SL55 on Track...(long post)

db1

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Some of you might have been following discussions about taking the SL 55 on track, well yesterday was its debut! I managed to arrange via Motorsport Events a dedicated 30min slot over lunchtime with no-one on track! They were extremely friendly and the general attitude and discipline was very reassuring. I saw a few over enthusiastic drivers black flagged quickly and there was good separation between the cars. Also, no barriers, just grass.

Having never had the opportunity to really try out the car in "high end" conditions, this was an eye opener. First a couple of warm up laps to learn the circuit and then a few harder (although still "this is my car"-in the back of my mind..) laps.

The track is very tight with two longish straights. One ends in a haipin - the other a sharp left hander. There are also some chicanes and one off camber sweeping right hander (Hullavington Airfield).

http://www.motorsport-events.co.uk/hullavington.htm

I managed to get to around 125 or so down the straight and then into the hairpin after some heavy braking. Accelerating out with ESP/Sensotronic working was amazing. Deliberately (and sometimes not) getting the car out of shape was almost impossible unless you are doing something really excessive. The variable braking pulls the car straight again, varies the power delivery etc so you just drive quickly. I did around 5 laps with ESP turned off, and you then really need to concentrate. The speed, to me, seemed similar to that without ESP, however the level of concentration and correction required far more (as you would expect). Even then however, the car remains quite controllable at the limits I was driving anyway. Naturally the car has understeer in these tight corners, but otherwise seems well balanced. I had the Sport mode suspension setting on.

The acceleration down the straights was mind blowing - I was using the manual shifting the whole time - not at max rpm, but around 5.5 - 6. Manual shifting in my view gives much more control, also under braking. Again - this worked flawlessly - even protecting the car (and me) from some over enthusiastic upshifts!

Although timing is prohibited, racing not allowed I did bump into someone after who said to me that they had been timing and we (me plus instructor) did a 1:28 lap. I wasn't sure where that rated, but they indicated this was a very respectable time and compared well with some of the Caterhams.

I am certain that with more time (and someone elses SL55!!) this time could be reduced quite a lot which means that a 2ton car is in real "quick car" territory. It speaks volumes for this cars power and design.

It would be remiss of me to omit one slight weakness of the car, which was that after around 10 laps or so I got a warning (again nice to know before the car is damaged) that the brakes were overheating and to slow down, drive carefully. If you consider the layout of the track however and the braking required this is not surprising. To do more of this it really needs ceramic brakes (which I believe the F1 pace car has). However for me, this was a fine time to stop - I only really wanted to explore this cars potential for a few laps in safety not thrash it around a track for hours.

Summing up - I was expecting a quick car, but nothing that so easily manages in such challenging conditions. It is a car you can enjoy in good weather at 30mph with the top down, and at 155mph on the autobahn or on the occasional track day.


DB1
 

Flyer

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Great write-up. That could have been twice as long and I still would have read every word. Beautiful car; saw one at the GTG yesterday (but missed the roof opening, damn :confused: ). Drool....

Top job, fella :D .

Cheers

Andrew
 

Maff

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Originally posted by Flyer
Beautiful car; saw one at the GTG yesterday (but missed the roof opening, damn :confused: ). Drool....
That was DB1's car you saw yesterday at the GTG!
 

Flyer

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Doh! Pay attention at the back ... :confused: . My excuse is that he left early...

db1: class car. Sounded and looked fab.

Cheers

Andrew
 

Guy

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Hi,

Good to meet you on Sunday, and glad you had such a positive experience with the car at the track!

Just wondered whether you think it might be realistic to think about arranging a GTG at that, or another track, with the company you used?

Any idea how much it might cost to have exclusive use for MBclub members? Is it something we and they might be interested in? I would...

Just realised you went on a Friday - I suppose too few of us could get there midweek, and weekends are probably very busy, therefore very expensive.. :rolleyes:

Has it fired you up to want to do it again? Perhaps we can all just come and watch! :p
 
OP
OP
D

db1

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Dec 25, 2002
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Thanks for comments, enjoyed the day and wanted to let you guys know my thoughts on this since there was a debate on whether a Merc should go on a track...

To Guys question - absolutely he would do a private event. I am setting one up for another set of mates and unfortunately we are at the limit already otherwise would include an invitation.

Costs are: £3000 for the day for the track, plus £600 for an Elise and £550 for a Caterham to be used along with your own cars (other cars optional).

This includes all marshalls, ambulances, instructors etc for the day. Based on around 40 people coming that is around £110 each. In my experience 1hr during the day of track time is enough, split into 3 x 20min sessions. That is enough for you and your own car. Add another couple of sessions in one of their cars and you probably get a reasonable amount of driving done in the day.

In my opinion it is the only safe way to try out our cars at high speed in challenging situations. It was a real eye opener for me in the SL although I have done a number in other cars.

Do you think we could get enough people to do this?

DB1
 

Brian WH

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I'd be interested if the date was right lads.

Why not have a poll on a seperate thread???
 

Guy

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Count on me for one, plus possibly one or two mates - as ever will depend on date and venue!
 

doriant

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I'll need a transporter to bring all my toys, but will be great fun.
I'm use to these airfields, many sprint (motorsport) meetings are held on similar venues.

Let go guys........
 

Billy

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Jun 5, 2002
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Had the chance on Tuesday to take my car round the Silverstone GP Circuit, along with a friend in his Ferrari 550.

Would just like to say that this was a well run SAFE non racing drive aroung the GP circuit, which gave me the chance to put myself & the car through it's paces.

The sooner someone organises one of these events for everyone the better.

These days are an experiance never to be missed!!!
 

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