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Kammo

Sharpening the scalpel - 997 GT3 Track Rat

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[Preamble]

Almost a year into ownership so I guess it's about time to get documenting. When looking for a tool that is just going to get wailed on, it didn't have to be the neatest example with low kilometers and perfect paint and to be honest it didn't even have to be a clubsport as you can buy a lot of extra stuff for the $25K premium that the second-hand market was charging. I didn't have a modification plan or anything but knowing myself the car was not likely to remain bone-stock for long so deciding between the nuanced handling aspects of the series 1 996 GT3 through to the series 2 997 GT3 wasn't really an issue. I just like the more classic look of the 997, from the round headlights to the dash design and from there it was hard to justify the difference between series 1 and series 2. 

[The car]

Relatively speaking, my car is not so special, but it's perfect for me. I'm not sure about anyone else, but when buying a car I tend to start at the bottom and work my way up and fortunately for me my car was right at the bottom. The car presented as a touring model but after chatting to the previous owner about it and mentioning my intention for the car he happily proceeded to tell me that he had a whole host of track-day stuff that he'd acquired for the car during his tenure, including CAMS approved half-cage, bucket seats, harnesses, a spare set of wheels shod in A050 tyres and a fire extiguisher; pretty much everything the budding track-day enthusiast needed to get going and that he'd really only used the car to do track days himself. As the car was quite remote a bit of due diligence had to be done on my part but in the end a deal was struck and I organized to fly to Adelaide and pick the car up mostly in track-ready configuration and have the additional bits palletized and sent to my warehouse.

[The Goal]

When you read or watch any car-related material, the GT3 is supposed to be the epitome of handling and feedback. Combine that with the reputation the 911 has as being "the thinking man's sports car" and I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. There's also plenty of data out there about what lap times others have set as PCV is very active on all the various Victorian circuits. Ultimately the goal for me is to (relatively safely) see how quick I can make this car. Ultimately I've always had the view that as a driver you need to adapt to the way a certain car drives but as a tinkerer you can also bring the car towards you and meet somewhere in the middle, so this thread will mostly be focused on my observations of driving this car on the track, what changes I've had to make to my own driving style and what changes I've made to the car to make it drive more like how I want. 

[Insert random track-day photo]

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Nice & good luck with it.. I had the same car for 3 years in PCV competition even won the Championship in its class one year. I trashed the brain out of my car & enjoyed every lap in it.. 

If your going to compare my lap times keep in mind my car was 100% standard apart from brake pads & r-spec tyres & I'm not the best driver.. see you out there  

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I should also ad that the current GT2 class lap records are all with a 997.2 GT3 

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31 minutes ago, James P said:

If your going to compare my lap times keep in mind my car was 100% standard apart from brake pads & r-spec tyres & I'm not the best driver.. see you out there  

Thanks James, I'll keep that in mind...eventually I'm planning on jumping on the PCV bandwagon once I'm happy with where I'm at with the car. 

[Track Day #1 - Nugget Nationals Round #1 @ Winton - March 2017]

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A few years ago some of my friends from my regular track-day club decided that things were getting pretty intense in the chase for lap times and that everyone should just take a chill pill and The Nugget Nationals was born. Rules are you can't enter a car that costs more than $3,000 and the engine can't be more than 1.5-litres in capacity. I usually go up to lend a hand and track whatever I have at the time. Unfortunately the 911 is non-complaint for championship points. So three days into ownership and after a quick check-up of the car it's off to Winton for a shakedown. One of my friends that usually races a Civic brought his old man's GT3 out to play so we could a few laps together. 

My initial impressions were that 911s are a bit of a mixed bag. As everyone seems to go on and on about the steering response and feedback is stand-out, but throughout the day there were definitely struggles in adapting to rear-engine layout. In a nutshell I think you have to pay a lot of attention to the timing and duration of trail-braking to steady-state to throttle-down. Too much trail and the tail breaks loose, too early on the gas the car pushes wide. The timing of it all is different to cars I've tracked previously and of all the cars I've owned the 911 appreciates very precise inputs.

I also hated the street tyres that came with the car. Not sure what the factory tyre was but the car had Michelin Pilot Sports. You could feel the car move a lot on the sidewalls and they became pretty greasy pretty fast. There was some weird inertia stuff going on with the rear-engine that I didn't like; it's like you get the car loaded up into a corner and a split second later the engine settles on the mounts and the rear end momentarily unbalances. Finally, having trouble with gear selection, 2nd gear is super tall and I was trying to use it through the slower hair-pins but the second didn't like being selected when the car was loaded laterally and under brakes. 

In the end Track Day #1 finished up with a 1:40.08 and a bunch of things for me to think about; getting a more familiar set of tyres, figuring out why it's hard to select 2nd and working around what I perceived as the movement of the engine independently of the chassis. 

Overall though the car is enticing for all the reasons everyone talks about, the car punishes and rewards in equal measure and the punishments are pretty benign. As soon as you push a little too hard and the car steps a little or pushes a little you know you're done for that lap and when you do stitch a good lap together it feels like an achievement. 

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[Track Day #2 - Haunted Hills - May 2017]

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The next scheduled outing was Haunted Hills down in Gippsland. Not exactly a track, more like a winding country road. I had the car re-shod in Hankook RS3s and the car felt all the better for it. Though there wasn't really the chance to get a lot of heat into the tyre there was a lot more feedback on the limit. There's not a lot of track time, three runs in clock-wise format and three runs in figure-eight. The start line is pretty much on a right hand turn and I'm still having some issues getting the car into second as there is a small window between the start and the next corner where the car isn't laterally loaded. I googled this issue and it seems there are few people having similar problems but no definite solution (about 50/50 driver vs. mechanical issue from the looks of it).

I really like the second cross-over on the figure-eight track; seeing how long you can stay on the gas for as you come up over the crest and down into the valley and the last two corners are wide and fun, this was the first time I got a good feel for sliding the car into the apex under brakes. 

Looking back I can't seem to find the results but they weren't that spectacular, but a great day nonetheless. 

 

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[Trackday #3 & #4 EXE @ Winton - 03/06 - 04/06]

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Starting to get a good feel for the car now that it's on some decent rubber. The transmission shifts perfectly fine on the streets, it's only fully loaded that it won't shift so I did some research around not quite finding 2nd and came up with these squishy inserts that go into the voids of the transmission mount;

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and while the car was on the hoist I also threw in a set of semi-sold engine mounts in an attempt to deal with the inertia of the engine;

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Finally, the 18-inch tyres with A050s also arrived.

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OK so pretty much good to roll with the first round of minor tweaks installed. Seeing as it was a two day event, I was going to split my time between driving the car on the RS-3 street tyres then transition across to the A050s, which had seen better days. All the tweaks panned out as anticipated and the car was instantly faster, going 1:38.4 in the first session. The weird inertia from the rear end was gone and while I still miss second gear on occasion, the 3rd to 2nd downshift is pretty reliable now, though if the car is very loaded laterally it's still a bit hit and miss.

The times kept coming down as continued to build confidence in the car, just before lunch I put down a 1:35.9 and the tyres were starting to feel a little heat-soaked so I decided to switch over to the A050s early. At the end of the day I'd managed to put down a 1:33.5, which turned out to be my fastest time for the weekend.

It was nice to have the car feeling nice and balanced and be able to build some trust in how the car is going respond to inputs. It's also nicer to actually drive the car on street tyres, the way it moves around and the more progressive breakaway is a much nicer feeling than the snappier semis. 

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Nice write up, did you end up selling those 996 GT3 wheels (above)?

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On 30/03/2018 at 5:19 PM, dan_189 said:

Nice write up, did you end up selling those 996 GT3 wheels (above)?

Hi Dan, yeah sold them to one of the PCV crew :-)

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21 minutes ago, Kammo said:

Hi Dan, yeah sold them to one of the PCV crew :-)

Nice, if they were the standard colour I probably would have snapped them up! They were actually a bit more rare than standard GT3 wheels because the fronts were 8" (if I recall correctly) rather than 8.5".

Anyway good to hear you got them sold :)

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2 hours ago, dan_189 said:

They were actually a bit more rare than standard GT3 wheels because the fronts were 8" (if I recall correctly) rather than 8.5".

Anyway good to hear you got them sold :)

Yeah they were an 8-inch which was a little weird :-)

[Trackday #5 - Sandown 09/07]

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As I've been getting used to the car it's kinda time to start punting it elsewhere, this time at my least favourite track; Sandown. It's a Tampered Motorsport Day which is generally peppered with a few loose units. Actually the midfield suffers for it the most, once you're in the faster groups it's generally OK except for the odd V8-supercar replica that you need to exercise caution around. Thankfully I'm not alone as my mate Daz has rocked up with his 2J BRZ.

The standard braking hardware worked fine on street tyres but you could feel a bit of fade on semis, so I switched out to my favourite Project Mu HC+ which I've run on many different cars. Once again on the 911 they don't disappoint, however the expensive Castrol SRF is pretty much done half-way through the day which leads to issues not only with braking but with gear selection, so after putting down a tardy 1.24.1 before lunch, I cooled the brakes down as best I could and limped the car back home.

Now on the list of things to do was find some better fluid.

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Yeah the faster groups are generally quite numpy free but I have come across a couple of knobs who bought ex V8 Supercars and couldn't drive.  I remember one passing me down PI straight, I was concentrating on safely passing a slower car, he was close to the pit wall and I was 2/3 across the track when this dickhead decided he'd go 3 wide, channeling SVG with 2 wheels almost on the grass to get by me.  Scared the crap out of me.  It was a bloody sprint day, not the final race of the Supercars championship!

good write up, keep them coming, GT cars are quite impressive out of the box and can be seriously quick with a few tweaks.

2JZ BRZ, that sounds like my flavour, any details?

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33 minutes ago, Kammo said:

Yeah they were an 8-inch which was a little weird :-)

They were available as a set in 8" front and standard 11" rear later (2004 onwards) as a tequipment option for Carreras. 

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22 minutes ago, Kammo said:

The standard braking hardware worked fine on street tyres but you could feel a bit of fade on semis, so I switched out to my favourite Project Mu HC+ which I've run on many different cars. Once again on the 911 they don't disappoint, however the expensive Castrol SRF is pretty much done half-way through the day which leads to issues not only with braking but with gear selection, so after putting down a tardy 1.24.1 before lunch, I cooled the brakes down as best I could and limped the car back home.

Now on the list of things to do was find some better fluid.

Not sure how your going to find better brake fluid than SRF sounds like your asking to much of your pads i.e they are not biting enough on the disk therefor creating to much friction heat as you press harder on the brake pedal to get the 1.35 ton car stopped..  i suggest a more aggressive pad like a Pagid RS29 or my favourite the Ferodo DS1.11 for full on racing. A more aggressive pad will create less heat & less pedal pressure will be required allowing the brake fluid to do its work as designed 

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+1 on the Pagids 

 

Great thread by the way, will keep an eye on it.... I'm going through a similar process with my 7.1 too 

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17 hours ago, DJM said:

2JZ BRZ, that sounds like my flavour, any details?

Actually it's for sale for a reasonable price; $65K. Purchased as a rolling shell and everything on it is genuine, it's one of those no-expense-spared builds but it's a handful of a car and I don't think Darrin is super keen on it after writing off his Evo at one of the WTAC events. Competed in World Time Attack a couple of times...if you search "2JZ BRZ" on Facebook you'll find it.

 

17 hours ago, James P said:

Not sure how your going to find better brake fluid than SRF sounds like your asking to much of your pads i.e they are not biting enough on the disk therefor creating to much friction heat as you press harder on the brake pedal to get the 1.35 ton car stopped..  i suggest a more aggressive pad like a Pagid RS29 or my favourite the Ferodo DS1.11 for full on racing. A more aggressive pad will create less heat & less pedal pressure will be required allowing the brake fluid to do its work as designed 

 

20 minutes ago, edgy said:

+1 on the Pagids 

 

Great thread by the way, will keep an eye on it.... I'm going through a similar process with my 7.1 too 

Thanks for the feedback Guys, I never thought of it that way to be honest. It's only been problematic at Sandown due to having two pretty big braking zones per lap and I haven't had an issue since but I will definitely look at new pads next time around.

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Also look at Performance Friction. Their 11 compound is ace and they work like new right down to the backing plates. 

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^^^^ This guy. I was previously a fan of the Pagid RS29, but have been told they have changed their formula, and my experience with the lest set tends to agree. I have gone PFC and much prefer them. 

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On 07/04/2018 at 3:40 PM, Teutonic said:

^^^^ This guy. I was previously a fan of the Pagid RS29, but have been told they have changed their formula, and my experience with the lest set tends to agree. I have gone PFC and much prefer them. 

I found my pagids became a lot less effective once the pads wore past half way. Also doesn’t help that they’re almost double the price of PFC! Only criticism of PFC that you hear is they can be harsh on rotors, but show me a race pad that isn’t!

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6 hours ago, spiller said:

I found my pagids became a lot less effective once the pads wore past half way. Also doesn’t help that they’re almost double the price of PFC! Only criticism of PFC that you hear is they can be harsh on rotors, but show me a race pad that isn’t!

Very true the pagids are not good once you get half way into them.. 

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I found mine pretty rubbish straight out of the box. Had found them to be a mega pad in the past, but just didn't seem to have the initial bite and modulation I was used to with the last set. 

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Ferodo Racing DS1.11 is what was used in Aust Carrera Cup with the 996 Cup's i find them the best pad I've driven on by far, they work perfectly in 996/997 GT3's & Cup's

 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone...will definitely do a bit more research into pads next time around...which will be a little way off as I just put in another set of HC+ pads, which are working OK for me at Winton and PI for now.

[Trackday #6 - Winton 30/07]

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With the A050s finally down past indicator, I took the opportunity to change over to Hankook Z221s, which I've used for years and pick up a set of new wheels. The previous owner had muffin-topped 245s on the 8-inch and I'd gone the other way and stretched 235s on a 9-inch. Wheels in question are Rays / Volk Racing TE37 RTs, which were pretty much the only available TE37 for the 911 (I have a thing for TE37s). The OEM rotors were also showing signs of wear around the holes; little cracks radiating outwards, so I swapped them out for a set of DBA5000s, which I've used before in conjunction with HC+ pads and they work consistently. 

I was expecting an overall reduction in front-end grip due to the smaller width front tyre but I got the opposite. I can only guess that the stretch results in a stiffer sidewall profile which in turn gives you a better contact patch. There was also a slight variation on the offsets which would have probably contributed to the handling change. So with increased front-end grip the car became quite oversteery to the point where I ended up stiffening the front sway-bar, which balanced the car back out, but a little late in the day. 

The handling characteristic of the Z221s are also a little different to the A050s they're a bit more sensitive to tyre pressure and go off a bit faster (soft compound vs. soft compound). 

Best time for the day; 1:34.5, about a second off my fastest time so far.

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[Trackday #7 - Circuit Club @ Winton 12/08]

Ahh this was a memorable track day, as I finally start to unlock a few secrets of the 911, thanks to my good mate who let me follow him around the track in the first session. I realized there are a couple of small exploits you can use and rather than the traditional high-low-high corner approach there are some corners where you can consider shortest distance as an option to save some time.

Managed to squeeze out a new PB of 1:33.2 and come away with some new insights about the car. Also set up the GoPro on the half-cage so now I've got some vids.

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Nice driving. Thanks for sharing. Was it my ears or did i hear the stereo on? Just made me wonder, as much as i often drive with no stereo on so i can enjoy hearing the car, would playing something like Metallica make me drive better? It definitely gets my blood pumping, hence i have personally changed to Jazz to calm myself and avoid any chance of heated driving (road rage or disappointment of others causing frustration.)

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16 hours ago, Peter John said:

Was it my ears or did i hear the stereo on? Just made me wonder, as much as i often drive with no stereo on so i can enjoy hearing the car, would playing something like Metallica make me drive better? It definitely gets my blood pumping, hence i have personally changed to Jazz to calm myself and avoid any chance of heated driving (road rage or disappointment of others causing frustration.)

Yeah you can't actually hear anything with the helmet on and the engine wailing away in the background, but yeah the stereo was on haha.

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