Targa Miata
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March 11, 2007 - Driver development time!
Most of my track time is spent in the Seven, but it's time to start paying more attention to Miatas. So this weekend I was at the track with a big blue car instead of the usual little orange one. The Miata is supercharged (about 155 hp at the wheels, I'd estimate) and has an off-the-shelf suspension from Flyin' Miata that works very well - FM springs, Tokico Illumina shocks, FM rear shock mounts and FM sway bars. There's one of Flyin' Miata's "butterfly braces" underneath so it's a good solid chassis. I was also running a set of Toyo RA-1s that were nicely broken in and some autocross brakes. Overall, it's a pretty good test bed for the rally car as it's running the same ride height and spring rates we expect to use.
After all the time spent in the lightweight car, it's good to see how well a sorted Miata works. It's forgiving, it's controllable and it sticks like crazy. There's obviously more weight transfer going on (and this car is heavier than the Targa car will be) but it's easy to use this as part of your driving technique. The autocross brake pads weren't up to sustained hard braking, so this meant I had to carry in higher entry speeds and worked as an excellent training tool. We'll be running better brakes in the Targa.
I spent some time driving "off line" at the track, pretending I didn't know where I was going and trying to deal with very different situations than the usual ideal line. I also tried to avoid using all of the track to give myself some extra room like we'll have to do in Newfoundland. It's tricky to pretend you don't know a track that's quite familiar to you, but it's also quite eye-opening how a well-known corner changes when you enter it from a different angle! Not only did this help me improve my skills, it also illustrated quite dramatically how much of a difference it makes in speed around the track.
Luckily, there were very few cars on the track so nobody thought I was crazy.
A good day overall. Time to get back to work though!
tags: testing, other cars, skills