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Discussion Starter #1
A friend of mine is a big car nut and has a lot of high-end cars. One of his recent acquisitions is a Carrera GT. He wanted to run it at a driver education weekend. He was nice enough to ask me to instruct him and allow me to drive it myself for a few sessions.

What a car! It is amazing. It is HUGE. It looks as wide as an eighteen wheeler in the back. It is EXOTIC. I poked around the car trying to find anything steel on it. I can only come up with the crank and the axles as the only substantial steel parts in the whole car! It is a LOUSY street car. The clutch is absolute crap at launch. You WILL stall it the first and most subsequent times you attempt to launch it. Eventually, you learn to just drop the clutch slowly with NO, and I mean, NO throttle. Even the slightest hint of throttle and it stalls. Instantly. The other option would be to do a big 4-5K RPM drop. But, you go ahead and do that in YOUR $450K car... The car feels like it has no flywheel whatsoever. Blipping of the throttle causes the tach to jump to redline and fall back instantly. The ride is a little harsh on the street (I drove it to the track), a little harsher than an Elise. On track, the suspension felt great, though hampered by the stock tires.

The V10 makes an awesome sound, with a howl that is just a few notes below that of an F1 car (and much quieter).

On track, the car shrinks down and gets down to business with very little fuss. The transmission shifts smoothly, the brakes are totally kick-ass. Best I have driven. The steering is fairly communicative. The response to the big pedal is BIG SPEED NOW. The car just continues accelerating like there is no such thing as drag. At the end of the straight, we were touching 175. The best thing about it is the absolute stability at silly speeds. The car is sucked down onto the track like a leech. The tires are not up to the level of the rest of the car and are by far the weak link on track. We were running T1-class speeds on street tires with no drama (I was being very conservative on corner entry in the high speed corners). The car is very neutral with good response to pedal action when you are looking to change the car's attitude. Barring the thoughts of crashing someone else’s very expensive car, it is an easy car to drive fast.

On the way home, I drove his GT3. It is one of my favorite cars of all time, but it felt like a rental car...

Ara
 

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I think I was there. This was a Drivers' Edge trackday/DE at Motorsport Ranch just South of Ft. Worth. The Carrera GT was beautiful to watch. Just as impressive was a Lambo Murcielago and 3 Panteras from Team Pantera Racing. The Mini Coopers and the Mustang SVT Cobras had fun, too. I really enjoyed trying to chase the Carrera and the Lambo around the track (with no prayer of staying anywhere close to them). I am glad that these owners are willing to "work" their cars and not let them be simply garage queens or trophy cars.

BTW, it was not a timed event.
 

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Hey Ara,

Good to see your post. Thanks for the ride a few weeks back in Jeff's GT3. I'm still thinking about picking one up, and Jeff's is a sweet car (hope you got his wife's running again!). I see you got his GT out as well. . . very nice!

Given your time behind the wheel of so many cars at TWS, I'd be interested in your thoughts about what an LSS Elise could do around that course? As well, how do GT3's do around TWS?

In my E36 M3, on Kumhos with the planets aligned, I got down to 2.01's. A buddy of mine in a similar car has broken 2's. My buddy Mel who club raced for a year laid some serious smack down in BMW CCA H stock in an E36 M3, running 57 flat. Pretty amazing given the hp of the car.

Anyway, just trying to calibrate how the Elise would fare against my definition of 'fast' and with respect to different cars.

Cheers,

Jeff
 

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Ara said:
The clutch is absolute crap at launch. You WILL stall it the first and most subsequent times you attempt to launch it. Eventually, you learn to just drop the clutch slowly with NO, and I mean, NO throttle. Even the slightest hint of throttle and it stalls. Instantly. The other option would be to do a big 4-5K RPM drop. But, you go ahead and do that in YOUR $450K car...
From the Jay Leno interview in AutoWeek:
Q: You still have the Carrera GT loaner, how do you like that?

A: I put 500 miles on it. I bought it because of the clutch. What is it, a 60,000-mile clutch? The McLaren clutch [Leno also owns a McLaren F1] is 3000 or 4000 miles...

Q: Wasn’t the Carrera GT clutch difficult to get used to?

A: I didn’t have any problems. I read one road test that said, "Oh, it’ll really build up your thigh muscles." Well, how lazy are we getting? I have a Hispano-Suiza and that thing has a clutch—you operate that for a few blocks and you’re sweating. But this car, it’s like, "Oh shut up, are you really mentally and physically exhausted from shifting?"

The real trick to driving the car is you put it in gear, don’t give it any gas, release the clutch and it goes. I find it’s one of those things that gives a car character. Just as it was mastering the earlier 911’s handling characteristics.

I have a number of W.O. Bentleys and that is a hard car to shift. You grind gears. I called the guy I bought the first one from and he says, "You’ll get the hang of it," and he was right. You just feel a great amount of satisfaction from learning and performing the mechanical process of shifting.

Q: You really love that carbon clutch, don’t you?

A: It doesn’t smoke, it doesn’t smell. Any other car, you do a burnout and, "Sniff, sniff, uh oh." Let’s face it, if you’ve got a Countach and some kid comes up to you in a ’57 Chevy, you say, "Yeah, I could beat this kid but it’ll cost me $4,700 in clutch repairs." With the Porsche it’s not like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
"What would the Elise turn at TWS?"

I wish I knew. I'm trying to figure out if it has a ghost of a chance against the Vipers and Z06s in T1... It'll take 1:50s or better to get there (in T1 prep). I'm guessing that it better turn 1:53s out of the box on Hoosiers to make it in T1.

I wish Lotus would get the cars in the hands of those willing to get the cars some national exposure...

Ara
 
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