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      10-03-2011, 07:18 PM   #1

Drives: 2011 E92 Alpine White ZCP
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Sammamish, WA

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Merits of a newbie HPDE driver investing in suspension now

I have a 2011 E92 with ZCP and DCT.

I've done a lot of track work on motorcycles (superbikes), taken the Keith Code school, and recently completed the Car Control Clinic (at Pacific Raceways near Seattle about 6 weeks ago). Clearly four wheels are different than two, but I am making the point that I have substantial track time and am not just a typical street driver.

Of course, I am hooked after the CCC, and thought it was fantastic. I have not done the HPDE yet but plan on doing a number of events next year.

My car is stock with the exception of a Dinan ECU flash and cat-back exhaust.

I am convinced that I will do suspension upgrades and brakework at some point. Dinan is running a 15% off special now, so my question is this:

Does it make sense to invest in the Dinan Stage 3 kit now that it's on sale in order to start moving the car towards a more neutral handling characteristic (pushes now of course), given that I am still low, low, low on the 4-wheel driving learning curve?

I am pretty sure even with the Dinan swaybar and springs and camber plates that the car will still modestly push.

The alternative is I learn to drive the car stock, and then start making adjustments.

I am mostly keen on not making it more difficult for me to learn by lowering the margin of error for driving mistakes I am sure to make.

Thoughts appreciated.

Sammamish, WA
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      10-03-2011, 07:43 PM   #2

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Ultimately the choice is yours, however, I would suggest that you leave the car stock for now. Some people complain that the car understeers in stock form, but as someone who used to believe that, I found that it's really dependent on how you drive the corners. If you slow your corner entry just a bit you'll find that the car is pretty neutral and really for me the last few track events I've has more issues toward the end of sessions with mild oversteer (I've done a bit over 2,000 track miles in this car). I've also ridden in the M3 with a professional race driver and firstly the capabilities of the vehicle in stock form with the PS2s is mind blowing (at 10/10ths) and understeer is not an issue at all. Could it be faster with modifications? Yes. Could it be flatter and give better feel with suspension mods? Yes.

The pressure to mod is strong. I've had friends who thought modifying their street bikes would make them a better rider. It didn't. That modifying their cars would make them a better driver. It didn't. They were quicker because their rides were more capable, but it still doesn't cover for lack of experience. In the end it's still your choice, but I think it would be best to wait on the mods until you have a bit more experience.

PS- greetings from a former Bellevue resident (Sherwood Forest Elementary, Highland Junior High, Interlake High School)
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      10-03-2011, 08:30 PM   #3

Drives: E92 M3
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I have about 10 years of track experience in several cars, including ZO6, GT3, and an E46 M3. My E92 ZCP M3 is totally stock except for StopTech brakes and, on track I use 275/35-18 tires all around. Obviously, there are many variables in play when you discuss handling balance. IMO, this car simply does not understeer to any problematic degree. In fact, I have no interest in changing the balance at all. Obviously, I'm no pro, and some folks are much more comfortable with a loose condition than am I. But I'm convinced, at least for me, mild understeer is my quickest setup.
2011 Space Gray Coupe, DCT, ZCP, StopTech ST-60/ST-40 BBK.
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      10-03-2011, 09:28 PM   #4
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Get brake pads at least. Next maybe tires, depending upon what you have now. But maybe the rest should wait until you actually track the car a few weekends and let it tell you what mods might be needed?

I'll tell you what I've done this first tracking year:
  • I got Yokohama Advan AD08 tires, 255/275, because the Contis I had were like driving on circular ham.
  • I got Hawk DTC-70 pads and Motul 600 because I wanted brakes that would hold through the heat, wear well, and not thrash my rotors.
  • I got the M Performance Exhaust because I love the sound, and actually it has enabled me to actually hear the car while on the track with stock exhaust I couldn't hear the car over the other cars out there.
  • And I got Ground Control camber plates because stock camber was adding up to some awfully rapid burning through tires it was an investment to save on tire expense.

That is almost it. More will wait. This is enough for what I'm doing. If I move from HPDE to TT or racing, it will be in a different car.

Does it make sense to invest in the Dinan Stage 3 kit now that it's on sale in order to start moving the car towards a more neutral handling characteristic (pushes now of course), given that I am still low, low, low on the 4-wheel driving learning curve?
I can't speak to the kit, but the car is pretty neutral as it is now. As I understand it, the understeer you get with stock comes from alignment settings and the staggered wheel setup. I learned to love it.

When I bought from dnvrdrvr a set of slicks on square 275/18s, I realized on the first lap that, with the square setup, racing slicks and camber plates, I now had a completely different car. The understeer was gone, and much more of a feel of oversteer, which has now made me more tentative while I get used to it.

I could have gone straight to the Hoosier crack, but I'm so glad I started totally stock because now I have a much better understanding of what the car brings, and what the various changes bring.

2013 E92 ///M3 ZCP 6MT Speed Yellow 2003 E39 ///M5
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      10-03-2011, 10:13 PM   #5

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I'd keep the car stock except 18" track wheels (like apex) and brake pad.

Next year, also do CCC with PCA (they call it driver skills). They do it at Bremerton Motorsports Park, which is an old air strip. Much better than BMWCCA event. The last 2 events of this year are Oct 15th and Oct 30th.
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previous cars: E92 M3, Z4MC, Z4 Roadster, E36 328 Sedan
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      10-03-2011, 10:45 PM   #6
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If I had it to do all over again I would have started with brakes and done a full coilover instead of the dinan, but it is a great compromise setup (the dinan) and the car is just begging to go faster and feel limited with the dinan at the track, mostly because of the camber plates which are fixed vs. adjustable. That being said, I love the way the car feels now and am really feeling at one with the car. Either way you'll be happy... it's the car that counts
mods: akra evo, dinan 3.45 diff, ess akra tune, dinan stg.3, Alcon bbk, HRE P40
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      10-03-2011, 11:16 PM   #7
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Since you're starting out, keep it stock for now. Even the pads are fine if you brake a little early. Or consider some Ferrado 2500 or Stoptech pads for the street and track, but the stock pad is covered so why not use up a set on BMW?
Let me get this straight... You are swapping out parts designed by some of the top engineers in the world because some guys sponsored by a company told you it's "better??" But when you ask the same guy about tracking, "oh no, I have a kid now" or "I just detailed my car." or "i just got new tires."
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      10-04-2011, 06:04 AM   #8
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Be scientific about it. Start stock, establish your baseline and then mod up to your needs. You might want to tweak the brakes first, or you might want to tweak the suspension.

In three seasons of tracking (in New England, we have track seasons, and this one is coming to an end !) This is how I have changed stuff for the track. I also have a Sprint booster, but now turn that off at the track.

Season 1: stock
Season 2: SS brakelines, race pads, ATE brake fluid, eibach springs, 4 x 265/35/18 Nitto NT-05s on D-Force LTW 18 x 9.5 rims
Season 3: 4 x 18/275/35 Nitto NT-05s on Apex ARC 18x10 rims

Next year: Stoptech ST-40 at the front, Castrol SRF, brake ducts maybe
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      10-04-2011, 06:52 AM   #9

Drives: 2011 E92 Alpine White ZCP
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Sammamish, WA

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This is great feedback, guys. Thanks a million.

I going to hang tight with the car as-is until I get some track mileage under my belt.

Probably change the brake fluid before the first HPDE.

Im a member of PCA and mu car is tech'd so thanks for the heads up on the PCA education option.

I will check it out.

I hear you on the hams comment with regards to the Contis. I have 'em in the car now and don't like them at all. I miss my PS2s from the last car.

Thanks again gents.

Jason - Sammamish, WA
2011.5 E92 - Alpine White DCT ZCP
Dinan: Exhaust, Intake, ECU, UD Pulley, Pedals; AFE: Air Scoops;

2008 Ducati 1098s
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