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      11-17-2012, 03:35 PM   #1
francisyang
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lap time target for intermediate level at Thunderhill

Hi Guys,
For people who are familair with Thunderhill, I want to know what my lap time target should be.

I had around 10 track days some far, 3 in the stock 2012 M3 (7 in 350z), 5 at Thunderhill. I went to the BWMCCA driving school at Thunderhill last weekend, and it was a great event, I learned a lot. I was in group C and my best lap time was around 2'19.

Please let me know what you think the lap time of stock 2012 M3 should be with intermediate level driver. So that I have a target in mind

Thanks
Francis
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      11-17-2012, 04:56 PM   #2
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I'm an intermediate driver running an 11 M3 that's stock except for upgraded brake fluid and pads, but honestly I don't feel that I should be timing myself at this point. I think the knowledge that I was timing myself would subconsciously change the decisions I make, and not for the better -- plus I think I still have enough general technique to learn/improve (throttle steer, trail braking) that using times and telemetry to compare lines and such isn't necessary yet.

Also my insurance coverage isn't in effect when I'm timing myself, and I suspect the reason for that is the psychological impact that timing has. I read an article on the Nurburgring where the officials said that when there's an accident, 80% of the time the driver was using some sort of timing device.
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      11-17-2012, 05:42 PM   #3
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I wouldn't aim for faster times. Just try to be the best/smoothest driver you can be. Until you're in the red/black group, you really shouldn't be attempting to shave off seconds. That's when you get in trouble IMO.

There's no mystery as to why 90% of HPDE accidents happen in the intermediate groups.

If you find yourself pacing or passing other drivers in the intermediate group without pushing yourself too hard, then you know you're above par for the group.
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      11-17-2012, 06:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkiv808 View Post
I wouldn't aim for faster times. Just try to be the best/smoothest driver you can be. Until you're in the red/black group, you really shouldn't be attempting to shave off seconds. That's when you get in trouble IMO.

There's no mystery as to why 90% of HPDE accidents happen in the intermediate groups.

If you find yourself pacing or passing other drivers in the intermediate group without pushing yourself too hard, then you know you're above par for the group.

Agreed. Your instructor will let you know when it's time to move up a group.

I asked one of my instructors when I'd be ready to move up to the advanced group and he said, "when no one is passing you." Just work on vision and being smooth and the lap times will take care of themselves.
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      11-17-2012, 07:45 PM   #5
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Agreed with others. I once placed my iPhone in a way I can see the timing, and I imminently realized how distracting it is.

Record your times, but in a way that you can't see them during your session. The reason why I say record your times is to have a general idea about your progress.
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      11-17-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erhan View Post
Agreed with others. I once placed my iPhone in a way I can see the timing, and I imminently realized how distracting it is.

Record your times, but in a way that you can't see them during your session. The reason why I say record your times is to have a general idea about your progress.
Totally agree. I use Harry's lap timer and it's mounted on the passenger side so I don't look at it until the session is over. I ran Thill in reverse and ran 2:26. It was my first track day in my M3. My friends were running 2:08. I didn't care as it was my first time on a track in my precious. I had a great time and was able to drive home without any damages.
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      11-18-2012, 12:36 AM   #7
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My best time at Thunderhill is also 2:19. Think I was in a low intermediate group so most of the day traffic was holding me up a little-- due to m3 ability not driver skill

Only have 4 days or so under my belt (2 at t-hill) but times were dropping as the day went on to a best of 2.19. M dynamic mode. DCT. Traction control saved me once in corner 3 I think it was (off camber after long left). Definitely was not braking that aggressive and let off a little early on long straight.

I was going to ask an instructor to ride along to see if he thought I should graduate to intermediate but thought it was better to get more seat time in the lower groups before moving up. It's stressful being one of the slower cars and I find I make mistakes when someone is coming up on me..

Last edited by forced03; 11-18-2012 at 12:50 AM.
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      11-18-2012, 02:18 AM   #8
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Guys, thanks a lot for your replies. I think you are right, I should focus on the skills instead of the lap time Have a nice weekend

Thanks
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      11-18-2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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Hey Francis, I'd like to take a stab at replying to your post and give you a bit of a different perspective. I too have just started tracking an e92 M3 and have been to Thill. I've done two events with the Cyclone, and one with the bypass. My car is stock, except for pads. My very first day, I got down into the 2:21s. The second day, it was down to the 2:12s with lots of 13s, 14s and 15s.
There are may ways to measure one's driving, but isn't time the universal yardstick? I use Harry's, and the lap data is very helpful to me in understanding what I did right and what I did wrong--and a way to know what skills I need to improve upon. Although I enjoy chasing (and passing) much faster cars, my ultimate goal is improving my own time. I guess I see smoothness more as a skill to develop, not an end goal.

Cheers,
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      11-18-2012, 09:33 PM   #10
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^ Time is the universal measure (and for some the ultimate goal), but it's also VERY general; it tells you you're improving (or not), but not HOW to improve. And as others have also noted, knowledge of your time and that you're being timed has its price in terms of distraction, decision-making, and possibly insurance coverage.

I would argue that at the beginning and intermediate stages when you're still improving by leaps and bounds before you start working harder for smaller improvements in advanced groups, you don't need a timer or telemetry to tell that you're getting significantly faster; it's just too big a difference not to be perfectly obvious. Your instructor will be able to tell you what general techniques you need to work on or start incorporating in order to continue going faster. Telemetry comes in AFTER you can consistently and correctly apply all of the general techniques and want to see the impact of minor line/technique adaptations.

I'm out there to become a skilled driver and of course have a great time. Smoothness and technique application IS actually my end goal, not lower times, because I see fast lap times as a byproduct of achieving my goal. But striving for fast lap times won't automatically make someone smooth or skilled in technique. You get fast by being smooth, not the other way around.
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      06-29-2013, 11:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by francisyang View Post
Hi Guys,
For people who are familair with Thunderhill, I want to know what my lap time target should be.

I had around 10 track days some far, 3 in the stock 2012 M3 (7 in 350z), 5 at Thunderhill. I went to the BWMCCA driving school at Thunderhill last weekend, and it was a great event, I learned a lot. I was in group C and my best lap time was around 2'19.

Please let me know what you think the lap time of stock 2012 M3 should be with intermediate level driver. So that I have a target in mind

Thanks
Francis
I had the same issue recently at Thunderhill. I could not get my track time under 2:20 in the stock E90 M3. The car should be capable of sub-2 minute lap times.

I am thinking I should disable traction control (no "M" button on mine -- just DSC on/off). Anyone have thoughts on this? I have 5 track days total, 3 at Thunderhill and 2 at Laguna Seca, all with traction control on.

My biggest specific complaint is on turns 11-12-13, specifically turn 12, when you drive over the rough, corrugated pavement on the right side of the track to straighten out those turns, the traction control essentially prevents any acceleration until you are on the smooth part of the track approaching turn 13 and the back straightaway. I think that alone is costing me a couple of seconds at least.
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      06-30-2013, 01:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWE90 View Post
I had the same issue recently at Thunderhill. I could not get my track time under 2:20 in the stock E90 M3. The car should be capable of sub-2 minute lap times.

I am thinking I should disable traction control (no "M" button on mine -- just DSC on/off). Anyone have thoughts on this? I have 5 track days total, 3 at Thunderhill and 2 at Laguna Seca, all with traction control on.

My biggest specific complaint is on turns 11-12-13, specifically turn 12, when you drive over the rough, corrugated pavement on the right side of the track to straighten out those turns, the traction control essentially prevents any acceleration until you are on the smooth part of the track approaching turn 13 and the back straightaway. I think that alone is costing me a couple of seconds at least.
Sub 2 seconds doesn't sound realistic to me stock, but it's really hard to say without someone like Randy Pobst setting the pace in a stock car.

Everyone has their own opinion on driving with DSC off, but I'd say if you are going to try it, Thunderhill is the place to do it and definitely slow your pace down a lot and work your way up slowly.

The big issue with turning DSC off for the first timers is not knowing what to do when the car does start to oversteer. Everyone thinks they know, but from what I've seen, most have something wrong (including me until I got help). And if you start driving with DSC off, it's going to happen eventually.

I was lucky enough to take the Skip Barber Advanced Car Control class right about when I started turning DSC off at the track and I'm very thankful that I did. I would have ended up spinning and possibly crashing my car multiple times by now if I hadn't taken that class. It's basically a half a day of "drifting" in a sense as you are practicing trail braking and throttle lift oversteer, but they encourage you to go sideways so you can work on your car control. You gain a lot of knowledge, skill, and confidence in controlling a car that's potentially on it's way out of control.
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      06-30-2013, 10:39 PM   #13
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I remember at the last cca event some idiot in a gt3 thought he did so much better from session to session because he improved his time by 30 seconds. Maybe in his mind he was doing that much better but his skills were horrid. He was trying to creep back on track (head on btw!) while i and other cars were coming in at 100-120mph and i passed and lapped him almost twice in a single session. So time doesnt do anything. Maybe he thought he got better but there was a whole lot more he could have learned and focused on rather than timing. He was also an arrogant douche in the classroom and it was laughable.
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      07-01-2013, 12:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SP33DRCR View Post
but isn't time the universal yardstick?
Hardly.

Between a fresh set of R-comps like Hoosier R-6es to a set with a dozen heat cycles, the difference per lap could be in the magnitude of a couple of second per lap. Between a lap in brisk 60 degrees temperature and 105 degrees can be the difference of 5+ seconds per lap. If you're in a group with a lot of traffic, and predefined and limited passing zones, a clean lap vs a lap stuck in traffic can be as much as 10 seconds difference.

When you start comparing times by different drivers driving different cars, all bets are off. Tires, suspension, brakes...etc all will contribute to some big disparities in lap time even at the same tack, not to mention temperature and humidity.

For example, at our last event at Auto Club Speedway, my fastest lap was achieved during the first session when it was in the high 60s, despite my later sessions having higher average cornering speed. But the next two sessions were ran in mid to high 90s, with top speed on the front straight being several MPH slower and speed through turn 2, the LONG banked NASCAR oval having higher speed in the cooler session.

Yet I know for sure my driving in the 2nd and 3rd sessions were much better than the first.
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      07-01-2013, 08:53 AM   #15
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I am intermediate. For now, I have the timer on but way over at the passenger A pillar, so I cannot see it. So, I cannot pay any attention to it when I am driving, but I can analyze my results later.
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      07-01-2013, 12:24 PM   #16
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Your thread has received more traffic recently, Francis! I stumbled upon this thread when i was trying to find lap times for Thunderhill bypass config. Whatever you were running on Friday, subtract a second or two cause it was SOOOO HOT. It was good seeing you again, man.
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      07-02-2013, 12:29 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by radiantm3 View Post
Sub 2 seconds doesn't sound realistic to me stock, but it's really hard to say without someone like Randy Pobst setting the pace in a stock car.
Here is my 2:00 lap at Thunderhill (w/ bypass) from a couple years ago with only AST's and NT01's. That's about as fast as I'm willing to go without a cage.
We need to get a petition going to have car and driver do a lightning lap at Thunderhill to set the record straight for us.

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      07-02-2013, 01:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by RickyBobby View Post
Here is my 2:00 lap at Thunderhill (w/ bypass) from a couple years ago with only AST's and NT01's. That's about as fast as I'm willing to go without a cage.
We need to get a petition going to have car and driver do a lightning lap at Thunderhill to set the record straight for us.

Very nice! I'm a lifetime away from that kind of time even with my mods, but suspension and r-comps are far from stock. Yea it would be awesome to see some stock benchmark times at Thunderhill (and Sears for that matter).
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      07-02-2013, 07:21 AM   #19
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For most intermediate drivers, IMO, the goal is to be able to safely be in command of the car. So that means you already understand the fast line AND why it is fast. You're eyes are up, you're smooth on the controls, you identify potential safety risks early AND you're playing well with others.

When I say in command, you are ahead of the car. You know what happens if you step on the brakes harder. Basically, you are balancing the car through the turns vs accelerating, turning, and braking.

Once you get consistent at that then lap times will become useful and useful.

Just my $.02.
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      07-02-2013, 08:35 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Very nice! I'm a lifetime away from that kind of time even with my mods, but suspension and r-comps are far from stock. Yea it would be awesome to see some stock benchmark times at Thunderhill (and Sears for that matter).
I think Road and Track ran a 1:43 lap at Laguna Seca ... or maybe it was Car and Driver. I googled it. Hey, on the plus side, I just have to make up 1 second on every single turn ...

Now to conquer the bypass at Thunderhill which still freaks me out (no idea why; turn 9 is a bigger blind drop). Turn 5 was my favorite on the whole track until they opened the bypass last Friday which I hated.
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      07-02-2013, 12:00 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by RickyBobby View Post
Here is my 2:00 lap at Thunderhill (w/ bypass) from a couple years ago with only AST's and NT01's. That's about as fast as I'm willing to go without a cage.
We need to get a petition going to have car and driver do a lightning lap at Thunderhill to set the record straight for us.

I saw this on youtube awhile back! That is seriously fast, man. I'm on RS3's/Dinan springs and can only hit 2:09's, though this was in 100+ deg weather. Any braking mods? I don't have any besides stoptech street pads and had to run a cool down every other lap
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      07-02-2013, 07:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpvince
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyBobby View Post
Here is my 2:00 lap at Thunderhill (w/ bypass) from a couple years ago with only AST's and NT01's. That's about as fast as I'm willing to go without a cage.
We need to get a petition going to have car and driver do a lightning lap at Thunderhill to set the record straight for us.

I saw this on youtube awhile back! That is seriously fast, man. I'm on RS3's/Dinan springs and can only hit 2:09's, though this was in 100+ deg weather. Any braking mods? I don't have any besides stoptech street pads and had to run a cool down every other lap
Just track pads and stock calipers in this video. I eventually did upgrade to a stoptech kit but I haven't found them to make me any faster, just more consistent after multiple laps.
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