Getting on track with your Porsche
Visiting some of the UK's most notable circuits, our trackdays offer members the opportunity to explore the true capabilities of their Porsche
With Porsche Club trackdays you can forget about the restrictions of the public road and enjoy your Porsche in a safe and controlled environment. Above all, they provide an opportunity for owners to have fun and enjoy their cars at a speed they find comfortable. There is never any pressure to go faster, just to enjoy the experience.
For those who have not attended a Porsche Club trackday before, this guide is intended to help you make the most of your day. All drivers will have to attend a compulsory briefing before they are allowed onto track, so it is always sensible to arrive for signing-on in plenty of time.
Our days are not in the least bit competitive and anybody found timing, or being timed, will be asked to vacate the venue. Even so, the cars (and the drivers) can encounter higher stresses than would ordinarily be encountered on the road. For this reason, it is important that drivers are satisfied the car is up to the task. Unless the car has been serviced very recently, it is advisable to get it checked prior to taking it on a trackday.
Circuits are coming under increasing pressure from local residents and various environmental groups regarding noise issues. Some circuits have more difficulties than others and therefore are required to operate to differing noise limits. Most of the circuits used by the Club operate to a static noise limit of 105dBA. This will usually mean that all standard equipment Porsches should not have a problem, even the Weissach models. All cars will be required to pass a noise test before they are allowed on track and instructions on where to go will be provided on the day.
Hard use of the brakes will increase the temperatures to which components are subjected. Pads, which are getting low, may struggle to cope with the extra heat and ‘brake fade’ may result. Thin (worn) discs may be prone to distortion if used to extremes. Brake fluid may need to be changed as it absorbs moisture over time, leading to a spongy pedal under hard use. It is recommended that brake fluid should be changed at least every two years. A high temperature fluid (DOT4 or 5) is advisable (standard on later model Porsches). Our brake technology partner (PFC Brakes, telephone 01295 221020) can offer a range of brake components and upgrades or just high temperature brake fluids for those who want to improve their car’s braking capability even further.
Are they in good physical condition with no damage to sidewalls? If the tread is low, this may improve the feel of the car and its stability under dry conditions, but if it rains you may find yourself in trouble. As with all things in life, this element relies on compromise. Brand new tyres will feel ‘slippery’ until they have bedded in and the deep tread blocks may make the car feel ‘fidgety’ when cornering hard. Generally, Porsche tyre pressures do not need to be increased for track use. In fact for some models (later 911s in particular), you will need to lower the rear pressures, perhaps by 6-8lbs or more, depending how hard the car is being driven and how much heat is being generated within the tyres.
As a general rule of thumb – until you know that you need to change tyre pressures, leave them standard. A mix of tyre makes on the car is not to be recommended and may lead to strange handling characteristics, particularly when driven hard. Driving quickly on a circuit will use the tyres harder than normal, but wear will not be excessive unless driven erratically. Quick driving means using the grip, not exceeding it or sliding the car around. The edges of the tread blocks will ‘feather’ slightly, but normal road driving will tend to flatten them off again.
You should make sure that all unnecessary and loose items are removed from the car, preferably before you set off for the circuit, as this avoids a job on the day. Loose contents can fly around inside the car under braking and cornering and are therefore a potential danger. This applies equally to mobile phones, which should be switched off to avoid distractions. Hand-held cameras will not be allowed and neither will any form of time-keeping. The use of timing equipment will see that driver sent home.
Some circuits offer fuel ‘on-site’, but it is usually less expensive to fill up before arriving at the circuit. You may not be able to get ‘super unleaded’ at the track. Your car will consume more fuel than you imagine when driven hard on a circuit, therefore arrive with at least half a tank to save time-consuming journeys to the pumps.
Note: as a rule, more fuel in a 911 allows for more ‘turn-in’ to corners and reduced understeer.
Engines used at high revs may consume more oil than under normal use. If necessary, bring a can to top up if you know the engine is consuming oil. Do not over-fill the engine oil and, for 911 models, keep it no higher than ¾ mark on the dipstick. Any higher and it may overflow when hot and the oil expands. The resulting mess is embarrassing (for the driver) and may lead to the car being taken off-track. It is also advisable to check the transmission oil before the event.
To a greater or lesser degree these points can also apply for road use. For example, extreme geometry settings or mixing of tyres will lead to inconsistent or erratic handling whether driven on the road or on a track. In addition, personal safety is of great importance and, for that reason, the following points need to be observed:
A crash helmet must be worn at all times when a driver or passenger is on the track. These do not need to be to the latest racing standard, but they must be in good condition. Helmets can be hired from the Club for just £10.
It is not necessary to wear special clothing, but (for reasons of safety, not modesty) arms and legs must be covered at all times. Therefore, shorts or short-sleeved shirts are not acceptable, whatever the weather.
All drivers will be required to show their driving licence when signing on before the event. This is not to check how many points you have, but to ensure you are able to drive a car legally. Regrettably, no licence – no track time and no refund!
Some insurance companies will extend road risk cover to include Club organised trackdays. Check with your insurance company or broker and stress there is ‘no competition element’ to the day. Some companies can offer ‘one-off’ accident cover for these events and we will send contact details with joining instructions, but your own insurer is probably the least expensive route. This is something worth considering when your road risk policy is due for renewal. Taking out a cheap policy which does not cover trackdays, will undoubtedly result in significantly higher costs to get trackday insurance cover later on. If in doubt, speak with our insurance partner, Lockton on 0845 602 9420.
All drivers and passengers going on circuit will be required to complete a number of insurance indemnity forms. These will be sent out with the joining instructions and should be brought to signing on, completed, to save time. These days, most circuits will also require their own indemnity form to be completed.