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My day at Bedford (GT), RS-280 Cup, Sep 14th

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  • My day at Bedford (GT), RS-280 Cup, Sep 14th

    My first track day in almost 20 years and 30 since I had the last one with my R5 GT Turbo!

    The long pause was caused by an off with a motorbike the last time I went on track (a high-side that reminded me one or two things about life) and the fact that for many years I was converted to big SUVs… so no material for track outings.

    A scorching day at Bedford with access to the 4-mile long GT layout, but a bit too hot for my taste: I ended up with both the helmet's interior and the under helmet balaclava sopping wet with sweat.

    When I booked it a few weeks’ back I was hoping for a low 20s kind of day… got a 30 instead!

    While waiting for my first green light from the pit lane, the marshal was keen to remind me that I could lower my side windows by 25%.

    My response to him was: “Thanks, but I’m shutting all the windows and turning on the AC!”... I could then tell from his expression that he hadn’t heard many others stating the same.

    Still, I ended up sweating my pants off!!

    The Megane performed faultlessly: a manual and all-stock sample apart from the optional cup chassis and the 19/245 corners with standard S001 (inherited from the previous owner).

    Given the lack of track time for quite a while, my mindset had “common sense” strongly at #1, adrenaline at #2 and a distant #3 being the “competitive tickle”.

    While still using all the track and trying different lines in the learning process, I managed to avoid 360 degree excursions in the fields (differently from a Caterham and an Ariel Atom) and the RS didn’t conk out like an M2 did after the longest straight of the track towards the end of the day; so there you have it… the French are more reliable than the Germans in Bedfordshire at 4pm with 30 degrees air temp!

    While appreciating how the GT layout of the track requires a certain dose of firing power because of three straight sections, it is also true that a few hairpins (one of which at the end of the short straight in front of the pit lane) require quite some hard braking with some squirreling of the rear and hazards turning on.

    With no track-focused tyres (plus the S001s have passed the fresher part of their lives), brake hoses, fluid and pads, I decided to average the number of laps per run to 4-5 (longest run was 6) especially when after two initial runs I found myself anticipating the braking to counteract the fading.

    Around 30 laps in total, but when I got back home, I was knackered.

    I couldn’t remember the physical aspect when I used to go on track with the R5, but is also true that I was almost 30 years younger then and I was braking, going through bends and chicanes with something that weighed less than 900 kilos compared to the almost 1500 of the Megane.

    I probably forgot how weight is king on track, given that very few other cars had the back seats still in them; I struggled to reel in a FN2 Type R on the straights despite its non-turbo Vtec engine and 200 PS because the “thing” was stripped of the back seats, had race tyres as well as the proper hoses and brake fluid (as found out by talking to the owner), making it more effective in corner entry and speed, therefore able to slingshot out of corners in a way that my extra 80 PS couldn’t compensate on even the longest straight.

    BTW: tried using the RS monitor app on both car and phone for the auto-lap-timing to have a rough idea... the former kept crashing and the latter struggled to recognise the GPS start position as the reference… so both... useless!

    Meg#3 ... counting on you joining me next time... and anybody else who may be in striking distance.

    Took a few (static) shots during the "chill-outs"...

    trackday140920_pits1.jpgtrackday140920_pits2.jpgtrackday140920_pits3.jpg
    trackday140920_coolingdown.jpgtrackday140920_others.jpg

  • #2
    Great write-up, might join in next time as I'm not too far away from Bedford.
    2019 Renault Megane RS Trophy 300 EDC
    2020 VW T-Cross SEL
    2012 Fiat 500 Twinair
    2007 Renault Megane 2
    ------------------------------------------
    Sports cars are difficult to justify, but easy to love

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    • #3
      Originally posted by GeoBog View Post
      Great write-up, might join in next time as I'm not too far away from Bedford.
      I'll definitely post something when I'm ready to book another session... in the meantime I need to look into new front pads and maybe carrying out some improvements on the hydraulics part (hose and fluid), but only if I can find someone who knows about all this.

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      • #4
        Great write up and sounds like you had fun. Also sounds like you pushed it fairly hard with brake fade but 30degrees won’t have helped. Hi temps always a challenge with heat in and around the car, plus saps power but low temps make everything very slippery. Which to prefer??? Anyway,. I hope the car lived up to expectations. Will definitely be up for a trackday at some point - I’ve always liked the Renault ones simply due to access to pro drivers and empty track but seems like they won’t be happening again for a while.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Meg#3 View Post
          Great write up and sounds like you had fun. Also sounds like you pushed it fairly hard with brake fade but 30degrees won’t have helped. Hi temps always a challenge with heat in and around the car, plus saps power but low temps make everything very slippery. Which to prefer??? Anyway,. I hope the car lived up to expectations. Will definitely be up for a trackday at some point - I’ve always liked the Renault ones simply due to access to pro drivers and empty track but seems like they won’t be happening again for a while.
          Air temp in the low 20s... that's my ideal track day.

          The car definitely lived up to expectations given that is all stock, eventually it was the driver who was not always 100% confident being the first time with the Megane and because tyres and brakes had already given the best out of their lives.

          A quick one on the topic of "improvements": I assume that if one goes down the line of replacing the standard brake lines with braided ones (such as the KTR set advertised by K-Tec) plus the use of racing fluid, this will invalidate what's left of the manufacture's warranty, or am I wrong in the assumption?

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          • #6
            I did my First full track day at Bedford with Renaultsport UK in August 2016. They were always well run with good driving standards. It is a shame they don't run them anymore.

            One benefit of having an older Renaultsport you can change what you want without worrying about warranty. I run Goodridge braided hoses and Motul RBF 660 Fluid with Carbon Lorraine RC5 front brake pads.

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            • #7
              Nice write up. After the couple of track days that I've done, I decided I definitely prefer tracks without long straights and heavy braking. It just seems to hammer the car for no real pleasure. Lots of flowing bends are much more fun.

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              • #8
                Good write up. I've just booked a day doing the GP layout on 12th Sept. Looking forward to it. Got my next four trips home from work organised with car sessions.

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