I’m wearing the balaclava, already sitting in the cockpit of the Audi TTS Roadster, with the helmet resting in the passenger seat. Suddenly, a severe, cracked and dry crash resounds across the wall of the Velo Città boxes. The kind of sound that only a large-displacement prepared V8 can produce – in this case, Fernando Baptista’s Maverick 16, making a shakedown in its new form, more aggressive and aerodynamic than ever. Following, a smooth, hoarse, all-European snore: the 3.8-liter six-cylinder Porsche Boxster Spyder, which uses the 911 Carrera S engine.
I fold the helmet. Ambient sounds are more muffled. I turn off the stability and traction control and play with the various display options of the 12.3 “TFT display that makes up the Audi cluster – the map mode shows me the whole track, almost like in a game, and I think: boy , This is almost a cheat for mountain climbing evidence! I move to the next mode, which plays the spinner in the center position, very large.
In the background, the cars keep going: four, six, eight cylinders. Suddenly, the mechanical symphony is interrupted by a sequence of explosions, like fireworks. It’s the anti-lag system of the red Lancer Evo IX MR, which came out of the pits about three minutes ago. I give a small smile and I remember briefly the adventure of the Nürburgring Nordschleife: there, the Englishmen were crazy and their Evo prepared to the stalk. How can I not remember Initial D, too?
I am on Oktane Track Day (OTD), the most traditional track day in Brazil, with more than fifteen years of history – mostly held in the late race track of Jacarepaguá (RJ). If you’re enthusiastic, you definitely know Oktane – the video below is just one of OTD’s many epic moments. And here we are, witnessing in first person another chapter.
Oktane was born between 2000 and 2001. They were friends who participated in one of the only track days in Brazil, organized at the time by Paulo Melo. The OTD staff had a desire for something more organized, in the shape of track events going on outside the country, and they held a closed event with about 15 cars. Since then, there have been many events a year, between open track days, private trainings for collectors and straight events. Rodrigo Gomes, one of the founders, says that there have been at least 100 events since the turn of the century, some of them punctuated by more than special presences such as Ferrari 599 GTO, F50, Porsche GT3 RS and GT2 RS, Lotus Exige S and all the generations of Evo that exist in Brazil – from V to X.
The OTD has always had a more elite track day profile, often having exotic and competitive cars mixed with some classics from the 60s to the 90s, often very modified. Beginners at the Oktane are usually a minority, but the conviviality is usually crystal clear and easy thanks to the level of the participants. There is a lot of complicity on the track: everyone knows that the fight is against the clock, not positions – occasionally there is one or another chase, but almost always in a friendly way, more in the gentleman driver footprint. This was further facilitated in this particular edition, which had only 25 participants – about half the average. Most of the staff were waiting for the Interlagos OTD, which happened last week (this issue in Velo Citta happened in June).
The event is structured directly and straight: although there are 12 categories dividing the times, there is no division by batteries – the track is open from 9:00 (immediately after the briefing) at 16:00. The top ten qualify for the Top 10, an exclusive half-hour battery that ends the day, following the awards: trophies receive the three fastest in each category, in addition to the ten fastest overall.
Registration costs R $ 1,500 and includes wheel and tire change service (most participants use slicks – and the service is also useful for spinning to distribute wear as well as to try some products such as Track day Pirelli Trophy R because the event is sponsored by Della Via), up to five guests and shared instructor for the newbies. In addition, there is gasoline available Podium (BR) available locally, paid locally.
The categories are divided into four subdivisions for each type of traction:
Traction 4 × 4 up to 4 cylinders aspirated / 4 × 4 pull up to 4 cylinders turbo or supercharger
4 × 4 drive up 4-cylinder aspirated / 4 × 4 Drive up 4-cylinder turbo or supercharger
Rear wheel drive up to 4 cylinders aspirated / Rear wheel drive up to 4 cylinders turbo or supercharger
Rear-wheel drive up to 4 cylinders aspirated / Rear-wheel drive up to 4 cylinders turbo or supercharger
Front wheel drive up to 4 cylinders aspirated / Front wheel drive up to 4 cylinders turbo or supercharger
Front wheel drive up to 4 cylinders aspirated / Front wheel drive up to 4 cylinders turbo or supercharger
As the track is open all day for all participants, there is no seat to the pot or piled up of cars in the pitlane: each one goes out at his own pace, goes around and returns to the pits. On the track, the street cars usually give between one and three warm laps and a cooldown before going back to speed, doing sessions of about twelve laps before returning to the pits. Before returning to the pits, some opt for up to two cooldown laps.
What is the purpose of cooldown? It’s a slow-paced turn, with alert flashing on. Its function is linked to cooling. First and foremost, cool the brakes: street cars with engines over 200 hp usually last for a maximum of three laps (the average is two laps, but there are cars that last only one lap) before the brake fluid Start to boil, which causes the system to lose pressure – the pedal gets soft and can not exert enough pressure to plumb the discs. This scenario is the famous fading, which can also occur in the pellets (vitrificam) and the disks (blue and distemper).
The worst thing you can do is walk hard on the track and get back into the pits directly: the first symptom of lack of cooldown is the presence of smoke coming off the wheels when the driver pitted. With the vehicle stationary, without ventilation, the energy accumulated in the discs causes the system temperature to rise violently.
But many other things need cooling: the cooldown also serves to cool the engine’s cooling system as well as lowering the oil temperature – a very important thing for turbo-charged vehicles. For cars without slick tires, the cooldown turns also lower tire temperature as the street tire compound has a much lower operating temperature than slicks – that is, from a certain point you lose a lot of grip By the so-called decay, which is when the tires work beyond the ideal temperature to perform.
Before leaving the track, under the hood. “Open lid”, the drag coefficient is worse, but did not care much for that: with so many strong cars and this experienced crew in the pits next to, I knew that there would be no chance to even get near the Top 10. Then preferred To favor the experience of enjoying the hum of the EA888 2.0 turbo of 286 hp between 5,300 and 6,200 rpm, the tire singing and the open wind.
The TTS family figures as one of my favorite cars. As I said in the video above, they remind me a lot about the proposal of the Porsche 911 from the two-liter era (1964 to 1969) or 2.2 (1969 to 1971): a refined sports car, compact and perfectly usable for any task everyday. Featuring sufficient suspension load for even the Brazilian carpet and the energy efficiency of the already well-proven 2.0 turbo EA888, the TTS Roadster still brings the bonnet of the electric top and four-wheel drive in relation to the Golf GTI , An excellent request for the enthusiast who does not care about the exclusivity and the refinements and features of the TT.
I consider the TTS a face without exotisms, without excesses – in short, a well dimensioned and tasteful set. Shirt and jeans, formal and informal enough. Of course, the nine-eleven of the 60’s has engine and rear-wheel drive and a rear made to draw curves with the inertia of its meager 1,100 kg, while the TTS is in the 1,400 kg, has four-wheel drive more like a Front-wheel drive system (Haldex, works on demand – read about it and other 4 × 4 systems here) and bends in front of all NVH requirements, which leaves you a bit filtered like any today’s production car. But, leaving these points aside, I keep my 911 baby feeling upside down. Even the panel, despite the 100% digital cluster, features a minimalist structure that reminds me of some cars of the past.
In the pitlane, I press the GoPro button to start the registration. Near the pit exit, a commissioner checks if I have my helmet buckled and checks my pilot’s wristband, while another checks the lane to release the exit. While waiting – vrooooaamm, brap, brap! An Evo X enters Curve 1 braking hard and calling for two gear reductions – I remember that I am in a very atypical situation with my stems.
I pulled out the car with Audi on Friday afternoon, the day before the event. As a habit, I usually stop to check the tire calibration – and that’s where I ran into something weird, certainly an incident in the fleet maintenance process. The front tires were Pirelli PZero 245/35 ZR19, but the rear ones were Bridgestone Potenza RE050A. Damn it! Having two different tire designs in the same car is all you do not want in terms of dynamics: each tire features its drift angle versus each angle, and each presents its performance curve versus temperature gain. Changing in kids: the front tires would fold and communicate differently from the rear, as well as each axis would have a specific behavior as the temperature of the tires went up. Extra challenge detected!
I leave the track with two things in mind: first, try to understand the dynamics of these two sets of tires cold and hot. Second, feel the resistance of the brakes against fading. I had already been with the TTS in Interlagos and at least one certainty I had: Brake for two hot laps in a row he had. After that, a cooldown, maybe two, and stick in the machine again; I mentalized.
It was also important to air the track. Although the Velo Città was an old acquaintance of mine – not that I was an expert, but at least 150 laps in that circuit I already gave – the last time I had been on a racetrack I had been at AIC in May, and before that, Six months without accelerating on a track. Reactions rust, the sensitivity of the tire grip limit on the palms of the hands becomes unbalanced. Even the labyrinth gives an unaccustomed to the lateral acceleration.