First day on track – Snetterton

10 OCTOBER, 2009

Another super duper day at the wonderful Snetterton, this time in the new GT3. "What are the differences?", I hear you all ask in a chorus of poetic voice.

What started out as a typically British, wet, autumn day very quickly evolved into another gorgeous, warm sunny event. I was actually quite looking forward to rain as Snetterton is a great, fun circuit when playing around on the limits of traction. I also wanted to ensure I didn’t eat through tyres and brakes. Worried about being on standard discs, I didn’t want to chew through a set on my first trackday.

Regardless, it wasn’t long before a dry line appeared on track and as traffic increased, so did traction, allowing me to further push the GT3 into the farthest reaches of our universe. I’m near on 500 miles with the new GT3, but I can really start to feel the increase in power – not as an absolute, but the minor changes to the map making an overall improvement throughout the whole rev-range. With an unnamed friend in his Nissan GTR (warranty blah blah) acting as reference, I was quite expecting to be left behind, only making time up on the straights. But it didn’t quite pan out that way with a frentic number of sessions consisting of nose to tail action, cementing the fact that the new 3.8 is more than a match for the massively fast GTR.

A forever changing cat and mouse game, the GTR would make progress on the two straights of Snetterton, but the light weight nature of the GT3 made a killing under hard braking and sharp turns. Again the Nissan would take large chunks out of the GT3 from some of the very tight chicane exits, where its four wheel drive would aid exit traction when I’d be crossing my arms trying to keep the car straight (which has been immense fun!).

Where are the improvements? Well, the overall speed of the car is a minor, but noticable difference. There’s also a better connection between steering wheel and front wheels under hard acceleration and turn. I always used to notice a lack of gravity up front as though the steering was searching for some feedback, in vain. That appears to be remedied with some real proper feedback, including less understeer and better communication. But the most significant improvement has to be in its aerodynamics. Hard braking in the Gen1 used to be hugely amusing with sweepstakes trying to determine the direction the car would take – quite often at the point where your braking pressure is at the maximum point before the ABS cuts in. I remember quite clearly in the Gen1 at the huge long straight at Snetterton (Revett straight) you’d be coming down from 140MPH really hard on the brakes, perhaps harder than any other circuit – and the car would jitter and swerve all over. The deep front dam and the exagerated spoiler seem to have given the car impressive road holding that has ultimately aided its on-limit stability.

So, not a huge amount of differences. I have to ask my dealer if I actually got my dynamic engine mounts, because frankly I can’t feel any difference and I’d be mighty pissed off if I’d been sold a marketing gimmick that had no functional value. It’s still a ridiculous car and there really is nothing like it. It’s supremely quick now for a 3.8 normally aspirated car and still retains that unique nibleness and litheness that makes it the envy of cars with twice its horsepower.

Just a word, meanwhile, to the people on trackdays who seem to think it’s OK to piss fuel/oil all over the circuit and remain on the racing line while plumes of smoke destroy your chances of credibility. I know sometimes ‘things’ happen that are outside of your control, but please for the love of god use some common sense.

Father to two rodents. Husband to a pillar of support. Buddies with the Norse God of mischief. Director of a creative agency, demomedia.co.uk.

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