Saturday, October 18, 2014

McLaren MP4-12C: My first track impressions

This week, I got a chance to take the McLaren to a couple of track day events in Northern California: one at Sonoma Raceway and the other at Laguna Seca. My initial impression: I am wowed!!  At Sonoma, my first time on track with the new car, wearing stock street tires (Pirelli Pzero), I managed to beat my best time ever in my highly track-modified Cayman S.  I was a good 8 seconds faster around Sonoma than with the Cayman and I was not pushing the McLaren nearly as hard at all.  Keep in mind I have been racing that Cayman for 3 years!

A few days later at Laguna Seca, I bested my Cayman times again, this time by only a few seconds (1:41 in the McLaren vs 1:45 in the Cayman).  Again, not pushing the Mclaren very hard,a nd I know I can drop that time by 4-5 seconds.  I know it will handle more entry speed in the corners so I'm sure I am over-slowing and depending on the car's acceleration out of the corner to make up for it.  That's ok, it makes for a safer first experience.  I also took a few minutes to go out on the skid pad and try to break the car loose in some drifting to see how well I can control the car with steering and throttle inputs.  It went pretty well - the car is amazingly balanced. With traction control turned off, the rear end breaks loose easily with all that 600+ HP!  My flailing around caused one instructor to come over to see if I was a complete idiot or if I was actually trying to cause the car so much upset.  Nice guy, Pete, a very experienced race car driver and coach.  I then took him around the track for a session and he was amazed at the car's abilities - it never fails to blow people away what you can do with this car on track!