Dijon Prenois & Magny Cours
Two days at the fast flowing Dijon and one day at the large french F1 track, Magny Cours. Great weather, open pitlane driving and very very few people actually on track at all. One slight problem though, the car was playing up.
The Blink motorsport guys on hand did a great job of looking at various things and adjusting the throttle pot to ease things a little but the car was never right at all. Although much of Dijon is a flowing momentum thing, the back straight always posed a problem and the car never really saw the right side of 115mph cos it was jerking and misfiring so much (130mph+ should be possible). After say 5 laps it was almost intolerable and I'd have to come in.
All was not lost though at Dijon. The car ran reasonably ok from turn 1 to the uphill stretch of the very last bend and could be hustled round there fairly quickly at eh beginning of a session. I just had to resign myself to say 80% performance and some very serious restraint on the main straight. Apart from the double apex Georgelles which has an awkward entry and not a very satisfying exit, all the bends there were just fantastic.
Villeroy, turn 1, is a real power bend and huge speed can be carried through it and accerelation through it can be as brutal as you like. This then flows onto the fast S of Sablieres then its heavy braking for the sharp steep downhill lefthander Bretelle. A quick burst of 3rd and 4th then you brake hard again for the very steep uphill Parabolique which is just so satisfying with a lovely fast entry and an obligatory wagging tail on the way out as you squeeze the power. Then comes Georgelles as above, then the awesome downhill right hand sweeper Combe (reminded me of Paddock) which is great to turn into and fast feeling if you suss out how to tuck the car in quick. Finally the never ending down then uphill Pouas is a real test of nerve as the run off there makes say Coram seem generous and its quite demanding on car setup exposing any understeer tendencies quite ruthlessley.
The gradients here at Dijon have to be experienced to be believed.... its like the height variation of say Spa but all condensed over a much smaller space so it appears all the more extreme. The only thing Dijon lacks IMO is a real high speed 100mph+ turn in corner ; an oulton island or a Riches there would be the icing on the cake along with just a little more length to give it more of an epic feel. Overall it just feels a little bit continuous with just one long section of bends then a long straight.
Shame about the misfire because the rest of the car is just so spot on now. Grip levels are astonishing, the car is pretty well balanced and very very readable and communicative. Oversteer is there under power on exit but turn-in is sharp, resolute and devoid of understeer in all but the very fastest curves. Indeed, through many of the Dijon bends there was still a fair bit more left in the car and to be frank, because of being preoccupied and trying to fix the problems I never really got into the science of lines and trying to improve my speed and technique. Sabilieres should have been completely flat, my line for Villeroy was wrong, the double apexer needs some work and the two last bends could be a fair bit faster. The car at Dijon felt better than it ever did and the move to the race springs really is showing its benefit even on the standard Bilsteins. Elsewhere on the car temperatures were behaving themselves as always, with 80-85 being a high for both oil and water even in the baking hot sun.
As it stands, we've swapped out HT leads, coil pack, most of the sensors, checked the alternator, changed the injectors and fuel filter, swapped out the ecu and monitored the fuel pressure and any vacuum in the fuel tank. There isn't much left to investigate but the crank sensor could be the next possible culprit and as I write the ECU is off being looked at.
Come Magny the engine seemed to be running worse and as it was raining in the morning I decided to stick my knackered old set of CR500's on and just horse around all day. Theres a fair bit of stopping and starting at the F1 track so it was always going to show up the misfire much worse ... I never even bothered trying to go quickly and even the few times I attempted full throttle acceleration the car just wouldn't play ball. No, the only way at Magny was to have fun sliding about a bit, keep the acceleration light and the speeds low and the car very very cool. Still, I was very impressed with the track. From videos ive seen before and from F1 coverage I wasn't expecting to like it but parts of it are just stunning. Turn 1 is amazing and Estoril after it is just one of the most gorgeous bends i've ever driven. Its never-ending, the car just sits in it so sweetly and entry is glorious. The nurburgring chicane is great and braking for the sharp 180 is awesome. I'll definitely have to come back here when the car is on back on song; 2 days at Magny and 1 day at Dijon would perhaps be an even better recipe next year.
Some rear views, a true wishbone lap with the camera moving relative to the upright and some new diagonal side views which i rather like. For details on my codecs, required software and filming equipment used click here.