Right, back to the cars, step one is the instructor getting you properly seated in the car. Proper seating position is fundamental to good driving as it allows proper articulation of the controls. If your reach to the steering wheel is not proper, it will negatively impact your ability to have precise steering inputs and reactions. Improper seating position is an extremely common issue at any track day I’ve attended, so it’s great to have a second set of eyes make sure you’re in the proper position.
Like I mentioned before, I have a pretty good chunk of track time under my belt, but I appreciate the refresher as we often forget the fundamentals. These instructors are faster than you, so leave your ego outside the car. Once properly seated, the instructor goes over what to expect on the track. Long story short, if you drive over your head, they will bring you in. A nice thing about the Exotics Racing driving experience is that the instructors will keep an eye out for possible faster traffic for you which frees you up to focus on driving. Of course, they will instruct you on the braking, turn-in, and proper line. Hey, all the top athletes across all sports still have coaches, so it never hurts having a second set of eyes to analyze your driving.
The road course is a tricky 1.2 mile, eight turn layout. Turn 1 requires hard braking at the end of the straight and patience as it is a bit of a late apex 135 degree left hander. It is critical to execute this corner correctly and stay tight to the left at corner exit as it leads into the quick Turn 2 right hander kink leading onto the longest straight. If you mess up turns 1 and 2, your speed down the straight will be sacrificed, costing you significant time. At the end of the straight, fairly heavy braking is required for the Turn 3 left-hander. You can actually carry a good amount of corner speed through Turn 3, so I had to resist the temptation to scrub off too much speed. Turn 3 is quickly followed by Turn 4 which is another greater than 90 degree left. This is another critical corner to get right as it leads onto a short straight. Turns 5 and 6 are a quick right-left chicane testing the car's stability in a quick transition. Making things even more interesting is the slight bump heading into Turn 5 which does its best to upset the car. Turn 7 is another high speed kink where you can probably carry more speed than you think you can. Shortly after the kink is a hard braking zone for the double apex Turn 8. More patience is required here to get the best drive onto the front straight.
The GT-R is the first car I’ve driven in the high horsepower spectrum. The next closest then was a C6 Vette when it first came out. After that, my turbo SE-R, Evo, and G35 all had around 300hp. So my closest frame of reference was probably my Evo being a turbo AWD car but with only a bit more than half the power of the GT-R. This was only my second time driving a car with paddle shift with the first being a Golf GTI a month ago. So, uh, sorta the same… Anyway, I left the car in all the base settings instead of the ‘R’ setting but opted for manual shift mode.
Making the right hander onto the track and getting into the throttle for the first time… WOAH! So that’s what a car making half a grand of horsepower feels like! The mid-range torque of the car is quite outstanding too. My CBR 600RR motorcycle has a lot of pull, but only once over 10k rpms which I imagine is a more Ferrari-esque type feel. The GT-R has torque everywhere which makes it easy to drive as being in the wrong gear is not so detrimental. It’s a vastly different driving experience from Project S2000.