One clean, clear lap of Bedford GT – April 2015
I know I said I wanted to get some semi-slick tyres fitted before taking the car out again, but it felt so nice driving it on the road after a winter of absence that I found myself back at Bedford Autodrome on the Kumhos again.
Keeping in the spirit of family involvement, this time it was my mum who came along with me, and drove really rather tidily as well! It seems a lifetime of watching motorsport teaches you to find the right line instinctively, it was a pleasure sitting in the passenger seat. Naturally I wanted to find out a benchmark lap time as well, so I went out for a solo run towards the end of the day and managed the 3:04 lap in the video. There’s plenty of time left to find out there!
Once again, the car covered just over 150 miles on the circuit, which is apparently the lifespan of a set of EBC Redstuff rear pads once you start using them hard. I wasn’t sure at the time whether it was the pads, or the grooves on the Brembo MAX discs being too aggressive and chewing the pads up, but experience has since told me those discs are just fine with proper materials clamping them. No more Redstuff for me, and wiping out an entire set of pads in one track day was irritating enough that I haven’t bought EBC since.
Admittedly, the rear brakes do get very hot on an E36. There’s quite good airflow through the fronts, but the rears have a double problem – no cooling ducts leading to the wheel well, and the handbrake shoes and mechanism are housed inside the disc, so you can’t route air to the centre as you usually would. The result, measured on a laser pyrometer after a cooldown lap, was front discs coming in around 170°C but the rears a whopping 280°C. It’s difficult to extrapolate operating temperatures from this, but suffice to say it’s pretty bloody hot. So, onto the next step up the friction material ladder:
These are Mintex, the M1155 compound for the front, and M1144 for the rear as that’s the only one they make in that size. These are aimed at fast road/track day use, but I’d read good reviews and considered them well worth trying for £120.
And, at long last…
Some semi-slicks. In the typical budget style, spending £600 on a set of Toyo R888s or Yokohama AD08Rs wasn’t on the cards, and I went for Nankang’s now-ubiquitous NS-2R in the more durable (if less grippy) 180 compound. Even before they’re mounted, it was obvious that they were much stiffer and softer than any typical road tyre I’d seen. They also come with only 5.5mm tread, which means they won’t heat up and wear too quickly if used on track from new. £60 a corner in 205/55R16.
It’d only be a month until a sprint to try them out…