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How to determine optimal (minimum) lap time for my car

26
13
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
South Florida
I’m starting to get serious about this track hobby. My question is with everyone having different setups, tires, brakes, and aero how do I figure out what would be the fastest lap time my car would be able to make with its current equipment.
My car is a 2018 GT350 with stock pilot super sport tires, factory brake pads, and stock except for vorshlag camber plates, auto blip and a 4 point harness I’m running at Sebring on the 3.7 mile 12 hr track. I’m concreting on that track for now. My first event there I ran a best lap of 2:47 with a Best theoretical lap of 2:42. I did an event at PBIR and then my second event at Sebring. At the second Sebring event I ran best lap 2:40 with Best theoretical Lap at 2:38. My lap times are getting more consistent but I still have plenty of work to do there.

My goal for now is to improve and move up thru the HPDE classes and then time trial as well as becoming an instructor. Granted I’m a very competitive person and want to be the best at what ever I’m involved in.
 

Dave_W

Cones - not just for ice cream
450
449
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Connecticut
The Lap Time thread has about a dozen times for Sebring in a variety of cars. I has a stock GT350 Track Pack running 2:28.99 and a 2013 V6 on 285 RS-4s turning a 2:38.96.

A big differentiator that isn't noted is experience - seat time is golden, especially for novices. My recommendations for people starting track days / HPDE is to make the car reasonably safe and then concentrate on only those mods that will let you run as fast as you feel comfortable for a full session, for all the sessions at an event. Running a super-grippy tire that gets greasy after 3 laps doesn't let you pound out the repetitive laps you need to learn. Running out of brake pads halfway through the day means you're wasting seat time. You're ahead of most of us by starting with a GT350.
 
You could also consider a lap timer that can analyze your sessions and tell you where you are losing time. I'm going to purchase the new Garmin Catalyst that has verbal coaching during your lap to optimize your lines and lap time. Hit up Steveespo on this forum as he has already been using it and really had good things to say about it. I'm not a w2w racer so all I need is good video and feedback on what I'm doing right and wrong each lap. Hopefully with that feedback you can bang out optimal laps on every track you visit. That should tell you where you should be personally in terms of lap time even after you add upgrades.
 
26
13
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
South Florida
I'm not looking to do any upgrades to the car until i can max out the car as it is now. I know i need a lot of seat time and coaching still and that is where I am headed. What i am looking for is if someone with lots of seat time and full knowledge of the Sebring track was to run a perfect lap in my car as it is what that time might be. I want to get close to that time before i do any more mods to the car. I want to spend my $$$ on seat time becoming a better driver mentally and technically before i spend $$$ on upgrades.

I have been looking at the Garmin catalyst and might get one when i hit a plateau in my learning I have looked at an AIM data logger but the ford OBD port does not give you brake modulation so it would take adding an analog brake sensor to get that. Getting data and feedback is easy just costs money and I don't have a problem spending the money when its the right time to do so. What i don't want to do is make changes before I am ready and have them end up being a crutch to faster laps.

Thanks for all the help TMO
 

Dave_W

Cones - not just for ice cream
450
449
Exp. Type
Autocross
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Connecticut
I congratulate you on your atitude on improving the driver vs improving the car. 👍

I don't want to scare away any TMO member that's driven Sebring to give the OP a best guess on what a decent lap time in his car would be, but each person's car is different, and even just suspension alignment can help/hurt lap times. I think the best gauge is to have an experienced driver actually drive your car. Before the next event, contact the organization to see if they allow instructors to drive student's cars (and you can gently lobby for someone who can act more as a coach than a right-seat nanny). Before the session, discuss with your instructor what you'd like to learn from his driving, and agree on how much communication you'd like to have on what topics during the laps. If you have a couple sessions in the day, it might make sense to let the instructor drive in the second session, after he's seen how you're driving, for more targeted feedback.

I'd say allow at least a lap for them to get used to your car before they turn a "target" lap. On the warm-up lap(s), ask them if they can describe where they're looking on the track as they travel into and out of turns ("eyes up" and "look ahead"). On the warm-up and hot laps, pay attention to where they place the car on corner entry & apex, how they transition brakes to gas, and how their inputs smoothly load the car's contact patches - "smooth is fast." Afterwards, ask them how your car handles in general - is there anything "evil" your car is doing, or that they felt they had to "drive around."
 
3,946
4,006
Someone out there makes a predictive lap timer, I forget the name but a lot of the Phoenix SCCA cars have them, including Joe Aquilante's corvette, and he swears by it... I jus can't remember the brand right now.
 
Wonder if @ajaquilante might be able to speak to that?

An AIM Solo2DL is a good piece to start with. GPS data, some CAN bus data. Mainly use it to see your laptimes, and then see a predictive "lap time" or a +/- to your best lap of the session. DE event are hard to get clean laps with point-bys and the various levels of cars so then looking at your sectors ( if properly done and not OVER-done) and looking at best theoretical gives a "what-you-can-do."

To figure out what your can in its current form can do at any specific racetrack when you are starting out is hard unless you get someone to drive it that sets a base line. You can get an idea from what others do in showroom-stock cars, but once things get modded, its difficult to quantify the times. Temperatures also can have a big impact on laptimes at certain tracks as well.
 
57
74
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
10-20 Years
Cumming, Georgia
I'm not looking to do any upgrades to the car until i can max out the car as it is now. I know i need a lot of seat time and coaching still and that is where I am headed. What i am looking for is if someone with lots of seat time and full knowledge of the Sebring track was to run a perfect lap in my car as it is what that time might be. I want to get close to that time before i do any more mods to the car. I want to spend my $$$ on seat time becoming a better driver mentally and technically before i spend $$$ on upgrades.

I have been looking at the Garmin catalyst and might get one when i hit a plateau in my learning I have looked at an AIM data logger but the ford OBD port does not give you brake modulation so it would take adding an analog brake sensor to get that. Getting data and feedback is easy just costs money and I don't have a problem spending the money when its the right time to do so. What i don't want to do is make changes before I am ready and have them end up being a crutch to faster laps.

Thanks for all the help TMO
The best money is on track time and as noted, the GT350 is extremely capable as delivered. It's also smart to get logging equipment to analyze your driving as well. Very useful.

However, one inexpensive / 30 minute DIY thing you should consider is oil separators, they are pretty much a must on our cars for track work. I would also consider the oil pressure balancing line as you get faster and start pushing the car harder. Both are smart longevity / reliability updates and are inexpensive and easy to install.
 

Boone

Professional Thread Killer
I'm going to second the Lap Time Thread on TMO. The #1 mod you can make to your car is the tires. That's why most laps are listed with the rubber the car was running. Compare your times with those on similar tires. If you can't best the V6 on 200TW, then you need some more seat time. Kind of harsh, but that is the boat I'm in, so you have company.

One other thing you can do, especially since your car is near stock, is search YouTube for professional drivers laying down laps in similar cars. Mike Skeen, Randy Probst, and several others will lay down hot laps in students cars, or for manufacturers that you can compare your laps to.
 
26
13
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
South Florida
All good info as always here. I am using track addict app and it gives me sector times and a theoretical lap time based on the best sector times from each session. the session I ran the 2:40.95 lap I had a 2:38.77 Theoretical lap. I have put oil catch cans on the car already but will look into the oil pressure balancing line. I will look into getting a well experienced driver to run my car at Sebring at my next event. I have looked into data logging equipment and unfortunately Ford does not have brake modulation data on the OBD port. going to cost $$$ to get the right data
 
18
15
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Bay Area, CA
A mere 8 track days here - I purchased the Aim SOLO 2 DL, have used it for 3 track days so far and it's been incredibly useful so far. Yes - we can't get brake pressure - but, you can get speed over time which will show you braking performance in the sense that you can see how hard you slowed down. I've used this to see that i'm not hard on the brakes enough - my declaration curve looks like a freaking staircase at the end of the main straight at Laguna on my 1:47 lap.

I use the data to compare my fastest laps to my others and I'm always slightly faster in one turn in a slower lap then i am in the fastest lap.

GPS Data - you can overlay your lines in google earth and see where you are on the track - granted it's off sometimes - but you can see your line relative to others and charts etc that people post on here. I attached a photo of my offroading extravaganza from thunderhill. I ran a 2:07 lap and on the next lap i tried for more and slid off track at 50mph.

As far as your minimum lap time - As Dave_W said - i'd reference the laptime thread as there are plenty of GT350's running so you can see what they are posting along with their mods which gives us a good idea of what the car is capable of under different drivers.

I agree with you that experience is key - The first time i went out was with NASA and i had an instructor all day. That did more for me than i could say in terms of learning how to place the car and what the car wants to see. The instructor took me out for a session and showed me what the car is capable of (in stock form) and it's insane! I'd highly recommend that if you haven't yet.

193474173_326503288840920_3555105049168875025_n.png
 
174
175
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
20+ Years
NC
To help with speed, make sure you do events with instructors. They will be your biggest help. After that, make sure you ride with said instructors, its an eye opener. My first event many moons ago, I i thought I was in trouble. My instructor asked what I did in between sessions. I gave him this dumbfounded look like what do you mean. He said your lines are so much better and your inputs are so much smoother. Told him I had several friends who were instructors I rode with. He emphatically said to to that EVERY event I go to. I tried my very best. I now offer all my students rides and have for years. Its not showing off, its helping show what the car is capable of. Don't worry too much about you lap times if just beginning. Use it as a learning tool; especially if you plan on doing the same track several times throughout the year. Track Addicts is good and cheap app, and you don't have to have the phone where you can see the laps. I usually check mine when I get back in the pits. it gives sector times and a best predictive lap.
I hope this rambling helps some
 
39
42
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
10-20 Years
San Jose
A mere 8 track days here - I purchased the Aim SOLO 2 DL, have used it for 3 track days so far and it's been incredibly useful so far. Yes - we can't get brake pressure - but, you can get speed over time which will show you braking performance in the sense that you can see how hard you slowed down. I've used this to see that i'm not hard on the brakes enough - my declaration curve looks like a freaking staircase at the end of the main straight at Laguna on my 1:47 lap.

I use the data to compare my fastest laps to my others and I'm always slightly faster in one turn in a slower lap then i am in the fastest lap.

GPS Data - you can overlay your lines in google earth and see where you are on the track - granted it's off sometimes - but you can see your line relative to others and charts etc that people post on here. I attached a photo of my offroading extravaganza from thunderhill. I ran a 2:07 lap and on the next lap i tried for more and slid off track at 50mph.

As far as your minimum lap time - As Dave_W said - i'd reference the laptime thread as there are plenty of GT350's running so you can see what they are posting along with their mods which gives us a good idea of what the car is capable of under different drivers.

I agree with you that experience is key - The first time i went out was with NASA and i had an instructor all day. That did more for me than i could say in terms of learning how to place the car and what the car wants to see. The instructor took me out for a session and showed me what the car is capable of (in stock form) and it's insane! I'd highly recommend that if you haven't yet.

View attachment 66289
That can be a scary spot. One thing that helped me go faster here is knowing there is a lot of run off if you come in hot into T2.
 
93
52
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Bulgaria
For me Video from laps which you can take with TrackAddict is the most important way to learn. No GPS data can give you what a video could for laps. Finding optimal time of the car is very hard as you have a lot of variables in place for example weather, track conditions, traffic etc. And even if some of this variables are the car itself like tires, alignment, power etc the others can't be controlled. With that in mind try to record as much data as possible (video, tire temps, car settings etc.) Preferably try to organise that data by track for example you should be able to point out what your tire temperatures were before and after session 3 on sunday as well as what your car alignment, and other settings were as well as track conditions like air and track temperature, you should be able to answer what your ECT and CHT were and what your oil temp and pressure were preferably when you did your best lap. With all your data you need a stable repeatable setup that you can use when you go to that track and then a lot of seat time. To put that into perspective I have over 400 laps on my local track here are videos from my first recorded timed best lap and from my PB can you see the difference ?


And

Biggest difference for me was getting instruction from a better drivers and better tires. So seat time is essential but good data is also very helpful. Hope this helps.
 

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