This past weekend was my first “real” track day with the MR2 Spyder.  Following numerous mechanical issues, such as the coolant leaks, I finally had the car sorted enough to attempt a full track weekend.  I had recently taken the car to TWS for an Open Track Day, which wasn’t that productive other than getting the brakes bedded in.  It had revealed that the alignment was completely out of whack, which anyone could see just using their Mk-1  Eyeball.  So I had it aligned locally to -3.0F and -2.5R camber, with zero toe on the front and just a smidgen of toe-in on the rear.  The results were pretty dramatic, the car was now “driveable”.  That said, it was still very prone to oversteer, especially under braking.  I had to unlearn my trail-braking technique that was so critical with the M Coupe, and only brake in a straight line.  Any amount of braking with steering input would result in a horrific tail swing.

MR2 chased by Porsche 911All the car photos can be found here.

Most of Saturday was spent just getting used to the car’s tendencies, and relearning the proper line.  I’ve only driven the 3.1 configuration once before, and that was as a Green student in the M Coupe.  I was now in the Yellow run group, and soloing most of the time.  My instructor rode with me two sessions on Saturday, which was very helpful, other than the car being so damn loud that we couldn’t really hear each other on throttle.  He rode again with me one session on Sunday, and I even took a ride with him in a rental Camaro SS.  After the Spyder, the Camaro was like riding a Lazy Boy around the track.  Of course it’s handling was more akin to the M Coupes, requiring trailbraking to set the front and get it to rotate.

Here’s a video of my final session on Sunday, where I set my best time of 2:35.  That’s over 13 seconds faster than what I did in the M Coupe.  I’m not sure that’s very impressive, given that I’m now on NT01 tires and have a much better power-to-weight ratio.  Watch the entire video to see how the rear continues to get looser as the session goes on.  The heat was really building in the rears more than the front.

All in all it was a very fun weekend and a great learning experience.  I know I have a lot of things to work on, and the car needs a little help in the suspension setup department.  I really need to increase the grip at the rear end.  With the new square setup, the car easily (too easily much of time) rotates.  The front end goes wherever the steering wheel points it, with absolutely no hint of understeer.  That’s a huge difference when compared to the M Coupe.  I also need to get a better feel for the shifter action.  The gates are tighter, which can make mis-shifts easy.  The engine also has to be spun up to really produce power, which necessitates more shifts and use of 2nd gear in slow corners.  Hopefully I can get the car to another OTD or some other test n’ tune session to work on setup.


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