings on the shocks to see what felt best.

In the afternoon a full course was set up for us to run. Since the club is small and the school was even smaller we had time to put in 6 runs before packing up. This was great since it allowed me to put everything to use on a real course. They did time the runs but since it was a school they are not posting all the times. I did get a chance to look at my times and compare them to some of the instructors/other experienced drivers that also ran the course. My best time of 113.380 was on my 5th run. This was good enough to top one of the instructors who was running an M3 on slicks. I was also right on pace (within tenths) of a very experienced member of NER who was driving his SS Lotus Elise. The only other drivers times of note that I saw was Grant Reeves in his SS Z06. I was 3 seconds behind him which is a lot but he is one of the fastest drivers in NER that drives a street car. At the last event I was about 3.3sec behind him but that course was nearly half the length and therefor the 3 seconds was a lot worse in that case than it was yesterday (in my opinion).

Below is a video of my best run:

The other lesson I learned was the biggest! I tinkered around with using launch control during some of the runs. I knew that it isn't the best thing to do but I wanted to try it out. I like it and I had some nice launches but on my last run of the day after starting off I noticed that I had a sudden loss of power and the car sounded strange. I had my AP plugged in and dataloging, as well as displaying Fine Knock Learning. During the loss of power I glanced down to see that it had recorded a ton of knock and it happened any time I really got on the gas. Needless to say I threw the last run and just cruised around the course out of boost. I thought for sure I had popped the motor! I started to pack up and change my wheels over and then spoke with some corner workers and confirmed that there was NO smoke out the exhaust. The car started up fine when I was ready to go but I experienced the same events when I got into boost on the street. After arriving home I started making plans to tear things apart today to try and find what went wrong. Thanks to Josh (Acejam2k) for allowing me to pick his brain on the issue. He came over after with some tools and ideas. Once we had taken a look at the memory on the ECU (which didn't show any long term learned issues) we agreed that I should reset the ECU. Later I went for a quick drive around town and could not get it to reproduce the issue. This morning I went out and did a couple good pulls on the highway and couldn't log any knock whatsoever! Thankfully the issue seems to have just been due to my ignorance about the LC. It seemed to have forced some short term timing changes that made the car run like crap. Ultimately, it wasn't an issue for long so I am sure it will be fine and I have learned my lesson!

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