Test Day Logic: Setup First, Then Speed
I was back in Florida last week, this time at Sebring International Raceway for the annual Porsche Club 48 Hours of Sebring. I was there to work with my good friend and racer Rob Trollinger.
Rob had recently been at Sebring, driving a Spec Miata in an SCCA Majors event. That gave him a great head start on getting up to speed for the Porsche Club weekend. Although Rob’s recent visit to the track was a tremendous advantage, he had not been in his Porsche since September.
We had laid out specific goals to optimize our test day before the Porsche Club race weekend got started. Getting the car’s setup dialed in was our priority during the opening sessions of the day while Rob got refamiliarized with the nuances of the 911. The afternoon sessions were more focused on the track as we worked to optimize specific corners where we saw room for improvement.
The logic we used to build our successful test plan—working on the car first and then the track—came from our desire to minimize the variables as quickly as possible. I was also able to drive on the test day, so I could assist even further with getting the car set up. Balancing some of that responsibility allowed us to focus on the car first to get it set up just right, which then gave us a constant factor so Rob could focus on specific track aspects later in the day.
After a busy but very productive test day, we were feeling confident and prepared for the race weekend ahead. With practice and qualifying on the following day, we were only able to fine-tune both the car and driver to get ready to race, so that test day was well worth the time.
The first race brought rain showers, which Rob hadn’t practiced in at all, but the confidence gained through the previous days’ experiences gave Rob the ability to persevere and fight for a great result despite the challenging conditions. The last day of racing ended on a positive note, too, with Rob getting his quickest time of the weekend and putting in another stellar performance.