Lydden Hill – BMW 120D Coupe – 14/05/16
Above: Hot Lap video, filmed from a Go Pro on a custom made head rest mount
An excellent 20 min session at Lydden Hill which finally saw me beat my previous fastest lap time, set in the Mondeo back in 2013 by around 0.2 seconds. Although the BMW is more powerful the Mondeo was purpose built for racing, it was lighter, had a better brake setup and soft tires. Taking that into consideration along with the constant reminder in the back of my mind that I can’t crash my road car, I’d say the BMW did very well.
The K&N Air Filter, DPT Chip, exchange of run flat tires with Michelin Primacy 3’s, EBC GreenStuff front brake pads, Black Diamond front brake disks and removal of the front brake dust covers all worked in harmony to get the car around the track 2 seconds faster than when it was standard.
The power difference from standard was instantly noticeable, the car was able to stay with the much lighter cars on the track. I happened to notice a reading around 8-9 mpg on the dash and after an hour drive to the track, 20 mins of racing and an hour drive back I’d still used less than a quarter of a tank.
The difference in handling having gotten rid of the run flat tires was huge and in every day road driving the car is noticeably more comfortable. I ran the fronts at 32psi and the rears at 33psi with no trouble at all. The rubber had melted and blistered and the tread pattern changed shape somewhat but they are still perfectly good tires. It’s impossible to fault the M Sport suspension, if anything it’s a bit too hard and low for everyday road use but on the track it’s superb.
The brake fade issue’s I’d had previously from the standard brake disks and pads had been eliminated with the new brake setup allowing me to focus on setting a quick lap. The only braking issue I had now came from the brake fluid and possibly the lines to a certain extent, the pedal felt somewhat spongy but the brakes still performed perfectly. I think a performance brake fluid and braided lines would be a worthwhile investment for any future track time.
The TRS harness again did a great job of keeping me in my seat, Helen on the otherhand, my brave wife in the passenger seat was flying around all over the show. She would strongly advise on a harness for passengers!
Apart from the obvious differences such as lack of interior and noise, the introduction of modern technology is probably the most noticeable between the BMW and the Mondeo. There was complete feedback from the track surface through the steering wheel of the Mondeo, and you were constantly aware that if you braked too hard you would lock up or if you pushed too hard the only traction control came from your own ability to counter steer and control the pedals accordingly. The BMW offers less feel through the steering wheel and was just as easy to turn the wheel at race speeds through corners as it would be for everyday road driving. I’d found previously that the traction control limited the car too much through the corners, however setting it to DTC mode allowed the car to break traction just enough to get me through the corners whilst still giving me an excellent lap time and keeping the car facing the right direction.
Above: Comparison between the BMW and Mondeo laps illustrating the superior engine performance of the BMW vs the superior braking and handling of the Mondeo