June 7, 2008: We managed to talk our way on to the track for a little play time.
Both of the visitors absolutely loved the car. Axel spent all of his time countersteering and laughing, while Andre was turning some pretty good times. Both really enjoyed themselves.
For me, it was the first time to have the car on the track since last August - and the first time to drive it on the track in the "forward" clockwise direction in a long time. I've been spending every possible track minute in the Targa Miata, preparing it for the upcoming race. Driving the Seven was a bit of an eye-opener to be honest. I'd forgotten how physical it was. The brake pedal is rock-hard and needs a good firm push, the throttle pedal is a bit heavy (due to an extra throttle return spring that's an experiment) and the steering requires a surprising shove. Of course, everything in the Miata is power-assisted and it's a more delicate car to pilot - as it has to be, since I'll be driving it for a week of 12-hour days. But would the Seven be more effective if it was a bit lighter to drive, or would it simply be more effete? I'm not sure, I'll have to think about that. I might back the brakes off one more master cylinder size just to try.
The Seven is also set up to oversteer. Now, this is quite a bit of fun and you never have to worry about the front sliding out on you. But my driving style must have changed somewhat over the past months because I initially thought the car had a problem with the rear tires! A fast lap is mostly spent managing the rear. Very entertaining, but perhaps a little less hairiness might make the car easier to drive and quicker, without giving up the ability to rotate it on a dime. I have some ideas, this will be fun to try. Don't get me wrong, the car doesn't handle badly and it's still a complete riot. I was turning mid-1:04s which is pretty respectable - my best time in this configuration is a 1:03.3. But I wonder if it can be improved with a few fairly minor tweaks to the alignment and master cylinder sizing.
The Targa car benefited greatly from my experience with the Seven, and now I think it's time for the pollination to go the other way for while.