2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Back on Track
May 1, 2014
First, it's loud. Second, even this Z51 package doesn't have big enough brakes for this kind of all-out use.
So I adjusted my driving habits in later sessions.
The noise ordinance issue was pretty simple. I short-shifted from Turn 5 to Turn 6 and I never had another problem with the Sound Police the rest of the two days.
As for the overheating brakes, I did two things: I started braking sooner and less hard, and when I'd feel the pedal start to get long and soft somewhere around halfway through the session, I'd take a lap or two and go easy, cooling things off, and then usually I could go hard for the remainder of the session.
Did I want to have to do either of these things? No. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Things aren't always going to work perfectly.
I also fiddled with the Vette's PTM system (Performance Traction Management). I stayed in the top two levels, Sport 2 and Race (or Perf Trac 4 and Perf Trac 5, respectively). While these two fully disable the stability control system, they keep the traction control active. With the cool temps (50s-60s) and our worn tires, the traction control was pretty active.
I also did a session with PTM turned off. You obviously can't be as ham-footed with the gas pedal, especially with 460 horsepower on tap, but the C7 Vette was still manageable. That said, this car keeps you extremely alert when you're driving it on the edge. You can feel that if things were to start going badly, (meaning spinning out), they'd do so quickly, especially when you're dialing power back in exiting Laguna's infamous Turn 6 dip, and through Rainey Curve as well. But being on the edge is what track driving is all about, and it was exhilarating for sure.
And it turns out doing both car and moto sessions is tiring! With only four run groups total (two car, two bike), I would get a session break in between each session. Needless to say, there was lots of changing in and out of my moto leathers, boots and gloves.
So how much crossover is there between car and bike? For me, not as much as you might think, at least in terms of the actual technique of driving and riding. What I mean is, when I'm out there in the car, I pretty much never think, "Hey, why am I not doing this particular thing on the bike?" Or vice-versa.
In most corners you run pretty similar lines, but the bikes have more room to work with because they are so much narrower. I was running the double-apex line through Andretti Haripin (Turn 2) on the bike just like I do in the car.
What I definitely don't do is run up on Laguna's pretty-serious corner-exit rumble strips anywhere near as much on the bike as I do in the car. And Turn 1, the over-a-crest left-hander, is a true turn on a bike, and it can become a tank-slapper if your front wheel gets light. Which is why I run a steering damper on my bike now.
With so much more going on with your body on the bike than in the car, you experience extremely different sensations. The biggest crossover between the two is a need to be smooth. It's utterly critical on the bike, as they can be upset easily and you only have two tires to work with.
If you can be smooth on a bike, quite often you end up being smooth in a car, too.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 17,350 miles
(track pictures courtesy Photography by David Wong)