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      05-29-2009, 02:32 AM   #1
Hellride's Avatar

Drives: 2008 E92 M3 Jet Black
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Southern California

iTrader: (0)

Season Opener - Streets of Willow, CA

My season opener started 5/9 with a weekend at The Streets of Willow. I was very excited for a couple of reasons - obviously for my first event of the year after a long down time since my last event in December, but also because this year I brought with me a dedicated set of track tires&wheels, new brake pads, a bit more experience, and an eagerness to practice and to get better. I don’t have a ton of pictures, but here are a few thoughts from my first weekend of the year.

The track: a 1.3 mile course about 2 hours north of Newport, CA. It can be and was run both CW and CCW. I really do enjoy this track, but sadly it isn’t in very good shape and thus notoriously not very friendly on wheels. It is a technical and a somewhat deceptively safe track as there are no walls in play. However there many areas that a lack of concentration can get you to drop one, two, or all four wheels (and many cars did just that) which can get you into some decent trouble. I enjoy both directions, but find CCW is more fun with faster times. Since it is in the desert it can get very very hot, and windy and the track gets dirty quickly.

The day(s): Both were incredibly hot. Topping out at 93 degrees F and getting windy enough to take down the many EZ ups around the paddocks. With my new set up (wider tires) and the heat - I did see the PS fluid overflow for the first time. By midday, I also had to slow it down as the oil temps got hot enough for warning messages to show up. The gauge easily passed 270 midway through these sessions. Another first.

The set up: Servotronic: sport, DSC: off, Power: normal, EDC: Sport Tires: BFG R1’s (heat cycled) 265/35 F, 275/35 R mounted on 18x9 and 18x10 TRM-MT1’s Brakes: Stock rotors, lines, fluids, and calipers with PFC-01 pads up front - custom cut from pads meant for the E46, completely stock rear. Everything else: stock.

The car: Qualitatively - I should not be surprised anymore - but I am. This car gets the attention. We had many cars at the event, with some “exotics” (as well as the new 7 series which was not tracked) and purpose built race cars, but my car was only one of two E92’s that showed up. Many thumbs up and much interest, whispers, and glances at the car. Quantitatively, this car still performs amazingly. Nothing new for us to hear - chassis and body roll is very uniform, very smooth - and extremely predictable. As hot as it was, it drove solidly with the only real issue being the PS overflow and the overheating (very understandable) but the engine never missed a beat and was always smooth throughout its entire power band. DCT also performed excellently - no delay, no lag, amazing rev match - right gear when you called it. Perfect. The only downside: this car is over-sensor’d. I know it is a good thing overall, but in the course of the event, I received the following alerts: DSC failure, EDC failure, ABS failure, and Dynamic Braking System failure. In between sessions these alerts reset and may or may not be seen again. The car performed regardless. I figure it was due to the track pads, wider and shorter wheels, and of course the heat.

The tires: Some good/some bad. These tires really need way more camber than stock set up can provide. On this type of track the minimum front recommend from BFG is at least -2 up front. The first day I ran a bit hot as BFG recommends hot PSI as high as 43+ for a car this heavy which also seemed to be the edge of the grip envelope. I started pretty hot to avoid roll (first few session came off at 47 and 48, but I slowly came down through the sessions to 43+. Anything beyond this and no grip, but anything below this would tear up the shoulder. More camber would be best as I feel this tire would have endless grip in the mid/high 30’s. Unfortunately, it was too late for me and the front was corded pretty badly by the end of the weekend. The rears held up very nicely, though. Will be looking at camber plates eventually, but until then will be running pretty hot and trying to hold on. At any rate, I did find it took some time to get them to temperature and find the grip.

The wheels: Also some good/some bad. Incredibly light weight, perfect fits (fronts are very close but do indeed fit) no rubbing, no spacers, and they are inexpensive. However, they are soft and can bend easily. After the weekend both front wheels were bent. This is indeed not a wheel friendly track, but I suspect any pot hole or even an aggressive burm could cause trouble. As a comparison, last time I was here on stock wheels (also cast) and they survived quite well. I will continue to run them but eventually I will move to forged wheels when more options are available.

The brake pads: ALL good. With stock pads, by end of each session the brakes felt spongy with less bite and less power. With some cooling between and during runs this can be somewhat avoided, but with each session I just had to push back my braking point. I’ve read about SS lines, better fluid, BBK’s, etc solving this but my local shop said all I need is the PFC-01 pads. They were spot on. No fade, no wobble, total confidence all weekend long. I could out brake everything - and it was quick: so fast on, fast off. If there was something to pick on, since I only ran the fronts I felt the rear squabble a bit sometimes under heavy braking. Eventually when the actual product is out, I will go four corners. The wear was even, cleaned my rotors nicely (no deposits post weekend), and there is still a ton of pad left. I have no doubt, this is the pad to get.

The results: Pretty good. CCW I beat my best time by over three seconds and CW I beat my time 2 seconds. Looking forward to the rest of the season, finding the sweet spot with these tires, and learning lots.
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