Trackday 2006

Sunday was the 2006 Saab trackday at Croft in North Yorkshire.

It’s a long drive up there on Saturday, especially if you have already driven to Oxford and back that morning, but the traffic was fine and it was quite a nice route and the car managed a healthy 36mpg.

I had switched to my backup set of wheels with Bridgestone S03 tyres on but not much tread ready for a sunny Sunday.

When I arrived at Croft the car park was quite busy, but I met a few familiar faces, signed in, and we had a fairly entertaining drivers briefing.

I was in the 2nd of 3 groups, so before we went out we were able to watch the first group with the speedier drivers. There were a few funny looking Saabs such as the ones below.

Both these cars were quick, but I think the latter was the fastest on the day – might be some type of new Saab Sonnet.

The first sessions was fine, a few parade laps behind the instructor’s mini, although I don’t think there was a whole lot of point as only 2 of us kept up with him. When he pulled off I spent the rest of the session following a heavily modified 9-5 that didn’t use his rear mirrors at all… Shame they left blue flags out of the briefing.

The course had some really interesting bend combinations, not as fast as Goodwood, but perhaps more challenging to find the right lines.

In the 2nd session I pushed a little harder, but spent a few laps behind a Classic 900, again with no rear-view mirrors. I had to wait until a more forceful car pushed through to be able to overtake coming into a bend… Later in the day there guys seemed to be checking behind them a little more.

The 2nd session was marred by a couple of problems.

Firstly the brakes started to lose effectiveness. I couldn’t brake hard enough to lock the wheels or activate the ABS, and as it got worse I ended up carrying too much speed into a few corners so had to back off. The EBC Redstuff pads don’t seem to have wrecked my disks like the Ferodo DS2500 managed, but the Ferodo’s never faded. Then again I have more power and grip compared to previous years so that doesn’t help.

Later in the session there was a lot of rumbling from the front wheels. I dropped my speed and crawled back to the pits. On inspection, the nuts on both front wheels were finger-tight. I had carefully torqued these to the correct settings on Friday. Following this I checked them before every session and they were fine.

My fuel consumption at this point was 9.4 mpg, beating the 10 I managed at Goodwood.

For the 3rd session I had an instructor out with me, and he gace me some useful advice on having a smoother turn-in to corners, pointed out the very late turn-in and apex for the hairpin, and a few other pointers on my line. Sadly this session was cut short but a broken car.

Wandering around at lunchtime there were some interesting vehicles such as this Polo

And another shot of my Aero resting between sessions.

Sessions 4 and 5 were both good, I slowed the pace slightly to help the brakes, but still seemed to be lapping reasonably fast, with only the agressivly driven silver 9-5 and enthisastically driven stickered blue 9-5 passing me while I had many enjoyable overtakes on others who by now were making good use of mirrors.

At the end of the day my tyres were a little worn as shown in the picture of one of my rear tyres below:

I missed session 6 to change my wheels back to the road set and was thankful for the large boot of the 9000.

The drive back was fine, nice not having damaged brakes like before, even if they did fade.

Overall it was a great trackday, and many thanks to Fliptop, Andrew and the other organisers.

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