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      09-30-2011, 10:04 AM   #1
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First Track Day in M3

Just thought I'd share some thoughts on my first time in my new M3 after it's first track day. I'm sure I will bore most of you with this, but hoping to get some advise on a couple of things and hoping maybe some of this will help.
Ok, first the setup:
Ordered the car the last week of July and got the car 3 weeks ago. Drove everywhere I could to get 1,200 miles on it. Got the service done last Friday and got the last 100 miles on it this week. Had Akrapovic Evolution Exhaust (special thanks to Andrew at IND for talking me into the exhaust, it's amazing!) installed at PDI, stainless brake lines, Motul 600 fluid, and Ferodo DS2500 pads (special thanks to Harold at HP Autowerks). I ran Hankook C51 R-Compounds 275/35/18 all the way around on Apex Arc 8's.
Yesterday was my first run at High Plains Raceway. After my first session driving with a Porsche Instructor I felt like the car was a complete disapoinment, and even more-so, I was a dissapointment to the car. I was lost most of the time on the track and felt like the car was really getting upset with my inputs. Then I noticed something lit up by the shifter. The Power button. I guess I had set it to Power Plus when I was setting up M-Drive. I still don't know what the difference is between Power Plus and Power. Either way, I immediately went into the M-Drive and turned it to normal.
Second session started a lot like the first with me. Still didn't remember the track (it had been 4 hours since I had gone out the first time. We were trying to help out a friend with his Lotus) and was lost again. I did notice that my throttle inputs were way better, as well as my friend that was riding with me. Imagine that, now when I'm giving the car 20% I'm actually getting 20%, instead of 80% throttle. After about lap 7 the tires were getting really sticky and taking a bite. I felt like I was really starting to align with the car and not overdriving it anymore. However, while the tires were getting sticky the brakes were starting to get really hot. So 2 more laps and then I started to cool down.
Third session. I decided to fly solo and play some cat and mouse with my buddies Cayman GTR. His Cayman was running street tires, so it's really not a fair comparison, but life's not fair. The GTR has a 3.8 liter X51 911 motor in it, so it's fast. Apparently not as fast as an E92 M3 though. I was catching him everytime. The only thing he would kill me on was braking. He has PCB, I don't even have multi-piston calipers. I started getting really comfortable with the car and decided to go ahead and make a pass and start hunting. The car never failed me with its handling or power delivery. I did take some other board member's advise and left the transmission in S4, instead of S5. It never faultered once. I had a little bit of a pucker factor with my brakes on the back straight going 140 mph+ and them deciding to go straight into ABS when I barely touched the pedal.
So, here's what I think about the car. It's an A all the way around. I think some Porsche owners were very surprised to see the little red car keeping up with them, and in some cases passing them. I was comparing my M3 to a much more race-oriented vehicle to see if I could be happy with this car and the answer is a resounding YES. The brakes get a D-. I thought I would give them an F, but they actually held out ok. The hottest temp I got after a 1 lap cooldown was 580 degrees. That's really freaking hot. Obviously Ferodo did a good job with the pads. I have no complaints about the Motul fluid either, but based on what Harold has told me, as well as other forum members I will be changing to the Castrol on my next brake flush.
Here's my delimma. I think the brake setup I am using would work if I just got some ducting to cool them off, but I have yet to see a complete kit. The other option is to just upgrade to the Stoptech Trophies or Brembos. I have time to decide, as the next track day is at the end of October and I am going to take a pass and not take it out until Spring of next year.
The conclusion: The worst aspect of this car is actually two-fold. The brakes just don't cut it on a car that's name is Motorsport. The other is actually quite interesting to me. The car puts you into a false sense of security. It is so good at what it does that you feel like Superman out there. In contrast, the other car I have been tracking tries to kill you the whole time. I really think with better brakes and camber plates I will end up killing myself in this car, because it just does everything so well. The best aspect of this car is exactly my last sentence. It does everything so well. I am thrilled to own one and just wanted to share my experience from yesterday.
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      09-30-2011, 10:45 AM   #2
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Nice writeup. Yeah, the brakes do suck on this car for track duty. Had changed pads and fluid and still fried the brakes so got a BBK and couldn't be happier. This car is sooo easy to drive fast it's almost unhealthy. Seems like others have to work much harder than we do and that's what I love about it. It's amazing to me that a sedan (in my case but applies to the coupe as well) can push vipers, vettes, and porsches to the side as you fly by. Other than the brakes, this is a great out of the box track star that can take the family out to dinner... Enjoy the car, sounds like you are and will, it's truly one of a kind
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      09-30-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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I feel the same way about the Power button. I set it to Normal for my M mode. It makes throttle modulation much easier and your shift points (6MT) stay the same. With the Power button it changes all your shift points and the throttle is way to sensitive to modulate on track.

Really stupid feature IMHO, all it does is reduce the resolution of your throttle inputs. If I want 50% throttle, I don't want 100% throttle - I want 50%! If I wanted 100%, I can put my foot to the floor.
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      09-30-2011, 12:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Z K View Post
I feel the same way about the Power button. I set it to Normal for my M mode. It makes throttle modulation much easier and your shift points (6MT) stay the same. With the Power button it changes all your shift points and the throttle is way to sensitive to modulate on track.

Really stupid feature IMHO, all it does is reduce the resolution of your throttle inputs. If I want 50% throttle, I don't want 100% throttle - I want 50%! If I wanted 100%, I can put my foot to the floor.
I'm different than you

I like the Power button :P
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      09-30-2011, 01:13 PM   #5
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I used to like the M button (i.e. super sport throttle), but now I don't, as you get better control with it off. I do, however, like my sprint booster mod as it makes the arrival of power more predictable.
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      09-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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Your one intermediate option would be to go to a full race pad and change them out before every track day. It looks like your "Ferodo DS2500 pads" are a semi-race pad that are fully street able, meaning they will actually bite @ cold temperatures. Something like a PFC 01 or Pagid RS19 should take the extra heat (but don't work cold). But if you have the budget, nothing beats a 380mm BBK drool.

I second the NO-power button. It is much easier to modulate power without it, I especially notice it accelerating out of turns; without it on you can feel how much traction you have and throttle until you are @ the limit of traction.
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      09-30-2011, 02:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merked M3 View Post
Your one intermediate option would be to go to a full race pad and change them out before every track day. It looks like your "Ferodo DS2500 pads" are a semi-race pad that are fully street able, meaning they will actually bite @ cold temperatures. Something like a PFC 01 or Pagid RS19 should take the extra heat (but don't work cold). But if you have the budget, nothing beats a 380mm BBK drool.

I second the NO-power button. It is much easier to modulate power without it, I especially notice it accelerating out of turns; without it on you can feel how much traction you have and throttle until you are @ the limit of traction.
I don't know the Ferodo pads, but PFC-01 and Carbotech XP-12 do a great fade free job with Ate fluids (no experience with Pagids). Hawk DTC-70's not so much. I have started eating pads recently as I have moved to advanced, so i am getting a BBK (maybe ducts) for next year.
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      09-30-2011, 03:07 PM   #8
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I agree that switching to a full track pad would probably help a little, but I still think it will just be a bandaid for what I will end up doing, a BBK. I really like the Stoptech Trophies, because you can switch pads so easily. Harold was telling me that it takes less than 5 minutes per caliper, since you don't have to remove them. Ugh, the money you have to spend for these things is a chunk, but I think it will be worth it.
Just curious, anybody want to chime in on what the difference is between Sport and Sport Plus? I know I've determined that I don't use it on the track, but still can't figure out what the Plus actually does. Thanks for all of your responses and I really do think this is a great car.
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      09-30-2011, 03:19 PM   #9
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I might need to take another look at my technique, but I find heel-toe downshifting much easier with power enabled.
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      09-30-2011, 03:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by stefan View Post
I might need to take another look at my technique, but I find heel-toe downshifting much easier with power enabled.
It is much easier with a sprint booster mod on the throttle, as the dialed in electronic throttle lag is removed (it also give the illusion of more power!)

Q:

Why the preference for Stoptech Trophy over regular Stoptech? I thought the only difference was weight, but if you are not doing other weight reduction, there would be no difference.
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      09-30-2011, 04:08 PM   #11
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After speaking with Harold for a long time about it, it seems that the weight reduction is definitely a big factor, but also how much stronger they are. I didn't have him elaborate much, but the part I caught was that there is a lot less flex, because of how much stronger they are over the normal Stoptechs. That's a big deal to me, as yesterday I really didn't feel like I had much feedback from the pedal and what the brakes were doing. It kind of felt like a Nintendo to me with an on/off switch. I know that a normal Stoptech kit would still be a huge improvement over what I have now, but I figure if I'm going to fork out the kind of dough for a BBK, I may as well get the best they offer for what I'm looking for. If money were no object at all, I'd be doing Alcon (had them on my RS6 and loved them), but they are really pricey. I also like that the trophies are anodized so the paint won't fade when they get hot. Like I said, any of the kits are better than stock. I'd love it if Harold happens on this thread. I'm sure he could explain some of the benefits a little more than I can.
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      09-30-2011, 04:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisfast View Post
After speaking with Harold for a long time about it, it seems that the weight reduction is definitely a big factor, but also how much stronger they are. I didn't have him elaborate much, but the part I caught was that there is a lot less flex, because of how much stronger they are over the normal Stoptechs. That's a big deal to me, as yesterday I really didn't feel like I had much feedback from the pedal and what the brakes were doing. It kind of felt like a Nintendo to me with an on/off switch. I know that a normal Stoptech kit would still be a huge improvement over what I have now, but I figure if I'm going to fork out the kind of dough for a BBK, I may as well get the best they offer for what I'm looking for. If money were no object at all, I'd be doing Alcon (had them on my RS6 and loved them), but they are really pricey. I also like that the trophies are anodized so the paint won't fade when they get hot. Like I said, any of the kits are better than stock. I'd love it if Harold happens on this thread. I'm sure he could explain some of the benefits a little more than I can.
http://www.stoptech.com/Products/trophy.shtml

The wording "still have the same stiffness" in the blurb suggests the stiffness of the two types is equivalent. I am thinking that you want as much heat capacity (i.e. caliper and rotor mass) as you can get in a "street" M3.

Turner runs stoptech ST-40 trophy's at the front, and stock rear calipers (by rule) on their continental GS car. The front brakes have two cooling ducts each! (I will dig out a photo)

Here's the photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/6185127...57626732368219

(Not giving you a hard time, just getting your thoughts on the differences as I prepare to upgrade myself for next season.)
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      09-30-2011, 04:52 PM   #13
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Absolutely agree with you about wanting to go as big as possbile. I don't know why I thought they were stiffer. I am looking to go 380mm front and 355mm in the rear. I know the Stoptechs will clear my 18" track wheels and the Brembo's in the size will not.
It sounds like we are both in the same boat as far as brakes go. I'd love to get some more input as to why the Trophies are so much better now that I know they are not any stronger.
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      10-01-2011, 12:00 AM   #14
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I would LOVE to hear your AE exhaust on the track. I almost went that way and never have heard it live and known it.

You don't sound new to tracking, but maybe new to HPR? If so, don't fret any over feeling lost at HPR. It's a longish track with lots of deceiving patterns that can get you into trouble quickly. I'm no expert by any stretch, but it took me a couple of days just to really absorb the layout, and I still went 4 off thinking 7 was 11 and suddenly finding 8 taking track away from me. After a dozen days I'm still puzzling best lines on at least 4 turns. I love it!

Brakes-wise the Hawk DTC-70s were recommended to me by the guys at BimmerHaus and they've held up well with no perceptible fade during quite hot runs. They agreed with your assessment re ducting though.

I will be joining PCA for their last event at HPR this season next month. I love running with them, not just because they're very nice people running it (and take racing and quickness very seriously, some great instructors), but also because my car performs so differently than theirs. With their rear balance, they take different lines, but even the cup cars which can pull away on the straights don't seem to have any edge over the M3 in the turns. (They still pass me, but I chalk that up to being better drivers than me.)
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      10-01-2011, 01:04 PM   #15
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Thanks for the comments on HPR. Definitely not new to tracking, but as you figured new to HPR. What an absolute blast. I definitely have a lot to learn and am looking forward to getting back up there. Probably won't be until next year though. My favorite comment to people who ask how I did is to tell them I was able to hang with my buddies GT2........through one turn...... Not that I expected the M3 to hang with cars like that, but man this little car is great for what it is.
I really liked the Ferodo's, but agree a dedicated track pad would be better. I also don't like the digital feel of the stock calipers so I think I'll end up with a BBK before next season. Bob Tunnell is a great guy, as well as everybody up at Bimmerhaus. I live in the Springs, so if you're every down this way let me knower and I'll make sure you heart the Akra exhaust. It's absolutely amazing. My favorite part is the cold start. If I do the ESS tune I'm telling them not to remove it.
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      10-01-2011, 02:51 PM   #16
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I second the comments about HPR, it is a very technical track and takes a while to learn. Also very hard on brakes. Starting out on R-comps, esp with stock brakes, not something I would do. You'd be much better off with a less grippy/more forgiving tire like the AD08 or similar. If you really get the R-comps up to temp and drive hard, you will murder the stock brakes, even with pads and fluid.

If you do go BBK next season, unless you have the cash and don't mind spending the extra, I doubt you will benefit from upgrading to the trophies over standard STs. There are pro drivers on this board with normal the standard Stop Techs and don't have issue with them.

To your question about Sport+, it is only a more sensitive throttle calibration and probably too sensitive for the track IMO (depending on driving style.)

Hope I get a chance to see you out at HPR next year.
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      10-03-2011, 04:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisfast View Post
The brakes get a D-.
After my first track day with the M, besides over-driving the car, I had a hell of a time with the brakes. Lean on them too hard and they would overheat after 4+ laps. Worse, the rear of the car seemed to move around under hard braking, and I just didn't like the overall pedal feel.

I realize a lot of this is technique - and I am trying to learn to set the front end THEN squeeze on the brakes... but nonetheless I just ordered a Stoptech BBK (thanks M-world).
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      10-04-2011, 10:18 AM   #18
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I never felt the back end get lose under hard braking, but everything else you described I can definitely relate to.

Which Stoptechs did you order? Front and Rear? 380mm front and 355 rear? Just trying to get a feel from everybody on their setups. Thanks!
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      10-04-2011, 10:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signes View Post
I second the comments about HPR, it is a very technical track and takes a while to learn. Also very hard on brakes. Starting out on R-comps, esp with stock brakes, not something I would do. You'd be much better off with a less grippy/more forgiving tire like the AD08 or similar. If you really get the R-comps up to temp and drive hard, you will murder the stock brakes, even with pads and fluid.

If you do go BBK next season, unless you have the cash and don't mind spending the extra, I doubt you will benefit from upgrading to the trophies over standard STs. There are pro drivers on this board with normal the standard Stop Techs and don't have issue with them.

To your question about Sport+, it is only a more sensitive throttle calibration and probably too sensitive for the track IMO (depending on driving style.)

Hope I get a chance to see you out at HPR next year.
I'm starting to do a lot more research on the regular ST's based on what you said. The big factors are, can I change the pads just as easily as on the Trophy's? And will they clear the 18" Apex Arc 8's I'm running on the track? I looked at some pictures and they definitely look a lot chunkier, so I'm questioning can they clear my track wheels.
I definitely hope to see you next year at HPR. I'll be the guy who looks like he's lost most of the time. I'd love some pointers. Thanks for the response.
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      10-13-2011, 12:12 PM   #20
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When comparing a Trophy caliper to a standard caliper, stiffness does not change much, as they are based on the same caliper blanks and only additional unneeded material can be removed as determined through FEA analysis and dyno testing. The caliper bolts used the Trophy calipers are of higher tensile strength and use jet nuts on their threaded ends while standard calipers are threaded into the aluminum caliper body which can add to stiffness. Side by side to a good driver there is difference that can be felt through the brake pedal.

The other advantage of the Trophy caliper is that the finish is much, much more durable than the standard finish, which will fade over time from the heat cycles.

Dimensionally the two calipers are about the same. One does not need more wheel clearance than the other.
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      10-13-2011, 05:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrisfast View Post
I never felt the back end get lose under hard braking, but everything else you described I can definitely relate to.

Which Stoptechs did you order? Front and Rear? 380mm front and 355 rear? Just trying to get a feel from everybody on their setups. Thanks!
ST40 front (355) and rear although Richard (from M-world) told me the piston sizes are different F/R to keep the bias correct. Richard really suggested the ST60 6-piston brakes for the front but I wanted to keep my stock 18" wheels, and we didn't feel the ST60 would fit (despite recent thread here).

As said above, I think the Grand Am run the 4-piston in front so I think I should be good for 6-8 DEs / year.
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      10-13-2011, 05:55 PM   #22
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Harold,

Thanks for clearing up the differences between the Trophy's and the standard Stoptechs.

Malakas,

Thanks for letting me know what you have on your car. That's very interesting that the piston sizes are different front to rear on your setup. I would not have thought about the distibution problem.
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