5 o’clock… the alarm is ringing and, even worse, today it’s Sunday… Sh.. why should I wake up 2 hours in advance compared to a working day for a hobby?
And it will be a long and tough day, I live in Modena and I will meet my friends at Bologna at 6.30 and then go to Misano for a full day EVO trackday and then race in a 2 hours endurance. I need to go otherwise I will be late.
It will also be an important test day because I have just replaced on my Clio 182 the previous road tyres with semislick R888R and installed a GAZ coilover kit. Will they play the part? We’ll discover that during the day.
Weather forecast says it will be sunny, at 6 o’clock it’s quite cold but I’m sure it will warm up. I meet my friends, petrolheads like me, at the gas station and we go. Sorry… I forgot they have two interesting “irons”, an Ariel Atom and a Lotus Exige S.
We arrive in front of the circuit that’s still closed and we feel overwhelmed by the number of driving toys we see. 911 GT3 is the most common, then Lotus Elise/Exige, Alfa Romeo 4C and any kind of hot hatch.
Following a brief preparation, including a refill with nice smelling 100 octanes fuel, we enter the circuit.
I have never been at Misano, I have only seen some videos in the web and I have learnt how fast it is.
1st warming lap, 2nd lap, something is going wrong. The left front tyre is touching the wheelarch on the tighter turns. I go out and, helped from the tyre specialist we decide to set the front shock absorbers harder but I feel this will not help without changing springs or changing the car height. And I discover to be right when I go back on track.
After a couple of attempts we find the right height, we know we have compromised the wheels angles but we can’t risk to cut the tyre during the endurance.
Unfortunately the time runs and we don’t have the time to test the car in a proper way during the day. Anyway the car is much better with new tyres and shocks, the former have much more grip compared to the road-biased Toyo T1-R and give a good confidence when loosing grip, the latter have reduced the body roll. Good news before an endurance race…
We will be 2 drivers racing for 2 hours and we decide to opt for 3 stops, this will allow us to drive not too long stints and start with half fuel tank.
Ready…go! We have the slowest car so we try to make our race and find the limit without thinking at the final result. The car looks quite well balanced even if I have understeer in the slowest corners due to the wrong angles in the front.
The circuit is beautiful and the best part is the Curvone (long bend) where you enter with full throttle at 190 km/h (around 120 mph) with 5th gear. It is also the most scaring part with the Clio because this car has always a natural tendency to loose grip on the rear while braking. And here you have to brake at that speed with the wheels pointing right for the next 4th gear turn… you must be quite delicate on the brakes.
This behavior helps to adjust the car when understeer is coming, just lift a bit the throttle and the chassis becomes neutral or oversteering.
The engine has not the performance you would expect in a fast circuit like this, but you can’t pretend too much from an original engine with 120.000 km and the original exhaust.
We discover during the race that 8 minutes stops are just what’s needed to refill the tank with the fuel needed and go again. The sun goes down and the circuit lights are switched on, this makes the contest even more magic and you feel like a F1 driver at Abu Dhabi.
We end the race 18th on 27 cars leaving the grid. That’s not bad considering the performance of our car.
Best thing we have enjoyed very much the day, discovering the car limits and a fascinating circuit where also MotoGP races.
After 19 hours I’m back at home. THANK YOU 5 o’clock alarm.