NSX files, project Germany: Track day at Dijon 01.05.2004
1 more second shaved off  Dijontrack

What a great racing day: No rain, dry track, a maximum of about 16 degrees Celsius, partly cloudy, a bit windy and a mixture of nearly a dozen Honda NSX, some more Integras, S 2000, Civic Type R etc. as part of the NSX& Honda Sportscar club plus some P- and F-cars as guests. That meant a full track sometimes with very different speed and skill levels but also some fun with overtaking slower cars and chasing nearly equal or faster racers - and I don't speak of the Honda Trophy (which I don't drive) but of the free practice.

The Fastvoice NSX behind the white GT 2 prototype that was capable of 1:26 lap times
with driver Philippe Favre
(see pictures below).                                                         
Pics copyright by V-images and my girlfriend Renate

Philippe Favre

For my NSX it was the 8th time overall on this track but the first time with the new NSX-R carbon fibre wing and the OMP racing steering wheel. So chances where good to beat my old best lap time of 1:35,44 from last year. I was especialy interested how the wing would work in the last corner before the long main straight, the Courbe de Pouhas, with some negative banking and nearly no safety zones. The speed you carry from this corner is affecting your top speed on this track. Last year my corner exit speed was about 160 km/h, this time already in the cold morning I was able to increase that by appr. 5 km/h. My top speed at the end of the straight rose from 240 to 245 km/h and in lap 18 I had a 1:34,80 on my laptimer - yippie!

Dijon05 dijon0408
You can download 2 hi-res pictures of the Fastvoice Honda NSX as your new screensaver or background here and there

I was sure to improve that time once more because I had some problems with the rare left corners on this clockwise track, the right front tire didn't warm up enough and had about 0.3 bars less hot pressure than the left one. I raised the pressure (which may sound weired but works okay with Yokohama slicks) from 1.9 to 2.1 bars and tried again. Okay, less understeer in left corners and in some parts of the track that I could drive in 3rd gear last year I had to upshift this year to avoid activating the rev limiter - good sign.

In lap 27 in the morning I had a 1:34,62 on the timer which was about 1 second faster than last year and usualy the best times are in the afternoon. After about a 2 hours break because of the usual midday silence and the two 30-minutes Trophy runs I tried again to improve the time especialy because I had no mechanical failures or problems with car. Everything worked great so I was optimistic. After some laps in dense traffic I had some relatively free space to go to the limits. I had a really good feeling but the best times where in mid 1:35s - bummer! So I watched the speedometer in some corners and saw that I was a lot slower in the right corners than in the morning, especialy in the Courbe de Pouhas. What happened?

dijon0409 opelhonda
1st trophy run with NSX prototype in front of 2 P-cars                                   How to fit an Opel Speedster to a Honda line-up with just a sticker

Back in the parking lot I checked the tire pressures and saw: The left front tire was rubbbed down to the tread pattern about 1/3 from the outside! It was the 2nd track day with this tire set so you can imagine this compound is relatively smooth and I drove very hard. Of course my 2nd set of rims I had with me was equipped with Bridgestone SO 03 PP street legal tires I use for rain and intermediate conditions so no improvement possible by changing the rims. Driving with a tire that is worn to the tread is of course a serious safety hazard so I stopped driving for this track day. I'm pretty sure that I would have cracked the 1:34 with a good set of tires this afternoon.

Dijon07 dijon02

But all in all I'm pretty satisfied, a new set of tires is already in stock for my next track event in Spa-Francorchamps (17th of May) and I'm sure I will improve my last years laptime there too. Some fellow NSXers inspected my car, admired the rear wing and asked if it really improves driving. My answer: It definetely does, the Honda guys tested the original wing in the wind tunnel, my wing is a 100% copy and so it works like the Tochigi R&D people intended it. A proof for that is the increased speed in high speed corners, the rear end of the car feels much more stable and safer than before and the upforce in front has been increased as I could see at the wear of the tires. Until further aerodynamical improvements at the front I have to work with more mechnical grip there (which leads to more tire wear) whereas the rear tires wear less than before because of the increased downforce.

The rest of the improvement may be the increase of driver's skill. An example for that could be seen at the Honda trophy. The NSX racing prototype of one of our senior members (I won't tell the name) had about the same laptimes with the owner driving as me and my car in the free practice. In the 1st Trophy run Philippe Favre - swiss ex FIA GT driver and former driver of a NSX in the 24 hours of Le Mans - was the pilot of the prototype and won in front of a race Porsche GT 2 with a best lap time of a bit over 1:26 which means Philippe drove the car at least 8 seconds faster than its owner! Welcome to a whole new world of driving. Imagine what he could do with my car if I could only adjust the driver's seat to his size (the seat is fixed to my 1.94 m length and Philippe is a lot smaller)!

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