Franciacorta O P L

August 9, 2015

After many years of visiting Franciacorta I finally got the opportunity to drive it. It was a practice evening organised by the Time Attack Italia organiser; 3 hours from 6 till 9. It started out very wet with a downpour passing by as we arrived at the track, but we were lucky that it stopped raining once the action began and with the summer heat by the time the sessions were over there was a good dry line. This meant that the lap times posted shouldn’t be too far off a completely dry track.

I had a few stupid problems during the day though. Once I started really pushing I was moving about in the car a lot due to the stock seat and I was actually knocking the ignition switch with my knee (tall people problems) and turning the car off, even more annoying when I was on a hot lap. This must have happened more than 5 times; very stupid and very annoying. Then towards the end of the day I got the Diff Oil warning light which I presumed was due to the temperature. At first I thought it was an engine oil warning and killed the car immediately and rolled off the track, then went to check my oil and to my surprise it was all still there. The went back into the car to inspect further and facepalmed once I read it correctly.

A 1:27.87 was the best of the day. I will probably be coming back here at the end of September and I hope it will be bone dry.


Being four hours away from Monza now I couldn’t miss their JDM specific Speed Day event, which was held the 1st of Feb. This was to be the last track event before I stowed the Great Danton away for a bit of TLC, and boy is it necessary.

I had a bit of a mishap the coming week in some snow in Bern and kissed a curb with one of my Gram Lights, rendering it not track worthy. So I was forced to run stock wheels and tyres on the back as I couldn’t find replacements in such short notice. I decided to keep the 57C on at the front as I could always do with some extra front grip but at you can imagine it had a huge effect on the balance of the car. As fun as oversteer is, the previous proper set up was so balanced and stable that it was very confidence inducing, which would have been valuable on a high speed track like Monza. Non-the-less it was very enjoyable to wrestle the car through most turns.

The conditions were perfect; fresh and sunny, with a perfectly dry track. Despite the lack of rear grip my fastest lap was a 2:28.08, which I am quite pleased with.

SR20DET @10-12psi
Bridgestone Potenza RE002 245/40/18 Front
Bridgestone Turanza T001 205/50/16 Rear

The reason why I wrote 10 to 12psi is because I was having some issues. I had slight overheating problems forcing me to run a slow lap every 3 or 4 laps, which was probably caused by the clogged rad (which I discovered while removing it) and potentially the turbo elbow gasket problems. 2 of the turbo elbow bolts sheared, which then destroyed the gasket and caused quite a large exhaust leak in the engine bay. This could have increased the engine bay temperatures significantly adding to the cooling problem (as I had zero issues at Cadwell or any track day). This overheating problem was proportional to the over-boosting problem, which I think is due to the manual boost controller being so close the exhaust leak, causing the whole valve to overheat. But this is all speculation.

The car is now in my garage where I’m doing a reasonable overhaul, and the cooling system will be addressed regardless on top of the rear sub-frame restoration, braking system upgrades and turbo repairs I plan to do.

Halloween at Cadwell Park

November 7, 2014

Last Friday (31st October) I tackled the awesome Cadwell Park at a Javelin organised open pit lane track day. After watching a few onboard videos the narrowness of the track and some high speed sections seemed quite daunting, but its probably one of the best tracks I’ve driven on. Technical, full of character and interesting, and the Mountain proved to be as fun as I’d hoped.

My earlier post outlined some of the changes I’d made to the car and its current spec. Performance wise there weren’t any major upgrades, just a few changes.

It was great to be back on track with the Great Danton after so long but it was also a good opportunity to do some benchmarking. Cadwell Park is one of the tracks on the Time Attack UK calendar and this would allow me to see at what performance level both the cars and drivers compete at, as its a championship I would be interested in competing in. I know my car is close to stock in terms of performance, with nearly all the interior and leather trim still in the car, but it would allow to gauge what sort of work would be required to be competitive.

Next to my mates 318 ti.

Onto the highlights:

SR20DET T28 @10psi
Bridgestone Potenza RE002 Adrenalin 245/40/18
Approx. 1265kg wet weight

The fastest lap of the day was a 1:51.95 during my last session. The track was completely dry by that point after a bit of fog and dampness in the early morning.

The car went without a hitch all day, but I did finish the rear pads again like at Donington; down to metal. The rear pads were EBCs again but this time I went for the Red Stuff compound, which I thought would last longer but only did a couple of thousand miles on road and this track day. Not great. Some Ferodo DS2500 would be a better choice, which I have on the front, but they are nearly 3 times more expensive for the rear; the price difference for the front pads is much closer. I had some temperature strips on the front calipers which registered up to 188degC, which is fine for the brake fluid.
Overall I think I need to upgrade the braking system; not only do the bigger tyres offer more grip but they have a slightly bigger diameter thus reducing the brake performance. Future work on the braking department will be bigger discs at the front and to rebuild the front calipers, and get some 2 piston rear calipers (Z32) to balance the braking system.

Had some good battles out there with a TVR Cerbera, 330Ci and a racing Citroen AX. There were a few great cars that I’d hope to run with but we’d go out at different times or be on different ends of the track during a session, and it’s difficult to slow down to let them catch up when you’re having a blast. It’s the same thing when you reckon you should come in and rest the car: why should? I don’t want to stop! And then you end up on track for an hour and you’ve worked up a sweat.

The RE002 tyres performed very well for a sport tyre as they could easily hang with semi-slick draped cars in the corners, though for my next track day it’ll have to try the set of R888s I have. Such GRIP!

Time Attack UK
So I’ve posted a list of lap times around my fastest lap showing where the Great Danton currently sits among them; these times are from this year’s Cadwell round and only a small portion of lap times are shown.

– 1:42.097 – Club RWD – Mazda RX-7 FD3S
– 1:43.802 – Club 4WD – Nissan Skyline GT-R BNR33
– 1:45.093 – Club NA — Honda Civic Type-R FN2
– 1:48.380 – Club FWD – Vauxhall Astra Turbo
– 1:48.810 – Club 4WD – Mitsubishi GTO (600hp)
– 1:50.688 – Club NA — Ford Fiesta ST
– 1:50.706 – Club FWD – Vauxhall Astra
– 1:51.95 – Great Danton
– 1:53.213 – Club FWD – Alfa Romeo 155 V6
– 1:53.820 – Club NA — Peugeot 205

Overall I’m very pleased with how the car compares with the current crop of Time Attack machines. If I remove and/or replace the leather interior, tune to 270hp and slap some semi slick tyres on I think I could shave the 10 seconds needed to compete in the Club RWD class, given that a couple of seconds could have been saved by improving my lines and pushing a bit harder on the braking points.


November 4, 2014

Was at Cadwell Park for an open pit lane session last Friday but before I get into that I thought I’d give an update on the Great Danton and its current condition.

So since the last track day at Donington a few cosmetic, performance and service items have been changed.

Cosmetically the front wings have been cut and painted to match. I’ve been questioned a lot about it but I love the look. Eventually some composite covers will be added to make it less spartan.
At the rear the standard bumper has been modified into a JDM spec one and fitted with a central square LED fog light. A full write up will be coming on how to approach this. It transforms the rear of the car!

New rear discs, rear and front pads where fitted; EBC Ultimax, EBC Red Stuff and Ferodo DS2500 respectively. The braking system was freshened up with some Halfords Racing DOT 4 brake fluid.
The worn Pirelli P Zero Rosso didn’t last very long so a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE002 Adrenalin have be fitted in the same 245/40/18 size. They qualify as a street MSA 1a list tyre.
A 3″ aftermarket exhaust and an Apexi Power Filter have been added on the respiratory department. The spooling time is reduced and max boost is now held all the way to the redline. On the standard exhaust the pressure drooped by a couple of psi by the time is came to max rpm. I actually wasn’t expecting these mods to make such a noticeable difference.

On the interior as well as the Personal Neo Grinta there is also a D1-Spec quick release, which brings the steering wheel closer by 70mm (with a 10mm spacer), greatly improving driving position and helping with heel-and-toe. An Apex Perfomance short shifter has got rid of the sloppy, loose original gear shifter.

Bike vs. Car

August 30, 2014

A couple of friends and I have now begun our own bike vs. car battle. Donington is the first track that we’ve now all run on, and I’m sorry to say the car is loosing.

I went to catch up with them at their track day and take some pics; Archie in his menacing Aprilia Tuono did an awesome 1:55 on the full GP Circuit. We caught up later on and compared GoPro videos side by side; we’re neck and neck until the start of the back straight, then he leaves me standing on the straight and Melbourne loop with the increased power to weight.

Mike did a respectful 2:09 in his Daytona 675, so with a 2:06 I’m right between them.

Cadwell is coming soon.

On the 8th of May I headed down to Donington for a 3 hour open pit lane session. Since the last track day at Donington in December a few changes have been done to the car; suspension and wheels.

Replaced the standard shocks with HSD Dualtechs, which come with 8 and 6kg/mm front and rear respectively. I also have Driftworks adjustable rear camber and toe links, but I have yet to fit them.

I also swapped the standard wheels for some RAYS Gram Lights 57C in 18″ x 8.5″ ET30 all round. The perfect width for running wider tyres while not over-killing when still running stockish power. I fitted 10mm hubcentric spacers at the front with longer studs to clear the dampers, a common problem even on standard wheels due to the larger diameter damper/spring.
The tyres mounted for the track day were well worn Pirelli PZero Rosso in 245/40. With the lack of tread I struggled a bit early on with a damp track but as soon as it dried up they performed well.

25mm fibreglass fenders give clearance to the tyres in the all suspension and steering travel.

Before heading to the track day I corner weighed the car again to see how things had shifted after the modifications. After having problems with the Micra battery during the cold winter I fitted the original in the boot on the passenger’s side. I also removed the rear seats.

FL 332.0 FR 350.5
RL 311.0 RR 283.0

Total: 1276.5 kg (wet weight – full fuel tank)

Before: 1264.5 kg with 3/4 tank. So with the increase in wheel and tyre mass, larger battery, fibreglass wings and no rear seats the weight has remained pretty much the same when you take into account the different fuel loads.

With the repositioning of masses in the car the weight distribution has shifted from 55.6/44.4 f/r to 53.5/46.5, although again with different fuel loads its hard to compare.

Camber was measured at around 3.25deg and 2.75deg front and rear. A little much in the damp due to the reduced roll when cornering but felt much better in the dry.

The open pit lane was great to experience as it gave you the opportunity to run for extended periods of time (a few red flags did occur though) with my longest session being over 50 minutes non-stop. This was also after the track had dried up and the brakes showed no sign of fading and the temperatures were perfect. The rear pads were finished by the end though, lasting only 4800 miles; EBC Green Stuff.

Fastest lap of the day was 2:06.69. The added Melbourne loop of the GP circuit was great to run as the chicane and 2 hairpins are awesome. The event went on until 8:30pm and it was great to finish off the day under setting sun.

Thunder in the Park

December 30, 2013

Had my first track day in the 200SX a couple of weeks ago at Donington Park circuit. The track day was held on the National track configuration, which is generally used in BTCC and small cc formula series.

In preparation for the track day I replaced the front brake discs and pads, and brake fluid. A must for the track day as the previous set up would fade within 5 minutes of spirited driving.

Went for Ferodo’s proven DS2500 pads and Nitrac grooved discs. Brake fluid is Castrol Performance DOT 4.

Other modifications that I’ve carried out but haven’t mentioned previously are an ebay special FMIC and an Apex Performance Manual Boost Controller running at 10psi. Power must be slightly improved as it tops out at 152mph over the standard 142mph.

The tyres for the day were recently fitted Bridgestone Turanza T001; an economic tyre I had fitted before I got a second car for commuting.

The track day consisted of six 20 minute sessions throughout the day. Only the novice group had free spaces available at the time so traffic did become an issue in some of the sessions, as you could only overtake on the left hand side. Despite the nice weather the track was still damp in the morning sessions but it dried up by lunchtime. The car was incredibly easy to drive, very balanced with only a hint of understeer. The brakes also showed no signs of fade, although the sessions were relatively short.

The GoPro ran out of juice for the last sessions so I could not measure the lap times, but the fastest lap measured was in the 5th session and was a 1:34.40.

Power: ≈200 hp (FMIC, MBC, de-cat)
Weight: 1264.5 kg (Wet, ¾ tank, no weight reduction)
Tyres: Bridgestone Turanza T001 205/55/R16
Brakes: F – Ferodo DS2500, R – EBC Green Stuff
Suspension: Stock

Thanks to Matthew Griffiths for the photos and GoPro loan.