The first solo of the season was today… and it was soaking wet. With a full year of events behind me in this car, I was a bit surprised to realize at the days beginning, that it was going to be my first opportunity to really flog the car in wet conditions.
I have always loved driving in the rain… but for whatever reason, I found the idea of doing it in the FRS a little intimidating at first.
The car really doesn’t have great steering feel IMO. Yes all the magazines have raved about the cars steering. It does have a great weight, and the steering wheel itself feels excellent to the touch… but as far as communicating what the front tires are doing, I don’t find it at all comparable to other cars that have been in the stable. Considering that the car is wearing the biggest front sway bar commonly available, and tends hard to understeer… poor steering feedback seems like a major compromise when grip levels are low and force feedback is reduced even more than normal.
And, the car was on fairly worn and wide RE-71R’s… which don’t have the greatest reputation for working in cold and wet weather… I was a little uncertain.
But in the end all was fantastic, and I was very comfortable (though not entirely fast) making the car move and dance around out on course. With lower grip levels, 120lbft of torque is much more useful for adjusting the cars attitude. The natural forward weight bias, and my big Hotchis sway bar inspire confidence when the rear end steps out suddenly and you want to continue powering through elements.
On another note, due to some rushed timing, we were forced to make a couple of runs before the car was warm enough to activate the “dance mode.” For the first time ever we made some runs with just traction off and VSC sport activated. I was disappointed by how much stability control still kicks in, activating brakes on specific corners of the car to straighten it out. It made driving seem almost fool-proof, which might be a plus for some, but really ruined the experience for me.
Maybe I should have played around with it a bit more, and tried to learn how to push the car while staying within the boundaries tolerated by the computer, but instead we just did the dance and instantly went 1.5 seconds faster.
Although still not fast enough…