Porsches were designed and built to go fast. More than that, Porsches have a racing pedigree and so, not racing your Porsche could be considered a crime. Once you've taken ownership of a Porsche you are constantly reminded that it wants to be driven fast, so here are a few tips to help you race your Porsche.
It's tempting to go fast on the public roads, but it's illegal and dangerous. The world is littered with high quality purpose built race tracks, so find your nearest one. Racing is a lot more fun on track, and safer too!
If you've not driven on a race track before it's well worth considering treating yourself and your Porsche to professional driver training. Contact your local track and find out when the next "Driver's Education" event will be held for the public. You might also consider contacting your local Porsche club and find out if they are organising track day sessions. It's nice to participate in track events with others who have similar cars. Track days will start with a driver's briefing session. Make sure you listen to the advice. They know what they are talking about.
On track your Porsche, and you, will be subjected many forces that just aren't present on normal driving conditions, so safety is a must. On the day of your first track event, check all of the key areas of your Porsche, oil tyre pressures, tyre tread, steering fluid, brake fluid and brakes. If you are not experienced in doing a safety check on your car, take it to a mechanic and ask for a pre trackday safety check. It doesn't end there though. In between your track sessions continue to check brakes, tyre pressures and generally around and under the car.
Every track has rules. Make sure you know them and abide by them on the day. The driver's briefing will go through them before you go on track. These rules will include permitted noise levels from your Porsche at certain RPM's, essential safety equipment like a crash helmet, overtaking on a particular side and what to do when a track marshal waves a coloured flag. On the issue of noise levels, a track official will measure the noise with a db meter on the day. Noise levels vary between tracks and will be dependent on local authorities, but might around the 100db level.
Don't be in a hurry to perform like Sterling Moss or Fangio. Take your time to get to grips with the track and how your Porsche feels. Once on the track, go around a few times at a normal rate of speed in order to get used to it without the stresses of high speeds. Most track days start off with a sighting lap, where a track driver will lead you round in procession to show the ideal driving lines, as well as to help you control your adrenaline.
Once you and your Porsche are out on track at speed, why not take advantage of other more experienced track drivers. Follow them around for a few laps to get the feel of circuit and the optimum driving line, turn in points and braking points are. Every turn should be approached being mindful of both entry & exit and and understanding of apexes. The optimal apex point is the point at the centre of the turn which will produce the fastest exit speed. For the ideal corner, you should try to maintain as shallow an arc as possible from your entry, or turn-in point, to the exit point. Aggressive turns bleed off speed. Smooth turns that maximise use of the track provide the fastest route through the turn. Screeching tyres sound great and a drifiting Porsche looks awesome. However they are not good for speed, nor is it a cheap way to drive. Tyres are expensive afterall!
Braking is not a simple matter of slamming on the brakes. Push too hard and you risk locking the wheels and going into a skid and losing control of your Porsche. Driving on the roads means you're probably used to braking slowly and gently bringing your Porsche down to the speed you're looking for. On a track however, braking should be done all at once and at the last possible moment. The whole point of braking on track is to slow your Porsche to the speed necessary to successfully negotiate a turn as well as settle the car at turn-in or when used in combination with steering and acceleration can cause the car to begin to rotate in order to carry more speed into a corner.
Nobody wants to be overtaken. Unfortunately on track it's inevitable. There's always someone faster than you. Each track will have it's own set of rules for 'passing'. Make sure you pay attention at the driver briefing so you know the correct procedure for your track. At many tracks overtaking is done on the left and always on the straights. If you know you're not going fast enough, indicate to let the approaching driver pass by using your turn signals. You may get a blue flag by one of the track marshals to indicate to you to let a faster driver pass you by.
While most tracks attach the same meaning to each flag, there is some local variation. Use this paragraph as a guide but be sure to check with the event organizer. The following will usually apply:
The last lap of your session is often called the "cool-down" lap. This is because you're gently winding your Porsche down from the extreme stresses and temperatures of aggressive track driving. Its preferable to let the car come down slowly. You also have been driving your body hard both physically and mentally and it's a good practice to get your heart rate stress levels down as you cruise round on your last lap before heading to the pit lane. When you exit your Porsche after an aggressive session on track, you can feel the energy pumping through your body. It's a great feeling.
As a general rule of thumb, you should position yourself and seat such that with your arms stretched straight and the back of your wrist on the wheel, your wrist should stay in the same contact position as you move it around the circumference of the wheel from the 9 am to the 3 pm positions. Adjust your seat to suit. When you are driving your Porsche, position your hands at opposite positions at 9am and 3pm. This will give you the best response time and best posture at high speeds.
Keep a window open. It will get hot when on track. Your engine is working hard and so will you be. Also, keep your stereo off. You want to hear the noises going on around you.
You won't be quick the first time, nor the second or third. It takes a lot of practice. Take your time. Feel the car as well as get used to the track. Watch other drivers who are faster than you and watch the lines they take through the corners and the braking points and see if you can adopt a similar approach. Early on in your track career it's worth getting an instructor in your car with you. It's relatively cheap and the benefits are huge.
It's not just the price of the track time that costs money. You'll be amazed at how fast you get through petrol, brake pads, brake discs and tyres. Because you're putting your Porsche through a lot more stress compared to road driving, there will be other major components that need replacing too. So be prepared to have deep pockets!
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