2013 Scion FR-S: Track Day Road Trip, Part IV
February 7, 2013
It was a gamble. I had checked the forecast regularly in the days leading up to our Laguna Seca track weekend, and the outlook was consistently dismal. So much so that there was no sense bothering with high-performance brake pads. Normally, this is the second thing you change for a track outing in an otherwise stock car, the first being tires. So, I left the stock brake pads on our long-term 2013 Scion FR-S.
And as you've seen, the track was sopping wet. I felt vindicated in my decision to be apathetic.
Then the sun came out. And a dry line began to form on the track surface. And for a time, pretty much the whole track dried out. The twitchy, traction-devoid, edgy FR-S I knew in the rain made way for a far different animal. These Yokohama Advan AD08 tires rule in the dry. Communicative, beautifully progressive breakaway, heaps of grip. Exit speeds climbed. Braking points were adjusted.
It took roughly two hot laps in the dry for the brakes to go limp. The braking power underfoot just went into the ether as the overheated stock pads' coefficient of friction dropped like a rock. If you had told me that you'd secretly swapped my brake pads with sintered Folger's coffee grounds, I'd have believed you.
My first indication that the brakes had thrown in the towel was in the braking zone for turn 2, the hardest braking zone on the track. I went for the pedal and it returned with an indifferent, tepid buffing — not a scrub — of speed. Yipes. So I gently pointed the car's nose inward to stretch the braking zone deeper into the corner. This of course meant the turn had been blown, but it's a better alternative than tossing the car into the dirt.
Driving in these dry conditions became an exercise in brake management. Drive fast enough to work the tires and have fun but not so aggressively that you miss half your session trying to cool off the brakes.
Within these bounds, the FR-S was a blast. Its precision is a joy, and with just these tires on appropriately-sized Volk Racing TE37SL wheels it boasts the capability to run comfortably with ostensibly "faster" cars. This chassis is really a peach. I'm smitten. Now to find some real brake pads...
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor