This past weekend I went out to Calder Park for a practise day. First time driving the track so it was sketchy to begin with but eventually got some good lines and overall awesome runs!
I left work early friday afternoon to load up the car and all my tools so everything was prepped for the 5:30am drive out to the track.
By about 5pm friday afternoon everything was good to go for saturday.
I was watching videos all night of other people driving so I could get an idea of the layout. It helped a bit, but I still wasn’t very confident on going hard in the first few sessions. It was also meant to rain all day so that didn’t really help.
Set a few alarms so I didn’t sleep in.
It was 6 degrees when I woke up so had to throw on a few jumpers and a beanie so my head didn’t freeze. Then jumped in the Stagea and made my way out.
After waiting around for ages to get let into the pits, I had the car unloaded and ready for the first session out on track. Parked up next to a friend’s car who had only just finished building it!
Luckily it hadn’t rained for a few hours so the track was starting to look a little more dry. Still super wet, but not as bad as what it could have been.
I got the car scrutineered after the driver’s briefing, checked my tyres and everything mechanical, then grabbed the helmet and headed out!
Pretty nervous about the walls that surrounded the whole track so I drove like a baby for the first few laps, but started to get a few clean lines happening towards the end.
My second session was AWESOME! All the nerves went away and the good driving decided to come out and play.
After a few laps my tyres were right down to the belts so had to end it early.
I had much more confidence driving after going around a few times. After it dried up a bit I wasn’t too worried about the walls. Although even in the dry, Calder is insanely slippery. There are little dips on a few corners that hold water and stay wet for hours and in return make it very unpredictable.
I also had a couple problems in the engine bay with the dipstick and the turbo return line.
The dipstick was popping out under load and after talking to a few friends, a couple suggested it was crankcase pressure getting too high because it wasn’t breathing properly. It happened once at last matsuri but I didn’t think too much of it. A couple things I think I will do is change my catch can line setup, run a bigger breather on the catch can and maybe run a spring on the dipstick to eliminate the problem.
The other problem was the oil return line, which I thought I had fixed after replacing the turbo but obviously not. There is a 30º fitting at the bottom of the line where it angles toward the sump. I have a feeling that the thread on that fitting is either cracked or just worn because it’s slowly dribbling out from it.
I went to grab a drink, came back and saw lots of dudes around my car. People must think it’s Nigel’s car from Engineered to Slide or something.
I cleaned up the bay and checked a few things then went back out for another run. I took it a bit easier over the next couple sessions in case something decided to go wrong, still had plenty of power to shred though!
Cabin had almost no smoke going around the bank because I had the windows open. Better than being engulfed in white crap and driving blind.
After lunch time it started to rain really heavily and from what I’ve heard from some friends it was actually hailing at one point! I didn’t notice any hail but the rain was getting pretty insane so I set up my gazebo anyway. Decided to bring it along just in case it was raining and I needed to fix anything.
And in typical Melbourne style, 10 minutes after I put it up, it was bright and sunny again.
Next session was only a few minutes long unfortunately. I came around the bank and just before the exit the car had a bit of a jump and then started making strange noises on the passenger rear side. I thought originally I had destroyed a driveshaft. Luckily the driveshaft was fine, it was just the tyre that had popped off the bead causing it to hit the guards.
I took it off quickly and got it back on but by the time the car was ready to go my session was over. So it was a 40 minute wait until my next session.
One thing I really want to get done is a new painted passenger door. For anyone that hasn’t noticed, (you must be blind!) my passenger door has a rather large dent in the centre of it. It happened in 2010 when I hit a water barrier after going too deep into a corner at Eastern Creek back in Sydney. It was one of my first runs on the main track and I thought I had the right line for it, turned out I had way too much speed which resulted in the door getting hammered and also demolishing the side skirt. I’ve never bothered to fix it because I thought the mechanical side was more important, but now that the car is almost 100% reliable, I think I’ll be getting it done sometime this year. All I need is a new door so I can get it painted!
Anyway back to more drifting. Late afternoon session started just after 3. Fresh tyres and some sunshine was perfect.
Later in the day I was trying to link a whole bunch of corners together while using every bit of track. The first part of Calder is 90% slippery and only 10% grip. The first two corners can be done so easily without any throttle input. Whereas the next pair of corners need a bit of power to get a proper exit.
After a couple of chicanes is the big bank with a massive bump on the exit. Entering the bank was a bit scary seeing how I know a whole bunch of people that have destroyed cars by making a tiny mistake. Almost all day I was entering the corner like a baby because I don’t want to smash my car. It wasn’t like I was entering in 1st gear, I just wasn’t doing anything huge with heaps of speed.
Still had some pretty fun times driving through it.
I did one more session and took a friend out for a drive in the wet after a bit of rain. The track decided to get super slippery at some points and almost went way off a few times but luckily came out in one piece. The car wasn’t very clean by the end of it, but it wasn’t smashed which is what I was worried about the day before.
I thought the last session was enough fun for the day so loaded everything up and got it all ready to go home.
Pretty epic first day at Calder Park! Loved driving a new track and I think I will definitely go back for some more driving this year. They are having a drift matsuri there in November which I would love to go to but it will depend on how I am going for money. I wouldn’t mind going back for another practise day sometime this year but I really want to get moving on the S13 and get lots done, which costs $$ unfortunately!
Other than the dipstick problem and return line problem, it was going like a machine all day!