Fast and Furious – Porsche Academy at Porsche Experience Center LA (1)
Session 2 – 992 911 Carrera S
Like I said in the last post, I’d drive a Porsche 992 911 Carrera S – exactly same one I bought in September last year. As Nikita said, I’d feel like home. And the 911 definitely felt very different from 718 Cayman S – it’s bigger, and engine is mounted behind the rear axle, so it has more downforce back there. It’s much faster – 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds. I was very pleasantly shocked on the straight line acceleration module with the powerful launch.
On the kick plate the 911 felt a lot harder to control because of the heavier backend. I had to counter steer much faster. After one practice I was able to keep the car under control pretty easily.
On the dynamic pad I started doing figure 8, which felt much better than doing donut. I didn’t get any motion sick from the figure 8. On one end of “8” I could feel I was drifting, with the car sideways and the screaming from tires. As Nikita said, screaming tires are happy tires. I was feeling really good to keep the car going sideway. On the other end of “8” I felt understeer, which was intended because Nikita wanted me to go full throttle before reaching the end, and having understeer meant I was carrying too much speed into the turn. I was definitely freak out on the first time of understeer. But I could quickly adapt and carried less speed into the turn. The dynamic pad was really fun!
We also did all the other modules (except ice hill because I didn’t like it), as well as the handling course. We were driving faster on the track this time, but I didn’t think it reached the limit of 911 yet. Most of this session was still on low friction modules, to experience the difference between 911 and 718. The last 2 sessions would focus on reducing lap time on the track, especially session 4.
Session 3 – 911 GT3
This session was designed to get me prepared for the last session. So it’d have more track time, less time on low friction modules. Nikita asked me what I’d like to do. I said I wanted to experience the car GT3 on the low friction modules, and then focus on getting prepared for the track. Nikita said it was a perfect plan.
The low friction modules were fun but it mostly felt similar to the last session. However, we spent a lot more time on the dynamic pad, where Nikita introduced me the concept “trail braking“. In first session, Nikita introduced “Theory 1“, meaning on every turn, drivers should do exactly 1 braking, 1 turn, and then 1 acceleration. Drivers shouldn’t switch back and forth on brake and throttle. We did a few laps on the track, and we made sure I was comfortable going full throttle on the straight line. Then we moved to the dynamic pad, and that was where my nightmare began…
To be able to trail braking, I should go full throttle first, before entering the turn. On the dynamic pad which isn’t super big, I had problem with going full throttle. And on the end of figure 8, where I could keep the car sideways in session 2, I couldn’t do it with the GT3. It was a track weapon, so it was optimized not to be so easy to go oversteer. And on the other end of figure 8, I ran into cones because of understeer. I completely lost control of the car, fortunately I didn’t freak out and stopped it immediately. There was a cone stuck under the car and I felt really bad about it. Nikita had to take it out. After that I started to really think about “trail braking”, and tried to focus on braking before entering the corner. I definitely got better and better at that, and I started feeling better too. However, after so many laps of figure 8, I had serious motion sickness. But that was already at the end of the session. So we went back to the meeting room and did debriefing. I took a picture with the iconic GT3:
Nikita told me to take Dramamine before the next session, as it’d be 4 hour non stop racing and practicing on the dynamic pad. He also gave me homework to do: remember the name of every corner on the track, so it’d be a lot easier for us to analyze the data next session. Here is the map:
Session 4 is the most exciting one. I’ll use the whole next post on it.