After fitting the new turbo and getting the golf remapped on the Dyno I was very keen to do a trackday before Ringmeisters at the nurburgring in July. As I work shifts and have very few flexible holidays I book my trackdays on my days off. A quick look at a few trackday websites to find events on the dates I’m not working soon threw up Bedford on the 10th with MSV trackdays. I hadn’t driven Bedford since 2015 and with it having a long straight as well as a selection of fast and slow corners it was a good opportunity to revisit the circuit where I could open up the Golf and see just how quick 440HP would make it.
Matt was working and couldn’t get time off work, Cat wasn’t bothered so I asked Gav if he fancied a trackday. As usual, he jumped at the chance. We left home around 14:00 Sunday afternoon and had a steady drive down to Bedford.
I’d spoken to the circuit earlier in the week and they were happy with me leaving the trailer at the circuit on Sunday night. When we arrived the sky was pretty clear with no sign of rain.
Unloaded and locked up the trailer at the circuit. Not every circuit has a 24/7 security guard but if they do I always try and leave the trailer there the night before. I feel much happier with it being in a locked circuit rather than parked outside a travelodge.
Whilst it was a lovely summer evening, the forecast for tomorrow was a little wetter…
The 25 minute drive to the Travelodge took 50 minutes due to an awful diversion. Normally it wouldn’t matter but we wanted to get food ordered then back to the room to watch the F1. I was streaming on SkyGo to the TV. A couple of beers just finished it off nicely !
Arrived at the cold and wet circuit after a good nights sleep and unloaded the Golf. We were there nice and early and as it’s not possible to reserve a garage with MSV I wanted to grab one if possible to store our gear. It wouldn’t usually be an issue but the paddock it quite a way from the circuit at Bedford.
After the briefing a couple of guys were really struggling to get their head around the paddock to pits route, they thought the circuit needs closing to allow access so I explained how it worked on the circuit photo. I saw them later in the day and they explained they shouldn’t have worried as it was really easy once you saw it in person.
Garage No2 was empty so we quickly grabbed that and also Garage No1 for Steve who was also on the day in his caterham.
Next up was a windscreen clean and reapplication of some Rain-X. I find it bloody fantastic in bad weather and along with some anti-fog on the inside of the windscreen and side windows I tend not to have many issues. The only problems are when passengers get in who are soaking, the moisture coming off them can cause condensation inside the car.
Andy asked to have a look under the bonnet at the recent changes. This was the only time I needed to open the bonnet all day
It was time to go out for the first session and boy, was it wet ! I was running some Toyo RR1`s as my wet tyres. They were new and unscrubbed so the first few laps were taken nice and slow to get some heat into them and wear off the release agent. Back in for a quick check and tyre pressure tweak then straight out for a 30 minute session.
The car felt fantastic, the throttle response and mid-corner adjustability was better than ever. Partly down to the turbo retaining inertia and spinning up quicker when I reapplied the throttle and partly down to the external BOV having a heavier spring and not dumping all the boost on part throttle.
Obviously I was very keen to see just how well it went on high boost. Pouring rain and 1.5Bar doesn’t sound like a good mix but I have to say, I was absolutely gobsmacked at the traction and how the power was delivered. This is the most graphic demonstration of how the flat torque curve allows the wheels to retain grip, no big spike to suddenly overwhelm them.
Just watch this, Gav’s laugh helps convey just how rapid it feels but the speedo alone should be enough to show that. The way is keeps on pulling to redline is exactly what I expected after the dyno session but it’s still nice to see it put into practice.
Back into the garage to check everything over and a group wandered over from the next garage. They were here with a new Golf and couldn’t believe mine was only FWD.
I’ve recently fitted an Accusump (separate post to follow) to protect from oil starvation under high cornering forces. The new dashboard logs oil pressure and I hadn’t realised it was getting quite so low until I looked back at the datalogs !
The charge pressure was a little bit low and needed adjusting to increase the lowest pressure the oil would drop to under a starvation condition. Once topped up I drove a session with the accusump off, then opened it after several laps. The effectiveness of stopping the pressure drops is obvious.
I needed to refuel and Gav was impressed with my ingenuity. A strong neodynium magnet taped to the side of the funnel stick to the side of the car with some tissue to protect the paint. It allows easy refueling by one person.
Keerat was working nearby and popped along for a chat and to see how the day was going. I offered to take him out for a session but he was happy to watch.
Even though tyre wear was minimal, I wanted to rotate front to rear to try and even it out. The fronts were warm enough that the water dried off when stopped, the rears were cold after several sessions. I hoped that by swapping them I’d have some heat in the rears which was the case but they cooled down after a session on track.
They are 888 compound but with extra groove for water displacement. I’ve run proper Pirelli wets before and whilst the Toyo’s are impressive, they weren’t as good as the full race wets.
We the went out for another session and here’s a fairly clear lap. The whole day felt quiet and even though there were plenty cars on track it never felt overly busy.
Adam had bought a friends Caterham and he knew all about the Golf. After having a chat mid morning and seeing it on track he asked if he could come out for a session. No problem at all.
Strapped in, went out and span. oops. Not my finest moment that’s for certain. For the rest of the session it was OK but I kept apologising as whenever I take someone new out I always drive a bit slower than usual to ensure there are no dramas at all. The changing conditions just caught me out this time. I did feel a bit better when I followed him later in the day and everytime I caught him he span in front of me
Not sure when, but I spotted the rear window vent had fallen out ! They aren’t under any particular stress and I have no idea what caused it to happen.
I kept seeing Lee out and about braving the conditions and taking photos. The least I could do was give him a smile. I was out for 30 minutes at a time and every lap I gave him a wave when he was looking in my direction.
As the track was so quiet I started playing around a little. Not full on lift-off oversteer, but trailing the brake into a corner to rotate the car and square up the exit. It’s something racers do all the time but I’m no racer so don’t do it often at all. As I increased in confidence, so too did the angle of slip when I approached an apex.
Eventually the marshalls decided enough was enough and showed me the No Drifting board. Being told to stop drifting in my FWD Golf was a highlight of the day for me
I softened up the suspension in the wet and it really helped with the traction and stability. There is always more body roll but it’s definitely worth adjusting as the conditions change. I’m always surprised how many people never touch the damper settings even as the circuit or weather conditions change !
Wet weather photos are a particular favourite of mine, you can always see the amount of water being moved by the Aero.
That and the fact you get random people wandering up in the pits saying “I had to put my wipers on full when you passed me with the amount of spray this thing throws up!!”
The rain kept falling and standing water was getting quite deep in places, so much so that aquaplaning became an issue. This video at 4:42 is a perfect example of how conditions changed from lap to lap. Even so, the way the Golf put the power down was mightily impressive. The DTA ECU has built in traction control with speed inputs from 4 wheels, it’s completely user adjustable from the amount of wheel slip it allows to how aggressive it works when it detects slip. I turned the traction control on for some laps and didn’t really feel it doing anything, but after half a dozen laps I turned it off and started wheelspinning everywhere ! Whilst I hadn’t felt the TC doing much, it was stopping all the momentary slides from too much throttle. Where the inside wheel occasionally spins up on corner exit, that was stopped completely.
I’m absolutely delighted with how it works, it’s not too intrusive but also not so effective that you can simply plant your foot and let the electronics sort it out. It’s more of a fine tuning adjustment for the throttle pedal and it just what I was hoping for. For several sessions I wasn’t sure it actually did much at all but looking at the data saw it had been making tiny corrections on corner exits when applying the power. It is even less intrusive in the dry and it’ll be very interesting to see just how much it does at the Ring next month.
I finished the day off with a 45 minute session that ended when the chequered flag came out. I was absolutely buzzing at the end of the day. Not a single issue with the Golf at all, I just put fuel in and a splash of oil. The tyre rotation wasn’t necessary but I wanted to even out the wear as much as possible. I would rather all 4 wear at a similar rate rather than just the front 2 and the rears still look like new.
On the drive home Gav and I discussed the laps and the car performance and both agreed the Golf had felt fantastic. I can’t remember finishing a day and looking back where everything felt so good.
I know this is a pretty short post but nothing happened that needed fixing. I drove over 230 miles on track without a single problem and only stopped to put more petrol in or have a break.
Next track outing is the 2 day Ringmeisters Prime on the Nurburgring in July. Fingers crossed everything goes as smoothly as Bedford.