Fast Car Festival 2012: Zandvoort, Holland
Date: 16th-17th June 2012
The Team Milltek GTR trip to Zandvoort, which is on the west coast of Holland, overlooking the North Sea, started in a different way this weekend, as different members of the Team would get to this seaside town in a different ways. The apple green GTR R35 would be in the back of the Redbrick Racing transporter being expertly driven by Will and going across to Europe on the Euro Tunnel, Adie, Rich and Jon would be in the black Range Rover Sport fitted with the new Milltek exhaust system, going from Dover To Calais on P & O Ferries and Phil and Steve were flying in from Heathrow to Schiphol airport so the Team would not be fully together until first thing Sunday morning.
Preparation, strategy and scrutineering
Sunday morning dawned with a Gale Force 6 wind blowing in off the sea, but the sky contained more blue than cloud and although the wind would blow some sand onto the track, this was a much better problem than heavy rain showers. In fact, the weather got better as the day progressed and by the time the final came around the sun had come out and was warming the tarmac nicely.
The Team was at the track side pit garages for 7am local time, and the pre-race process started...Check all fluid levels, warm the engine, check tyre pressures and then over to the scrutineering bay which the car went through without incident. Once fully scrutinised, the GT-R had its radio transponder fitted and was then placed back into the garage ready for the 20 minute open pit-lane practice session which kicked off at 9am.
First time out on the 2.6 mile (4.3 km) track with its 13 corners and it was soon very apparent that this circuit suited the GTR's weight and staggering performance, long sweeping corners with a very long start / finish line. As the massive Toyo 888's came up to temperature, the times started to fall so the GTR was brought back into the pits for a tyre pressure check and wheel balance in preparation for the qualifying session at 11am.
most drivers like to weave across the track F1-style, whereas the GTR, with its 1750kg of heft, can generate enough heat in the tyres by just driving the track!
With over 20 cars out on track at the same time is was imperative that we got out early and as the pit lane lights turn to red for the starter session the GTR was out of the garage and on its way to the end of the pit lane. Unfortunately great minds think alike and we were beaten by a few of the other competitors who were right at the start of the pit lane. No worries, we would just have to pass them before the end of the first warm up lap.
Lights to Green
Rich Marshall, Team Milltek GTR's driver, gunned the GTR out onto the track, passing two of the cars into the first corner. It seems that most drivers like to weave across the track F1-style to warm up their tyres, whereas the GTR, with its 1750kg of heft, can generate enough heat in the tyres by just driving the track! By the 5th corner the brakes were getting up to temperature as well and only the JD Motorsport white Golf was in front. The short straight just before the last long 180 degree corner gave the GTR enough room to dispense with the VW and a clear track was ahead.
The 963PS GT-R races using the off-the-shelf 90mm Milltek exhaust system
The first lap was used as a 'banker lap', fast but not on the absolute limit making sure that we had a good time on the score board in case of any problems on circuit or with the car - Rich obliged with a sub-2 minute time. Confirmation was given to him by Phil Millington over the radio but the in-car readout had told Rich seconds before, but there was more to come from the car because everything was at its perfect working temp and with a clear track the GTR was unleashed on the second flying lap. A 1:55.961 was recorded - enough to secure first place and the full 25 points.
With 2 hours to go to the final a well deserved cool down for the GTR and a bite to eat for the Team.
The Final: with new Tyres
With the next round of the UK Time Attack at Brands Hatch, Kent just around the corner, it was decided by all the Team that we should put the new Dunlop SP Sport 600's on the car as we needed valuable information on tyre pressures, wear rate and above all grip and longevity levels.
Being first in qualifying meant we were the first car out on track, but immediately Rich noticed that these tyres would take more time to 'scrub in' and get up to operating temperature. This allowed a few cars passed on the warm up lap. By the time the tyres were up to race temp, the car was on its 4th lap and still hadn't broken the 2 minute mark. Team Manager, Phil confirmed what Rich already knew on the radio, so the big push was on. On lap 5 it was obvious that a sub-2 minute was going to be impossible on the Dunlops and the best time was recorded on that 5th lap of 2:00.716 sec. The winning time of 1:59.338 coming from the VW Golf TDi of JD Motorsport.
Only 1 second split the first 4 cars with the Team Milltek GTR in 5th but with maximum points from qualifying gave the Team 3rd place overall.
Could the GTR have gone faster on the Toyo's, and would the Team have been able to repeat the qualifying times? Maybe...maybe not...but we will never know. Valuable tyre data has been gained for the next Time Attack round at Brands Hatch (8th July), and although apparently slightly slower the Dunlop tyres were able to give good, consistent lap times with virtually no drop off in performance over a set time and with very little wear.
By the time the Team reaches the Kent circuit on the 8th July it should have the new upgraded springs from KW and bigger front brake discs fitted.