With 1400 miles on the car, the engine exercised through its full load and rpm ranges, and two oil changes in, I thought it was time to do some track time. With the Cayman being my first mid-engine car, I need to learn how to drive this thing. My first track car was my FWD Nissan SE-R. Then I went to an AWD Evo 8 followed by the RWD S2000. I drove Caymans at the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles a couple times, but that was more having fun rather than really getting to learn and push the car. Plus, I wanted to see how all the car’s systems held up stock.
Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles has a cool thing where Porsche owners can take their own cars on the track during the afternoon of the third Thursday of each month. I was able to access the main road course, the auto-x section, the kick plate, and the wet hill. You are assigned an instructor and Mike Kang of CounterSpace Garage showed me the ropes for the afternoon. He also happened to be my instructor way back when I drove a Ferrari 458 at Exotics Racing. The format is lead-follow, so Mike was in the yellow Cayman. Everyone started off on the auto-x course and it was my first time launching the car. I’ll tell you what, doing a hard launch in this car is not the easiest thing because there’s not much feel in the clutch pedal; I guess that’s how F1 drivers feel actuating the clutch with a lever on the steering wheel. Every day driving moving away from a stop is no big deal as the 2.0L turbo has plenty of torque and good throttle response off idle, but trying to modulate cleanly at higher loads is taking some practice. Anyway, first launch, I bogged it a bit. The second launch, I feel I got it down pretty good slipping the clutch at around 4k rpms, but it felt super abusive on the clutch. I don’t plan on hard launching the car again.
What else did I experience on the auto-x course? The car understeers everywhere. Lifting off the throttle reduces understeer while getting on the throttle just pushes the car wide. This is basically like my old FWD Nissan. This is no surprise though as the vast majority of cars are setup from the factory to understeer to keep overzealous drivers from killing themselves. The car has very little negative camber from the factory and a lot of rear tire for the relatively low 300hp.
That all said, I still managed to pull 1.20g’s lateral going both left and right. 1.29g on the brakes was coming to a full stop on the auto-x course and the 0.85g acceleration was during the launch. Oh, I found something that fits well in the origami cup holder.
I brought my little FLIR camera that attaches to my phone. I should have checked the sensor range first as the upper limit was not even close to being able to handle the rotor temps. But I could measure the brake caliper with the front coming in at 106C. The rear calipers were 85C; remember I deactivated the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) which actuates the inside rear brake to get the front to turn-in at the expense of extra brake wear and temperature. But since I turned off PTV, the rear brakes were not too hot.
What I was causing to run hot were the front tires! Mike noticed after a few laps that I ran wide in a high-speed right-hand kink, so we took the opportunity to come off the road course so I could take the brake temperatures coming off the track hot. Mike had me touch the tires so I could feel how much warmer the fronts were than the rears which were only 40C. He explained to me that getting on the throttle during corner exit shifted the weight rearward which just caused the front to push more and generate more heat in the front tires. On stock suspension parts and alignment that is.