Tips For Your First Track Day In A Mclaren
First time out in a Mclaren on track is always daunting. Prep is key to ensuring you have a successful day keeping your car healthy and in optimal condition for the track day ahead. This guide is just a few tips from my own personal experience which I hope helps folks be it beginner or intermediate.
Mclaren Track Day Insurance
You need it! If you're going to be throwing an expensive car around on track the first thing you need to do is arrange track day insurance. Your typical road car insurance will not cover you. You can either buyer a days cover through a specialist or use a broker who is familiar with track days and can provide cover as part of road insurance such as ClassicLine. Read the small print as some insurers will have specific exceptions and terms. Often you will find the excess is increased in the region of 10-15% of the insured value of the car.
Goes without saying the car should be prepared, so check oil, tyres, brakes, etc... if its way past a service get it serviced before hand! If your cars not prepped then how do you expect it to perform well on the day 🙂
If its you first time out and your a newbie don't worry too much about the type of tyres you're running as long as they've got a decent amount of tread then you'll still have a good day out. Once you get bitten by the bug of track days you'll want to upgrade tyres to something more track orientated be it Trofeo's, Cup2s, or my favourite Nankang AR1s. From personal experience Trofeo R's don't last long and the narrower 225 tyre loses some of the front end grip you gain with the Cup 2s and AR1s. The AR1s last a very long time and perform very well but not the best in rain!
Run a few laps to get the car warmed up then come back in and check the tyre pressures. Ideally use a proper measuring device for the best results, the tyre pressures do generally jump up quickly, therefore you need to reduce the pressure to ideally 30-32psi all round. Pressures will vary up and down during the day so keep a check on them every other session. Tyre pressures make a difference not only to grip but also tyre wear so it's important to keep an eye on them.
I use a Longacre digital tyre pressure gauge which I've used for years and definitely worth the money.
Longacre Digital Tyre Link
When the pressures are outside of Mclarens TPMS 'ideal' you will get buzzing, its annoying, you can't turn it off, just try and not let it distract you and over time you just get used to it. Its nothing to be alarmed by unless you see pressures drop dramatically as this could highlight a problem.
Tyre pressures will vary through out the day, but what's a given is that at the end of the day as you go home they'll be getting cold and pressure will start to go down... Ideally you want to pump them up to counter this so you're not running low and causing excess wear.
I've used many pumps in the past, generally the type that you plug into the 12V, which to be honest is a pain with the wiring so I invested in a Li battery option from Ryobi which is super!
Link to Ryobi Air Pump
Just make sure to order the battery and have it well charged!!
On full prolonged throttle Mclarens go through oil this is normal. However does need regular checks through the course of the track day. For example, don't be surprised if you go through 1/2 to 3/4 of a litre of Mobil1 on a fast day at Silverstone GP. So make sure you take spare oil and an oil funnel for the day. I generally check the oil every two sessions via the dash reader. On top ups you want to go little by little, don't throw jugs in at one time as you'll overfill and that's very bad. Little by little checking each time on the dash reader.
Disable the Auto Brake
Carbon ceramic brakes will need both warm up and cool down laps. The more time you put into these laps the longer your carbon discs will last especially on cool down. On returning to the pit you won't want the auto brake to be initiated as it could bind hot pads to hot discs which is bad. So once on a flat surface before turning the car off, put the car in neutral, then hold down the parking brake switch, keep this held down as you turn the car off. This should ensure the auto brake is not initiated.
Sometimes you may not find youre on a flat surface which bears a risk of the car moving if a slight slope! So its always a good idea to take a bit of wood to chock a wheel to be on the safe side.
Do I need specialist brakes on a Mclaren for Track?
A bit like the tyre situation, if your first time and you're just starting OEM is fine, however once you've got the track day bug you'll be best to invest in specialist pads. For a few days a year and for those going out for pleasure Pagids are a good option and fairly priced. These are available to purchase here.
If you start to get serious on track then Endless is your go to track pad. They have a material designed to be super aggressive on track but actually softer on the carbon discs vs OEM. This is my pad of choice and I've been astounded by the stopping power! However supply in the UK is slim and therefore the cost is very high near twice that of the Pagids. So not for everyone but for sure the ultimate.
As with tyre pressures and oil checks its important to check the torque of your wheel bolts through out the day. You don't need to go all out and buy an expensive Snap-On wrench. A decent one such as the one from Halfords Professional range is more than suitable. You'll want the bolts tightened to about 130nm.
Thats about it - Oh and don't forget your helmet!