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Oran Park Debriefing
20th October 2001

A big thank you to all who came out to Oran Park Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, especially all those who pitched in to work on the car when it needed a little attention, especially Theo for coming out only days after becoming a dad again (it's a boy!) - thanks guys!

For the rest of you, it went like this. Beaut sunny day. Plenty of sharks parked on the hill waving, but only my 928 competing. About 70 cars on the track, mainly from Porsche Club. Plenty of GT3s, RS Carreras, and very serious Porsche Cup cars. The water-cooled flag was being waved by myself (928S Auto), a 968, 924T, 944s, 944T. I'll leave out the water-cooled 996 and Boxsters, who probably didn't feel they should be categorised alongside my old beast. The balance were BMW club cars - M3s, 633, 635, 3-series. And a couple of Japanese ring-ins. 3 WRX's, ranging from stock to wild. And the obligatory, extremely fast, clubman car.

The notable thing was just how seriously well prepared they were. Cars running standard road tyres were in the minority. Almost everyone had "R"-spec rubber, if not slicks. I felt outgunned. After a first session that felt like I was on roller-skates (immediately traced to tyres that had swelled by 8psi as soon as I got on the track - to 48/53 psi!!), things were great. The right pressures for my RE711s was about 38/40 hot! So we let a full 10 pounds out and things were sweet after that. Engine, gearbox, suspension, brakes ran faultlessly all day, but my power-steering gave up completely on left-handers half way around the third session, which caused me a moment of concern as I shot down to the tight left-hand corner at Speedline. You know - the one before the straight with the massive concrete wall filling your vision. The car is drivable without power-steer, but you sure work hard. I don't think it compromised my times... much..

Tyres were OK this time. Last time (short circuit) I was badly overheating the outsides of the right-front within 4 laps. This time they were better, due to (1) wheel alignment with extra one degree of neg camber, and (2) the long circuit, being a figure-eight, distributes the wear more evenly and (3) pressures.

Brakes were great all day - just one soft pedal in the first session, but I was probably smoother, less aggressive later on. Until the last session, when "having a go" I swapped ends under brakes and left the circuit quite quickly (about 120kph). The blue smoke cloud was enormous, despite getting off the brake pedal. I'm getting good at spinning - I can get the lever into 'N' almost before I'm facing backwards!!

I did 5 sessions of 5 laps, the best probably being the third. My in-car video footage is pretty good (four cameras!) - I was still watching and editing it at 1 o'clock this morning - and I especially like the footage of catching and harrying a 3.2 Carrera who unfortunately refused to let me past. I didn't have the grunt to get past him cleanly on the straight (which was allowed), and you were only allowed to pass in other places if the driver in front waved you through. Which he (rudely I thought) didn't do, despite my arm waving. I think the times will show that I was 4 or 5 seconds a lap quicker before I was forced to sit behind him. Oh, he was on R-spec tyres too! I hope Len and I will find a way to get the best footage snippets onto the landshark site.

In my group (#3), I did pass more cars than passed me.. but some that passed me were damn quick, particularly one red Carrera and a red BMW 635Csi, both on race rubber. The (stock) WRX and I were pretty line-ball in the first session, but that was before I let my tyres down. Later on, I think him covered, but we didn't meet on the track again to find out. The RS-brigade and M3s are quicker by some margin, at the end of the day, the 928 would still be in the back half of the field. As the day went on, I got progressively braver, on occasions just to the point of recklessness but not beyond. By the end of the day, I found I could stay flat in 3rd up the hill from Suttons and right over the crest of the flip-flop at about 150+ kph. Earlier in the day I'd been only just redlining in 2nd there. The drifting, with some wheel spin, right to the wall at Speedline. You get this massive exhaust booming in the window when you go really close to the wall. It's a buzz! The kink at the end of the straight I never got right though. Ran out of courage. Braking from 185/190kph to about 155/160 for the kink, but on trailing throttle I could feel the back wanting to break away there, which was pretty spooky. I think I need wide rear rubber, and some more rear neg camber. And some of those R-spec tyres!

In summary, let me say that the 928 is still a fabulous track car. At 1550+ kg, too heavy really, but very easy to drive, and very progressive in its handling at, and beyond, the limit of adhesion. Even a 'stocker', like mine. Some of the 911s thought that I'd be stomping on them on the straight, but it ain't so. I think you'd need a GT or GTS to decisively stomp on a 911 with the 3.2 engine. You can power-slide the shark at will, and I found myself really enjoying the fact that it was so forgiving. If I apexed too early for a slow corner, I'd just stick the boot in a bit earlier, the tail would kick out, and we'd drift out (and sometimes over) the ripple strips.

This is SO much fun gang! And I found that many drivers out there just were not "getting stuck in" and getting their money's worth. O/Park GP (long) circuit is much better than the short circuit. - Sturat, '84 S Auto, RubinRot, Stock, Sydney, Australia.