Monday 22 May 2006

Upcoming: Marvellous Festival 2006

Just bought tickets for the Marvellous Festival coming up on Saturday, July 22nd - featuring cover bands of Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Santana. This will be the third year we've gone. Wanna join us?

Thursday 18 May 2006

How To Corner A Porsche 911?

It's a question that's been on my mind ever since I got the 993 a few years ago.

Going straight is, of course, not complicated. The only thing I can tell you is that there's no point revving the engine and dropping the clutch. A factory standard non-turbo engine dies doing that. As for braking, it's worthwhile learning to toe-heel well and keep the car balanced as you slow down.

But the correct way to take a corner is open to more debate. The huge weight of the engine behind the car's centre of gravity makes this a critical question. While this offers tremendous traction in the rear, it leaves the front-end very light.

Beginner track drivers are warned to always brake in a straight line but Vic Elford in the "Porsche High Performance Driving Handbook" explains that you should gradually ease the brake off right up to the apex. This makes sense in order to keep the weight on the front wheels as long as possible. This is called "trail braking".

A friend and I went to the Trackdays event up at Rockingham (very quickly in his 996). It was a nice event but unfortunately it was poorly attended. At a near empty seminar, I was able to pose this question to Mike Wilds who is a very accomplished race car driver and instructor. It turns out he also owns a Porsche 911. Here are some of his comments.

  1. Look up and through the corner. Don't watch your dials.

  2. Toe-heel brake smoothly up to the turn-in point. Position is key.

  3. Make a single turn of the steering wheel ("commitment") avoid steering adjustments

  4. Never turn hand over hand. If you must, slip the wheel through one hand keeping the position of the other.

  5. Don't bother driving fast until you can consistently drive the race line well hitting a perfect tangent at the apex.

  6. "slow in, fast out" - enter the corner slower than you might think and gradually increase power all the way out. If the car is understeering, you're entering the corner too fast.

As for trail braking, he believed it wasn't really needed. This agrees with the "point and shoot" description I've heard for driving a 911. But he did say it was fine to trail brake but the technique was to apply the throttle at the turn-in point while still keeping the brake on up to the apex. Using both at the same time was a new idea for me.

This obviously calls for a trackday to try some of these things out.

Trebuchet at Warwick Castle

Another trip we did over the Easter weekend was to visit Warwick Castle and enjoy their medieval weekend.

They invite numerous different medieval re-enactment groups to camp on the grounds on the castle and demonstrate daily medieval life. The groups were highly authentic and it made for a splendid atmosphere. Warwick was a large gathering but the top re-enactment event of the year, I was told, is the Battle of Bosworth each August.

The two highlights of the day were an re-enactment of a battle and the firing of the trebuchet. The re-enactment was a little hokey but good fun. Particularly impressive was the large number of longbowmen firing at the soldiers. Longbowmen were the backbone of the  English armies and responsible for much of their success.

But what we really wanted to see was the firing of the 18m tall trebuchet. If you've ever played the computer game "Age Of Kings", you'll have a warm spot for trebuchets. They're the killer weapon of the period. At Warwick, we were treated to the launching of a real fireball too. It worked very well.