The drtuned Racing 2002 Saab 9-5 Aero and Mazda 3 made their 2017 debut at Round 1 of the CACC Time Attack Championship this past Saturday. This year’s championship will consist of seven events from now until October: five races located at our local track on the mainland, and two on Vancouver Island. We’ve made many changes and improvements to the 9-5 after last year’s time attack, including some serious weight reduction and performance parts. This first event was about continuing to develop our driving, and demonstrate our car’s capabilities for the season ahead. Among these performance parts were a set of EBC Yellowstuff brake pads!!
We managed to get them installed the day before the event and give them a shakedown on the track. The days racing was split into three sessions: two practice sessions and one final timed session. The weather forecast for the day was calling for rain in the afternoon, which would make our practices dry and our timed laps very wet. We had two choices for tires on the Saab: Pirelli All-Season’s we drove to the track on, or some highly worn NT01 semi-slicks.
The first practice came very soon after our driver’s meeting, and left us without any time to swap our race tires on. Fortunately it was an untimed practice, and despite the tires getting very slick at the end of the session, it provided a good feel for the car’s natural handling characteristics. As you can see in this amazing photo by Martin’s Action Photography, I was working the brand new suspension kit and EBC brake pads very hard in the first session.
At the end of the 20 minutes and several cool down laps, the heat radiating off the front brake rotors was even hotter than the turbo. The initial thought upon giving the air a whiff, was that I had once again cooked my brake pads. However closer inspection determined that it was the iconic yellow paint of the EBC Yellowstuff pads bubbling off and the rust proofing on the new rotors burning off. Nothing like the smell of burning VOC’s at a race track.
The second session went much better, we were able to install the race tires and drop 10 seconds off our previous session times for a 1:25 lap time. With this setup we were a mere 5 seconds off the fastest pace in our class, with at least another 2 seconds within easy reach with additional aggression. The remainder will come through seat time and experience this season. The rain finally settled in around 2pm, and by the time our timed laps arrive around 4:30 the track was thoroughly soaked and the well worn NT01’s simply didn’t have the side grooves needed to handle the water. Our All-Seasons just didn’t cut it unfortunately, and we achieved a 4th place class finish for 5 championship points with a 1:50 lap time.
This was a good five seconds faster than our previous rainy time attack, which is good to see an overall improvement since then. The real results were in our second practice, and that’s what we went out to find. With a 1:23 lap time within reach already, we should have some great results by the end of this championship series. We also know our new suspension and brakes are up to the task, and we were very pleased with how the EBC Yellowstuff pads performed. We’ll be looking into obtaining more braking power this season, and will hopefully find a setup that works well for our current and future power levels. Negative camber is something we severely lacked, and you can easily see that in the photographs from the day. We’ll be looking into getting some components installed before our next event in June and squeeze even better lap times out of the car.