Reno-Fernley Raceway track weekend [Orig posted: 09/09/2006]

Reno-Fernley course map

I spent the weekend of Aug 26-27 at a track weekend at Reno-Fernley Raceway with TEAM racing. It was my first time with both the track and the organization and I must say I had a great time. RFR is a terrific track containing both (Elise friendly) twisty bits and some long straights (not so Elise friendly). There are some blind corners that require quite a bit of commitment but if you once get the layout down it is a very rewarding experience. Turns 3 through 11 in particular are my favorite portion of the track where you have to manage you throttle carefully to stay under the rev limiter and on-cam through the entire section.

I started out on day 1 running laps in the 3:40 range while I was still learning the track. I was lucky enough to get a couple of sessions with Alan C as my instructor which helped me bring my laptimes down to a consistent 3:28-3:29 range with one blinder of a 3:23 (no idea how that one happened). The esses at the turn 1 complex were the most difficult for me since it took me quite a while to start going through without braking at the straight. Once I built up the courage (read balls) to push it I was able to sail through pretty easily at an indicated 100 mph. Turns 12, 15 and 23 were going to be my main focus for day 2.

My target for day 2 was to hit 3:20 and I was able to dip under 3:25 pretty much straight away before hitting a bit of a wall. I was getting the hang of 12 and 15 though 23 was another corner where I just didn’t have the balls to go though at full speed. One of the instructor then did a couple of lead/follow laps with me which made me realize that I was taking the wrong line through the chicane at 18 and the straight between 19 and 20. I was able to make some tiny adjustments which led to a sequence of 3:20, 3:21, 3:22, 3:20 in session 4 which was my fastest of the weekend. The image below shows a speed coded map of my lines on my two fast laps.

Datalog images of my fast laps at Reno-Fernley

As you can see I got identical lap times using two very different lines especially through 15 and 18. Turn 18 is the most difficult one for me because it is after the crest of blind turn 17 and which makes me very unsure of my braking and turn-in points for 18. I would estimate that I have left at least 5 seconds out on the course and I should be able to run 3:15s the next time I go up there.

All in all it was a great weekend where I learnt a lot and had an amazing time on the track. My personal highlight was on day 2 when I passed a 911 turbo and viper down the front straight – it feels soooooo good to pass cars with well over double my horsepower.

P.S.: To learn the fast line at RFR check out Tam’s post at EliseTalk where he describes the line he was taking in his race prepped Evo. He was by far the fastest car out there running a best of 3 minutes flat.

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