With the success of Round 5 of the MSV Trackday Championship a distant memory, and us ineligible to enter Round 6 as it requires an MSA National A licence (we are still a couple away from the 6 signatures to upgrade our B to an A), we decided to enter the Rockingham round of the MSV Trackday Trophy instead.
The rules are pretty much the same as the TDC, so our Ibiza was in Class B again. The main difference are the allowed Tyres. The TDC requires everyone to be on the same Toyo R888R GG Compound Tyres, whereas in the TDT, the tyres can be from the MSA list 1a, 1b or 1c. Slick tyres and motorsport wets are not permitted. This opens up a massive list of potential tyres to use. After talking to a few people who race in both championships, we decided on the Dunlop Direzza DZ03, which were supplied through Steve at HP Tyres.
To add to the complication, we were also running a new suspension setup. We removed the BC Coilovers with Eibach Springs we have run for the past few years, and send them off to John at BlackArt Designs for modifying to suit our ride height, weight, tyre size and setup.
Throughout the report, we will be describing the track by corner names. This image should help
First test session was with the Dunlop Direzza DZ03 215/45/R17 Tyres and the suspension setup as per John's recommendation.
We didn't know where the car would be in terms of lap times, so we had a look at the previous 2 years Qualifying and Race results to get an idea of where others in our class were.
Assuming that everyone will improve their cars (and driving!) from last year, we set a target of 1:35.9 or quicker for the day.
I was immediately obvious that the Dunlops were quite a bit stiffer than the Toyo, and a combination of the tyres and suspension meant the tyres warmed up within a few corners. I took it easy for the first few laps, getting an idea of how far I could push, mainly into the first 2 corners (Turn 1 on the Oval and the Deene Hairpin). Lap 3 I had some clear air in front of me, so decided to go for it and see what the car was made of. It did not disappoint, with a 1:35.99 flashing up on the VBOX OLED screen as I crossed the line, I knew there was a lot of improvement in that lap.
Came in for a quick pit stop and check round, we were seeing extremely high temperatures on the front right tyre, with pressures also coming up way more than we expected. Pressures were dropped and I went back out for another go. I went straight back into some space and put in a 1:35.24, this was the fastest lap of the day, but with much to be improved in all sectors, especially in and out of Tarzan and Brook.
Into Session 2, we made a few minor adjustments to Camber and went back out. The first 2 full laps had traffic, then with some track to myself, I knocked out a 1:35.55, 1:35.94 and 1:35.37 in a row. Lap 6 of this session felt pretty bad in the last few turns, so I came in for another check.
Temperatures had gone crazy on the front right, well over 100°C, resulting it in delaminating after the 2nd 25 minute stint.
This posed a problem, we only had 1 full set of these Dunlops, so had to go back to the Toyo R888R for the rest of the day.
While changing the front wheels, we felt a little play in the Nearside track rod arm at the steering rack end, so we started to change that, with only 5 minutes left to go until the 3rd session! Problem was, we had standard arms on the van, and the car has shorter arms that are threaded further down the shaft for more toe adjustment. We had the grinder to cut the arms, but the tap and die set we had was missing the M14x1.5 required. This meant running the car with 4mm of Toe In. Not ideal! I still managed a 1:36.69 and got some decent data about the temps of the tyres, while the guys went on the hunt for someone with a tap and die set!
Fourth session was plagued with Red Flags and much busier (since quite a few people turned up just for the afternoon sessions), but with a few clear laps, I managed to do a 1:35.40 towards the end of the session, after doing 5 mid to low 1:36s. This was the second fastest lap of the day, but with much to be improved in all sectors, and only 0.16s slower than the Dunlops, that from comparing the times between the same cars running in the TDC and TDT look to be almost 1 second a lap quicker here.
The 5th session was again shortened due to red flags (this time a Mini ended up on its side - the driver was unhurt!), and the best time was 1:36.10, again with much to be improved in all sectors looking at the data. We had softened the front suspension a little in this session to try and keep the temperatures down and it seemed to have worked.
Overall, while the lap times seemed to be positive, we did not get as much information as we would have liked about the new suspension setup, as well as being gutted that the Dunlop Tyres do not agree with the combination of the the Ibiza and a very abrasive Rockingham. The main area we seem to be losing time is Pif Paf and Gracelands, so we need to find the sweet spot to pull back some time there whilst ensuring we can go the full race distance without destroying the tyres. Fingers crossed for Sunday!