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samoht
December 4th, 2016, 04:17 AM
Well, after 19 years behind the wheel, I had my first accident on Friday.

On the upside, I'm unhurt, no-one else was involved, and it happened on a track-day, so the police won't be involved, and I did have trackday insurance cover.

On the downside, it was the FD, and it hit the tyre wall quite hard, so it's quite badly damaged.


I've had the FD on track a few times in the four years I've had it, but have been bedevilled with problems with the operation of the twin turbos, brake fade / pads decomposing, and air and water temps. Finally this year the turbos were working, I had Carbon Lorraine pads, an FMIC, and it was a cold December day. Everything was in place.


The track was a bit slippery at first, but I felt my way into it. Level-pegging a 996 GT3 down the straight was fun, I was close enough to learn from his entry speed and line into Paddock. I had a few slides getting on the power out of corners, but felt I was starting to get on top of the handling and the lines. There wasn't too much traffic, and I had a lot of fun.

I always like to be on track at the end of the day, it's the quietest time so more likely to get some clear laps, and you can build on what you've learned. I went out about quarter to four for a last session (day ended at four), felt my way back into it and found I still seemed to have decent grip.

Then, coming out of Graham Hill (the left-hander at the bottom of the hill which is the third corner on the track), I got on the power in 3rd as usual, and the back came out. For a moment I thought I had it under control, then suddenly I was broadside across the track. I spun about 135 degrees, left the track on a 45 degree trajectory to the left, car broadside, crossed the damp grass and hit the tyrewall first with the right front, then the right rear corners.

Sitting in the car, I had no idea how bad it was, so I waited for them to red-flag the session and come and get me. I managed to limp back into the pits, but realised that one front wheel was no longer connected to the steering rack, so had to call for recovery.

After hanging around for almost four hours after everyone else had left, a truck finally arrived. I had them take it to the specialist I normally use, rather than home, because I wouldn't be able to do anything with it at my house.


I heard from the garage yesterday; the sideways hit at the front has bent the front chassis legs slightly sideways. Apart from that, the front wing is quite dented, the rear quarter is very crumpled and will need replacing, and the drivers' door is slightly damaged in a few places. As far as I can tell, the engine and driveline is fine. They say it's totally fixable, will put the car on a jig to get the front legs straight, but will be quite a lot of work ('easily 5k'). So she will probably be back on the road eventually, and hopefully insurance will cover the bulk of the cost.


I feel bad, because I am quite attached to my FD, and also because it feels bad to damage a car that's arguably becoming a classic. On the other hand, they come alive at nine tenths, the interactivity of the inter-relation between throttle, brake and steering makes getting each corner right an engaging challenge, working with the weight transfer to make the car dance. The relatively soft springs and short wheelbase (for a 340hp car on AD08s) is all part of this, I think. What I mean is, that while damaging an FD feels like a waste, it would also feel like a waste to own one and not to drive it to its full potential.

In retrospect I possibly drew too much confidence from having managed to handle previous slides, both on Friday and before. Looking back, previously I've probably had the back out in the last phase of corner exit, when I've already relieved much of the lateral load; so it's come round fairly slowly, and I've been quite able to control it on steering and/or throttle. When I crashed, the back really came around fast, and I think I just wasn't quick enough with the steering, hence veering off track to the left (the inside of the corner). I guess I must have had a lot more lateral load on than previously when I got on the power, hence why it spun. (First time I've spun any car, after four years of the FD and two S13s before it). Another factor may have been the sequential turbos transition, it's possible that the second turbo kicked in when I lost it, which is a little extra kick of power that probably made things worse.


So, definitely a learning experience. To be honest it's something I didn't really think could happen, losing control like this and damaging the car so badly. As a result I'm also rethinking how I want to enjoy cars in the future, this has been a bit of an unexpected negative surprise.


A pic from earlier in the day:
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ULoRwQY7Ick/WEQXMsjQJaI/AAAAAAAAPuw/lebu-t4LWHEHFHorAxln7txEYxk9qWEDgCL0B/w1598-h694-no/DSC_0068.JPG

Yw-slayer
December 4th, 2016, 04:39 AM
Sorry to hear about it, but as expected, you have taken it in your usual mature and thoughtful fashion. A bit of re-evaluation is natural and, I think, always useful. Take care mate!

Leon
December 4th, 2016, 08:54 AM
While it is a shame to bend a car (I've bent my race car a couple of times over about a decade of racing it), count your lucky stars that you have the insurance :)

Random
December 4th, 2016, 09:08 AM
1) Bummer.
2) Excellent summary of what may have gone wrong. Ditto to YW's comment. Kudos!
3) Happened on a track, not some sketchy B road with a van coming the opposite way, so that's a big plus. My first crash was on a back road in my parents' car. :(

CudaMan
December 4th, 2016, 10:02 AM
Cue Hamilton's "no no noooo" radio transmission. And then, what the three guys above have said. Glad you're well and taking it in stride. Get back on the horse when you're ready. Maybe take some drifting classes? :)

samoht
December 4th, 2016, 01:16 PM
Thanks for all the kind words, it's really appreciated.

& that goes double for kind words from someone who managed to navigate that corner many times in a powerful rwd car, without finding the tyres ;)


Yeah, I might look into opportunities to practice getting sideways with less to hit. I've always been concerned that drifting would overheat the engine, but it could probably stand a beginner session :) Can always watch the water temp on the Apexi.

Kchrpm
December 4th, 2016, 01:35 PM
At first this made me more wary of doing track days in a future major purchase, but your rational acceptance and learning makes me want to even more than before :up:

Also, the stability control on newer Corvettes is supposed to be really good at allowing some slip but saying "alright son, that's enough" before you get into tire munching situations.

Glad you're OK physically and mentally, and that your car and psyche should be rebuilt in reasonable time.

CudaMan
December 4th, 2016, 04:37 PM
& that goes double for kind words from someone who managed to navigate that corner many times in a powerful rwd car, without finding the tyres ;)
I've had a *bit* more practice I suspect. :) We've all been there. Back when I did track days in my own street-driven car I didn't go anywhere with walls close by the track, because I knew I'd be pushing my limits aiming to learn. I averaged one "off" per track day, safely scampering through the dirt. I wasn't brave enough to go to Laguna Seca back then - which is more like Brands in terms of the distance from the black stuff to the walls.


I've always been concerned that drifting would overheat the engine, but it could probably stand a beginner session :) Can always watch the water temp on the Apexi.
I'm not sure what the options are where you are, but something like a wet skidpad would be much easier on the engine and tyres. There also may be a drift school / experience that has their own cars and tires you can practice with. Or you could book an autotest session in a Caterham at Silverstone, or see what PalmerSport at Bedford has to offer for oversteer practice. Some of the guys at PalmerSport are current or past GTA instructors. :)

GB
December 4th, 2016, 06:36 PM
Glad you're OK.

On the materialistic side, I hope as much as you do that the track insurance holds it's end of the deal. Then, sometime in the Spring, get her back on a track!

FaultyMario
December 4th, 2016, 07:04 PM
Nothing much to add, glad you're OK. And glad that in the end it's gonna be a TON of learning for really not much cost involved.

thesameguy
December 4th, 2016, 09:32 PM
Can't offer anything that hasn't been said, and definitely sorry to hear about the, um, obstacle, but I agree - far better to enjoy the car as it was built to be enjoyed than just let it pull daily driver duty. You're okay, it's repairable, and you've got some fun miles on it. Definitely not ideal, but everything is gonna be a-ok in a bit! :)

novicius
December 5th, 2016, 04:08 AM
Repair it and fight with the insurance to keep the 'SALVAGE' tag off of the title. :up:

M4FFU
December 5th, 2016, 07:06 AM
Repair car, buy cheap skanky track car, sorted.

CudaMan
December 5th, 2016, 09:24 AM
Cheap and skanky doesn't seem like samoht's style. :)

21Kid
December 5th, 2016, 10:20 AM
Which would you rather drive? Cheap & Skanky or the FD? ;)

Kchrpm
December 5th, 2016, 10:34 AM
This reminds me of a line said by a young actress named Rachel Starr in an, um, independent short film, with a name I don't remember: "Fuck me harder, I'm not your girlfriend." Sometimes cheap & skanky gives you permission, directly or indirectly, to play a little rougher.

GB
December 5th, 2016, 01:04 PM
Best.

Analogy.

Ever.

samoht
December 5th, 2016, 01:18 PM
Haha, glad the GTX is still its normal self :D


To be fair, the FD was quite cheap when I bought it - I got it for 4.5k back in Nov 2012. It's worth quite a bit more than that now, although how much is a bit of an unknown. But yeah, I've always treated it as 'my girlfriend', so to speak ;)

Some of the trackdays I've been on are Mazda-themed, so I've seen a lot of MX-5s, and there's nearly always one or two cheap ones that are being driven with reckless abandon and end up in the tyres at some point, without wiping the grin off the driver's face. I dunno, it is a possibility but not top of my list at this point.

Godson
December 5th, 2016, 01:24 PM
Only way I'd own an mx-5 is with a rotary

Dicknose
December 5th, 2016, 03:27 PM
My last track day a guy destroyed a new AMG C63
That's a bad day.

neanderthal
December 5th, 2016, 07:09 PM
This reminds me of a line said by a young actress named Rachel Starr in an, um, independent short film, with a name I don't remember: "Fuck me harder, I'm not your girlfriend." Sometimes cheap & skanky gives you permission, directly or indirectly, to play a little rougher.

"... in an, um, independent short film ..."

He knocks it out of the park for a six!

neanderthal
December 5th, 2016, 07:10 PM
You're fine. That's all that matters. The car can be replaced.

But please, once you've fixed it, crash a track whore, not an FD.

SkylineObsession
December 5th, 2016, 08:40 PM
Good you're okay, sucks about the car but good that it isn't a write off!

This is kinda why i don't want to take my red Skyline out on the track - it's way too tidy to risk hitting a tyre wall or concrete/dirt wall. Or even a hay bale on a grass autocross. :(
I think motorsport insurance is quite rare over here, wifey may have had it a couple times when she was taking her Kawasaki around the track though.

Yw-slayer
December 5th, 2016, 09:54 PM
You're fine. That's all that matters. The car can be replaced.

But please, once you've fixed it, crash a track whore, not an FD.

I think he should continue to drive it on track days, but probably after more training. I wouldn't want it to become a mere daily driver or garage queen.

M4FFU
December 6th, 2016, 02:35 AM
Cheap and skanky doesn't seem like samoht's style. :)

Quite. I've a nice shiny sportsbike which I didn't want to crash at Brands Hatch, so bought something a 1/5th it's value that I'd not cry if I saw it skidding into Druids bend tyre wall.

The 'rethinking how I enjoy cars' is interesting. If you're not going to use a 450bhp RX7 to it's (I'm assumed you've done it since purchase) tuned potential, then why bother in the first place? I like a mechanical ornament as much as the next person, but seems an odd shout if you're just using it on a Sunny Sunday.

Mind you; I'd never go near a track in the winter anyway! ;)

KillerB
December 6th, 2016, 10:25 PM
Bummer. Glad you're okay, though :)