Track Day 2
New Impressions Project Red Baron left off with a round of freshly installed modifications just waiting for some track testing. We installed a set of KW Variant 3 Coilovers to firm up the suspension. IE MK5 / MK6 camber plates were used to connect those to the body in a solid, adjustable fashion. Porterfield R4S street pads was added in order to give the stock brakes a bit more bite, and the OE fluid was flushed for the now illegal ATE Blue Racing fluid. Finally, we threw on a set of VMR V718 wheels with very, very sticky Toyo R888 rubber. A quick canyon blast confirmed these modifications to be very canyon worthy- but we had been waiting to get it out to the road course.
The track brings parts to their knees in a fashion that literally no other environment on earth can. From the first corner, it was clear that our Project Red Baron was hugely transformed by the parts we had installed. Grip levels have increased tremendously. The Toyo R888 tires are technically R compound racing tires, so after a few corners they start getting sticky and you can really hammer the car through the corners. This level of grip would have greatly exceeded the original suspensions ability to control the body, but the KW Variant 3 suspension handled it very well. The car is well balanced and even pounding it over curbing and rumble strips does not upset the chassis like it might with lesser setups. It's perhaps very slightly soft for pure road race use. However, it's a great compromise because any firmer would be irritating on the street. The wizards at KW have done a masterful job of balancing these conflicting demands.
Looking at our tire wear and temperatures- it is clear that the IE MK5 / MK6 camber plates are absolutely necessary for anyone who plans on doing any track time, or even for heavy duty canyon carving. With the maximum amount of camber allowed by the stock shock tower sheet metal, our tire wear and surface temperatures were very even. These plates also afforded a much higher degree of road feel through the steering wheel then would normally be transmitted by the rubber based OEM strut mounts. Without these plates the outside edge of the front tires would be overloaded. Cornering forces and grip would be decreased and tire wear would increase.
The only part which we immediately concluded needed further upgrading for our moderate to heavy track use is the brake system. While the Porterfield R4S pads gave a significant increase in stopping power on the street, the amount of heat generated on the track was clearly outside of their useful range. At one point we managed to create enough brake smoke at the end of the straightaway to actually arouse the concern of a corner worker. This setup held up better then stock but still required serious care and nursing to avoid total brake fade. It became clear that we had a choice, to either install a set of dedicated track pads to the front axle, which is totally unusable on the street, or to install a larger set of front brakes.
In the end, we have partnered with AP Racing brakes. AP Racing is one of the oldest racing brake suppliers in the world, and supplies a huge majority of winning F1, Nascar, and Le Mans race cars with brake calipers and rotors. We are now an authorized AP Racing distributor, and we quickly installed their MK5 / MK6 big brake kit, which consists of 2 piece fully floating 330 x 28mm vented brake rotors with billet aluminum hats, AP Racing 4 piston brake calipers, and all the lines, pads, and brackets to bring it all together. These brakes bolted on in approximately 2 hours with only very small modifications to the dust shields required for clearance. Immediately it is apparent the car has vastly more stopping power then any setup we have tested with the OEM rotors and calipers. They should be large enough to soak up the high amounts of heat generated by the two large braking zones at our local track. In addition to that, we have started working on two air deflectors for the front A arms which will seriously increase air flow to the front rotors. The rear rotors were also shot at this point, galled and grooved from pads which had totally glazed over. We replaced those with a set of Stillen slotted rotors and Mintex F3R race pads. In the future, if the rear brakes are still a problem we might consider an upgrade to the larger Golf R parts.
Our final track observation is that the chassis is now screaming for more power! With the OE tires and suspension, it was very possible to scrub the front tires coming out of corners. With this setup, the car is 100% hooked up coming out of every corner, begging for more power to put to the ground. This truly is a case of the capabilities of the chassis exceeding those of the engine. It's about time we get to work on the engine side of things with this car and that will be coming in future updates. The car could also really use some engine note. It's an odd sensation to not be able to hear the engine over the large R compound tread blocks hammering down on the pavement. A taste of future electric vehicles perhaps. A B&B 3" cat back exhaust should solve that strange disconnect soon!
Check back soon for some track video!
-Peter Blais Technical Director and Chief of Engineering Integrated Engineering
Search our website for the parts we used in this segment: