Our 2017 season ended a few weeks ago, culminating with the East Coast Championships at Sebring. Although I’m heading to Summit Point this weekend to help run the NASA Mid-Atlantic “Fall Finale,” there’s no wheel-to-wheel racing as part of the event and thus, the M3 is staying at home.
Though we are barely into the off-season, it’s never too early to start evaluating how 2017 went, and make a plan for both myself and the car that can be addressed this winter.
The GTS ruleset has been updated for 2018, and GTS2 is not affected by the changes. So, whatever decisions I make will be due to personal choice, not changing rules. Easy.
Changes to the Car
My suspension is tired, having been subjected to nearly five years of time trial and race abuse. I’m exploring “upgrade” options that will provide better response compared to my current Ground Control setup, without breaking the bank like a $6k set of MCS two-ways would.
I’d like to pull the power down a hair, allowing me to run the car at a lighter overall weight. This will help negate the need for so much ballast in the trunk.
Once the new suspension is installed and power dialed back in, the car should be re-aligned and corner balanced. No sense doing that until I have re-dyno’d the car and have a target weight from the GTS calculator.
Beyond those couple of changes, I need to make some decisions on brake and tire choices. Do I switch back to Hawk brake pads, and if so, which compound? Do I keep running the long-lasting, pretty-quick BF Goodrich R1, or upgrade to the faster, more expensive Hoosier R7?
A Cool Shirt setup (or generic equivalent) is a must-have for next year. We face enough heat throughout the season that a setup like this will help greatly with both fatigue and focus. The generic medical coolers are not super expensive and work just as well as the branded cooler.
Changes to the Driver
I learned so much in the move to wheel-to-wheel this year. Two of my friends and competitors showed me how to look at AiM data, and were willing to share their (faster) data to compare against, which has been huge. I’m more aware of where I can pick up speed, and how. Some coaching in early 2018 would undoubtedly pay dividends, and as event schedules are released, I’ll be looking for additional events to attend that can be used for coaching, not competition.
I’d also like to find a “wet skidpad” sort of event. My confidence in the rain is fairly low, and that contributed to my downfall at the championships this year. One competitor attended a “learn to drift” day with her street car and learned a great deal about car control. The event relied on a wet skidpad environment to ensure lower speeds and a minimum of tire wear.
This is the first off-season where the car is not in need of some major work to “finish the build” or seriously prepare for the upcoming year. I am excited to use the upcoming months to tweak my setup as part of an even stronger 2018.