Sometimes things just don't go precisely as you expect, and this is especially true at the race track. My last project series, Project Z4 M, progressed perfectly, with each performance addition resulting in a machine far more capable than the bone-stock starting point, as shown by the Traqmate GPS test data.
Unfortunately, Project GT3, to this point, has encountered some testing pitfalls. Let me explain: Baseline testing of the factory-fresh 2010 GT3 started well, with lap times consistently in the high 1:24s at my home track-some four seconds faster than the completed Project Z4 M. I can tell you without a doubt that the new GT3 is a bloody fast car straight from the factory.
I had plenty of track experience with the new car at the tail end of last season, logging about 600 miles there and some 3,500 total miles on the odometer, so such excellent lap times were gladly accepted. However, once the modding started and incremental GPS testing commenced, beginning with the StopTech brake upgrade we featured in Part 2, weather was not at all on our side. Cold temperatures and a rainy spring made for a difficult time bedding the new brakes (after all, I am reporting from Calgary). Also, the StopTechs are so damn good at dissipating heat that I had to resort to blocking off the brake ducts to properly accomplish bedding for the full-race brake pads. Once this task was complete, the rains began and continued through April and May. I did have plenty of track time, but the preferred test conditions are warm sunny days on dry pavement; these are the best control conditions (as when the baseline data was collected) for incremental testing.
By the time June came along my ego was most certainly ruffled by not accomplishing much in the way of positive results for this series. On the first decent June track day I finally collected a mountain of new and desperately needed GPS data. By this time I had some 1,000 miles at the track and close to 5,500 miles on the odometer. Lap times in the fastest session of the day were in the mid 1:24s, but I was still disappointed. Something just wasn't right, but this was through no fault of the new brakes. The Stoptech STR assemblies inspire confidence with superb pedal feel, eye popping deceleration, and can be beaten on all day with zero fade.
All GPS lap testing is done "blind"; that is to say, I do not use my digital readout for lap times inside the car since I feel that the results are more effective and controlled if the driver isn't pushed by knowing his lap time may be off-pace. Afterward, a full data analysis showed a strong improvement in the braking effect that allowed for later braking, but the speed in some of the faster corners was reduced in comparison to baseline, resulting in no net reduction in lap times. I figured my OEM Pirelli Corsa System tires were likely now past their prime, resulting in the less-than-satisfactory lap times. With that, I decided to just move on to the next upgrade: a new set of wheels and tires.
The new rubber would be more than welcome, and I was fairly sure it would help me get back on track to achieving faster lap times. I selected the Toyo R888, as it is an R-compound DOT-approved competition radial ideal for track days and high-performance driving schools. It features a semi-slick shoulder area to increase cornering force and a unidirectional tread pattern with V-shaped grooves to enhance wet traction and control. The continuous center contact delivers excellent directional control during hard braking, and its stiff sidewalls and rounded outer shoulder help to maintain tire contact with the pavement. Also, the wear rating is 100, so these tires will stick to the track like Crazy Glue on a Darwin award-winner.