Learning Levels of Grip

Recently my last track day, the forecast called for thunderstorms. This was a good thing because I wanted to feel how summer tires fair in the wet when you are really pushing the limit. I was on worn out Nitto NT05, and on the dry they are great tires. This is actually my 2nd set and the cheapest 200 treadwear tire for my size. I would like to thank Alex from http://www.street-form.com/blog with the dope pics!

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Unfortunately I didn’t have a tent for my tools and spare wheels so those got soaked. At least I didn’t need to use them. Out on the track its was a challenging to drive clean and being careful not to go off course.

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What I learned racing in the wet:

1. Don’t go all out in your first run….. I noticed people at the track tend to go all out when its the beginning of the session. For me, thats not how I do it. How can you run if you can’t crawl, right? If you go balls to walls on the first run, you have a higher chance of spinning out or worse crashing becuase you are not familiar with the course or track surface. I like to go smooth and steady first and learn the course before I really push it. Slowly increasing speed and braking later with each run. You got all day, whats the rush.

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2. Nitto NT05 work well in the rain even in when its worn out! I thought I was going to be all over the place but for the most part my car felt stable and grip was there. There is a long sweeper on the course and I was thinking the NT05 wont be able to turn in the wet but it gripped! I was even adding gas to the sweeper to see if it would understeer but I got oversteer, which isn’t a bad thing. I want oversteer instead of understeer becuase you can turn the car in better and can control it better (if you get it right). When the tires did loose grip, it was still predictable and progressive. The NT05 gave me confidence to push harder. I never had a sense that I was all over the place.

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My tires my before track day

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My tires after tack day. They wore out pretty fast even in the rain, but I was running nonstop with a couple of 15 mins rest sessions.

3. You can’t go as fast compared to the dry… Duh. I know it sounds dumb and common sense but to actually experience this is something that you really understand. The grip is very low in the wet and its something you have to account for. Your braking comes in sooner, than in the dry, and the pedal modulation is more sensitive to your input. I was learning to control the tires from spinning too much or sliding out of control. Hydroplaning is a big thing to watch out for and trust me when it was pouring, like cats and dogs, it felt like those tightrope walkers. One wrong move and its the end. You have to find that very small window of grip because too much or too little gas, brakes or steering can send you out of control. The faster you go, that small window of grip becomes even smaller. Yes is did go off course a couple of times but that is becuase of driver error and not the car. Here is video of me learning the course then losing it but luckily managed to stay on course.

4. A wider tract makes a difference! So last week before this event I went on to a autocross and I took off my spacers, because I was worried of rubbing. Well since it was raining I didn’t want to get wet removing my spacers, so I kept it on. I can tell the 15mm spacer made a significant difference. The 15mm spacer in the rear made the car feel more stable and planted than without the spacer. I was feeling this in the rain, what more when its dry!

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Managed to get 0.8g in the wet! I honestly don’t know how accurate that is but I was using my iPhone for my car telemetry.

5. Its okay if your car gets dirty. Maybe I should pull up to Wekfest like this….

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My fastest time I manage to get with a semi wet track:


 

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