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2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 - Faultless?

Sitting in the Paddock lookin’ pretty. Picture by Graham MacNeil (Instagram @ns_streetscene) 
Driving cars fast is similar to playing and composing music. You can’t produce good music in all genres in the same way. You have to pay attention to scales, beats, appropriate tempo, chords, etc. In much the same way, different types of cars like to be driven differently to reward you. Depending on the handling balance of the car (understeer, neutral, or oversteer), weight distribution, polar moment, yaw axis location, driven wheels, etc. Luckily, I had a chance to find what the Cayman GT4 is like.

I was asked to come for ride on track on a lapping day I went to (lapping day post here) to ride in a Porsche Cayman GT4. Needless to say, I took it. Although there is a lot you can’t tell about a car from the passenger seat, you can still judge quite a few things. Plus, I have been a passenger in a lot of cars on the track, stock, modified, and built, ranging from humble SRT4's and Evos to Co…

Porsche Cayman V8

Well, it looks like someone figured out how to improve a Porsche Cayman.. This could inflict some (very) serious damage. A buddy of mine said Porsche purists will begin to die (as a result). That's probably true, and for that, I do apologize. However, look at this way. Porsche took away the flat six out of the Cayman and stuffed a turbo 4 in its place in the new Caymans.. At least this is naturally aspirated and (I can say from experience) is beautifully linear, and of course powerful. What better way to stick it to Porsche than effectively removing the turbo and doubling the cylinder count?



Natal Day 2016 AFRA Lapping Day

I went back to the track earlier this week for a lapping day organized by the Atlantic Formula Racing Association (AFRA). Turnout was great and weather was nice. There were quite a few Mustangs, actually, something I haven't seen since the S197 Boss 302's were released.




This Natal Day, there was a '13 or '14 Mustang V6, first time I had seen a V6 Mustang on the track. The V6 Mustang didn't sound bad at all and had quite a few modifications. Its pace was better than I had expected too. There were also two 2015 Mustang GT's, 3 Boss 302's (two 2012's and one 2013 - all white! The fastest colour, of course.), and there was one Shelby.. a GT350R. Beautiful car and it sounded awesome.  I (very unfortunately) did not get a chance to take a video to capture the noise since we typically were on the track at the same time (but different sections). I'll try to make sure to capture it next time. For now, here are a couple of pictures.








The day, unfortunately, d…

Intro: Focus RS vs Golf R vs WRX STI vs Evo X

You read that right. We're going to put these cars to the test, including the highly anticipated 350 hp Focus RS, not just on the street, but also on our very own excellent local track - Atlantic Motorsport Park. We will hit the track first in September to learn two of the cars and then back in October to learn the other two cars and set lap times in all four. We will also take them on the street to see which one is more comfortable  (although we won't care as much about that portion because, well, we don't). But first, let's introduce the cars.
The WRX STI and Evo X are very well established. They're to AWD turbo compacts what Mustangs and Camaros are to muscle cars. They have huge followings and very loyal fans and, regardless of which is on top, they both are very capable and are the result of years of experience and continuous improvement. The Golf R isn't exactly new, now in its second generation, and it has been with us in one form or another for over a …

Porsche Club of America (PCA) - Acadia Region Track Daze

Last week, I spent another couple of days at our track with the local PCA to participate in their annual High Performance Driving School (Track Daze - link here). There was great turnout with plenty of cool cars, including the new 991 GT3 RS in the picture below, which you can also see (and, more importantly, hear) pass me in the video at the end of the post at 5:55. Weather did not disappoint either, presenting us with a dry track for two full days. This is the first time I have been able to attend, as PCA run their schools on weekdays and I wasn't able to find time the last few years. Luckily, this year, I planned it well in advance and made it there.




The school has four run groups - Green for novice students, Yellow for intermediate students, Red for advanced students and newer instructors, and Black for experienced instructors. The local BMW club - BMW Club Atlantic - also arranges HPDS's (Advanced Driver Training - link here), which I have been going to since 2011 and wh…

My 2012 Mustang Boss 302 Progress

My car is mostly stock but I thought I'd make a post about my progress with the few things I've done and their purpose.

- TracKey (purpose: performance): This is pretty obvious. I have read plenty of articles about the development of the track key with numbers ranging from 200 to 400 parameters in the PCM being changed, including throttle response, torque management, intake and exhaust variable cam timing, ignition timing, among others. It also automatically sets the steering weight to heavy (adjustable with the regular key) and relaxes stability control safety nets. I feel like ABS is also less intrusive/aggressive but have never read about that so could just be in my head. The intent was to tune the engine to run like the Boss 302S race car, dialed back only for street durability requirements and emissions.

- Ford Racing Torsen Diff - OEM spec (purpose: performance): I bought my car used (with 231 miles, mind you). It's a long story but the point is, I didn't order…

Cool Local Race Cars

Mk3 VW GTI: The first one is the 95 GTI IT-B car which, frankly, isn't too cool. It is a great car to drive (read more about my first race here) but besides that, there is nothing special about it. Until you find out about the work that went into it. I'm not just talking about the standard stuff, which in itself took a lot (a lot) of time and money to have the car as it is today, but I learned something even more impressive during the last race weekend.



The team apparently ran the cars on stock OEM hubs and never had a problem with them. Then, VW decided to switch the manufacturing for the hubs from Germany to China. The change in quality was dramatic. How dramatic? The wheels would fall off. The team tried to source the same hubs but to no avail. The solution? Build them. The team builds their own wheel hubs because they can't find the right parts. Brian Gay, who takes care of a lot of the maintenance and repairs on the race cars, machines the hubs for the cars. H…

The Rams Eye is Racing (Again)!

I went back for the second (and third) race days of the season. I heard this is the first time we had a double header weekend since 2009. For a lot of the teams (basically all local), it's tough to make sure cars are race ready for two race days in a row, due to limited budgets, crew, and resources in general. Unfortunately, due to the same constraints for the organizers, a July race day couldn't be arranged so the option was to have one fewer race in the season, or do a double in June. Obviously, the decision was made to do a double in June.




As I mentioned in the previous post, the car I am racing is a 1995 VW Golf GTI. I am very fortunate to have the Vantage Motors team. They maintain and transport the car so I had a lot less to worry about for the weekend. This time, I shared the car with Jay Barthelotte and, once again, Derek Lugar. This is how we split it for the days:

1- Qualifying A: Jay
2- Qualifying B: Myself
3- Race A: Jay
4- Race B: Myself
5- Unlimited (no classes)…

Is the Corvette automatic really slow shifting?

I lost count of how many times I've read a post about the new eight speed automatic in the Corvette and some Cadillacs, due to disappointment in the claim that it shifts as fast or faster than Porsche's PDK. I didn't doubt GM's claim when I read it but I lost faith after all the disappointment. After seeing this video, though, I'm starting to regain trust in GM's claim.

I think the trouble is that people are expecting it to act like a PDK or a good double clutch transmission all the time and I don't think GM intended that. I think GM wants it to act like a traditional torque converter automatic - slower and smoother - unless you're flat out and that's where the frustration comes from. If you keep that mind, the transmission works as advertised. Want to see how fast it shifts flat out? Skip to 1:05 of this video.





Service at ISI Automotive

I wanted to get an alignment done for this season so I decided to call my friends at ISI Automotive. My car has camber plates so there is a good range of caster and camber adjustment for the front wheels. I already did an alignment when I got the camber plates but my mechanic doesn't deal with alignment varying from factory settings and aftermarket parts of this sort so I called Phil Tuff at ISI Automotive to take it in.




Phil is the service manager who runs the shop with Steve Phillips, the owner. They have worked at VW and BMW dealerships for many years and decided it was time to open a shop, but it isn't just a job. Phil has 1981 BMW 320i. Well, it used to be anyway. It is a lot more M3 than 320i now. I always bombard him with questions about the build because I think it will be awesome when done. I asked him to send me details of the build so I will make a separate post about it. In summary, though, the current engine is based on a US spec S14 M3 engine. "Based on&quo…






Does An Aftermarket Grille Really Increase Airflow?
I put a Saleen S281 grille to the test to answer that question.

Stock Suspension S197 Mustang With Square 305/30/19's
What you need to fit a proper size square tire setup.

How Limited Slip Diffs Make You Faster on Track
What you need to know about how they put power down and pros and cons.

Can Telemetry Explain Schumacher's Talent?
A comparison between Schumacher's and then team mate Herbert's data.






Cayman GT4 Track Review
The first Cayman with proper (911-challenging) power.

Is an EcoBoost Mustang any good on Track?
Two days at the track in a Mustang short 4 cylinders.

2016 BMW M4 DCT Track Review
It's quick (properly quick). But is it fun?

Can a stock Golf Diesel handle a Track Day?
Not your every day track beater.




🔥 Most Visited This Week

Michelin Pilot Super Sports vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 - Street Review

I've been a huge fan of Michelin PSS tires and exclusively bought them for the Mustang over the last four years. So how did I end up here? This year, I was hugely interested in trying an "R-comp" tire. I had my eyes set on Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R's for two simple reasons: price and reputation. Although not a true "R-comp" tire on paper, it performs like one by the account of every single test and review I've read (down to wear rates...). They seem like they're easily the most affordable (from a big brand) R-comp tire and combine that with a reputation for having tons of grip, it was an easy top contender. I had my concerns, though. For one, I'm told and have read that they are an autox tire, not really designed for high speed, pressure, and temps associated with open track. For another, the Mustang is a heavy car (as far as track cars are concerned) being roughly 3,800 lb. (including driver), which will amplify the unwanted open track loads.…

Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R Track Review

For better or for worse, I have heard and read so much about RE-71R's. Everyone swears by the grip but complains about the wear. Generally speaking, the pros are:

1. They grip as well or better than most R comps.
2. They don't wear as quickly as R comps if driven occasionally on the street.
3. They work better in the rain than R comps.

The cons were limited to overheating quickly when used on track (being an autocross tire) and wearing too fast on heavy cars like mine.

In the popular 200 TW category, they are faster than the popular Hankook RS-4's and BFGoodrich Rival S's according to published Tire Rack Tests. According to plenty of reviews, they are also faster than well established R comps like R888R's (which don't seem to work too well on heavy cars anyway) and the venerable NT01's. But I was still hesitant for a while until I talked to a tire tech support gentleman at Tire Rack who has gone faster on RE-71R's than NT01s. In a Mustang (his own, not…

GTR vs Evo X vs STI: which has the best AWD system?

A few weeks ago, I made a post explaining mainstream AWD system types and how they compare, pros and cons, etc. including some simple diagrams to show where the power goes and how much. As promised, this post will focus on specific cars and what AWD systems they use, especially ones that that have more or less been defined by their AWD systems, and the best place to start may be with a bombshell; the Nissan GT-R.


Nissan GT-R (R35)

The GT-R has built a reputation around having monster traction and very approachable performance, thanks to its AWD system - Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) - and what it can do for you. But the GT-R doesn't actually use the most mechanically sophisticated type of AWD systems discussed in the previous article, namely a "true" AWD with a centre differential. Instead, it uses a clutch pack to transfer power.


The R32, R33, and R34 Skyline GT-R's used a system that looked basically identical to the traditiona…

Michelin PSS vs Firestone Indy 500 - Track Review

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my first impressions of Michelin's PSS vs Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires. I've run PSS's for several years on the Boss, but I'm trying the Indy 500's for the first time. In short, I was worried about the narrower tires (I was running 285/35/18 PSS but could only find the Indy 500 in 275/35/18) and tread squirm, but I was happy with them up to that point just driving on the street. I had the chance to drive on them for three track days now. So what were they like? After my first session, they made an impression that basically persisted for the rest of track sessions on them. Phenomenal, unmatched value. Now, if value is something that stands out above all else, it typically means the compromise between qualities you want and those you don't is less than ideal, but the value is attractive. This is no different. I'll start with the bad, which really boil down to two: ultimate grip and grip longevity.

Grip is noticeably lowe…