First Autosolo success!

#1
Hi

I signed up ages ago when I bought my 1.3 GX: https://www.micra.org.uk/threads/hello.67757/#post-751304

I stated that I was going to use the Micra for Autosolo, as I had previously done one event in a Nissan Pulsar but it was too big and heavy to be competitive. Well last weekend I completed our first Autosolo in the Micra, and it was a resounding success! Finished 6th out of 12 in my class (A1, sub 1400cc), and about halfway through the entire order of all entries :) Really very pleased. Even accounting for now having some small experience at Autosolo, switching to the Micra was a massive jump in times to be a lot closer to the top people. I'm especially happy because it means I can blame my previous performance on poor car choice rather than crap driving hehe :)

All I did for this event was to pump the back tyres up to 45psi and left the fronts at about 32. I'm running nice new Uniroyal rain expert 3 which are a nice all round tyre. The folks who also do trials (the one where you have to get as far as possible down a muddy track) were eyeing up the Uniroyals, apparently they're the tyre of choice for trials - who knew?!

My wife also showed a big jump in times compared to when we ran the Pulsar I'm far more aggressive and she's super smooth, maybe a little too cautious though especially on the brakes. I wasn't expecting miracles from the micra handling-wise but it was ok. If you're not too rough with it once its settled in the corner it was good, fairly controllable even with my completely mediocre skill. It felt good pushing up to a point then the front end just gives up completely. I found it difficult to get to the limit quickly - had to build up to it slowly, but I guess that will come with experience.

I've had a search around here for improving the handling as I think there are easy gains to make in that respect. The point of autosolo in the micra is to do it as cheap as possible so I'll have to resist buying coilovers but there seem to be a good few options on simple lowering springs 30-35mm for hundred quid or so. There's probably a lot more time still to be saved simply by being a better driver rather than upgrading the car but it feels like the soft sprung super wobbly body roll is an easy target to improve for not much money, then we might have half a chance at being a bit more accurate with car placement through the cones

If any one has any experience they'd like to share with the Micra for autosolo then I'd love to hear from you :)

regards

Dave A
 
#2
If anyone is in the least bit interested, we are now over halfway through the Autosolo season and after 4 events (2 remaining) I'm 6th out of 23 in class (sub 1400cc)! Admittedly positions 12 to 23 aren't regulars and have only done a couple of rounds.... but still, I'll take any good news and encouragement I can get! I did have to miss a round myself to attend the British GP (as a spectator :))so I've only done 3 out of 4 rounds so far so I'm reasonably happy although unfortunately there is a HUGE gap to the top 5, I am definitely "best of the rest", the Force India of Autosolo. On a typical run of about 50 seconds I'm normally around 6 seconds off the fastest in my class :( however I make far fewer mistakes than the others so end up finishing higher than my outright speed should allow as I don't get so many penalties. Mrs Dave is usually a couple of seconds behind me but again she very rarely makes any mistakes so in the last round when it was cold and damp we did really well.

The last round was the first time I took some extra tyres for the event. My Uniroyal rain expert 3 front tyres were completely worn past the wear markers and showing the steel cable on the shoulders after 2 events and 10,000 road miles so I got some scrapyard steel wheels for 15 quid so I could use those tyres for autosolo. I used those on the rear with brand spanking new Uniroyals on the front because they are only £27 each for 155/70/R13. This reduced the understeer a little bit to get the back moving when you fling it into the corners but I've discovered I'm not entirely comfortable driving like this as there's a bigger risk of sliding and tapping a cone with the rear corner. Mid corner and exit still understeers, as you would probably expect. I find it difficult to get the wheel straightened up quick enough and spend a good length of the short straights scrabbling around for grip.

One area I've definitely improved is braking hard and changing gear. In the Micra the events are probably 60% 1st gear and 40% 2nd gear so its just a quick firm stamp on the brakes or sometimes just turning in sharply scrubs enough speed off but then the poor Micra really needs 1st to get out the tight corners quickly. For some people maybe it comes naturally but I really did struggle to begin changing from 2nd to 1st on the way into a corner. Sometimes I wouldn't bother and would just leave it in 2nd for the whole route and be terribly slow on the next straight but now with some experience I've got much better at grabbing 1st braking hard and turning in while keeping things smooth and placing the car accurately.

Total cost so far is £35 entry fee per round, 2 tyres at £27 each and one CV boot £6.99

regards

Dave A
 

SuperUno

Buy & Sell Member
#4
Learn how to heal 'n toe on the down change it will help with selecting 1st gear. You can practice it on the road.

See video of my feet on a solo.

 
#5
A few times at the last event when I felt confident I had a go doing heel and toe, but I was a bit clumsy and I think I was probably slightly slower as I'm still having to think about it while doing it. I'm still experimenting with the best position for my foot as it still feels a bit unnatural but hopefully with practice it will become second nature. I try and practice on the road as well but obviously its a bit more controlled and less rushed than when doing a test :) Most of the braking on tests is only a sharp tap so I'm just hitting the brake and then accel almost immediately after. There's no real finesse to it unlike long periods of braking from high speed with H&T which I can do in my other cars fairly well. Just need practice really.

Dave
 
#6
I second SuperUno's advice, once you get heel and toe down, it's just a matter of practice and it comes naturally, even for daily driving. Congratutlations on doing well straight from the get go with Autosolo, it sounds like a blast!
 
#7
Final event of the season completed, I finished 9th out of 12 on the day and 7th in class for the year. I'm getting to my best times a lot quicker now. My first runs of the day are a lot faster, I improve by about 1.5 seconds throughout the day. when I first started the difference between my first and last runs was about 3 seconds so that's a positive improvement. Over the year I've gone from 6s off the leaders now to about 3.5 to 4 seconds.

Interestingly at the event last Sunday, another Micra turned up on a trailer. 1.0 K11 facelift. Father and son team with son driving. The car was stickered up for lots of other events so I had to assume they probably knew what they were doing so I paid close attention to their times. They were on average about 1 second per run faster than me. I don't think they had any penalties and looked pretty consistent throughout the day. I didn't get the opportunity to chat to them, and didn't get a close look at their car but from the outside at a glance it didn't look like it was modified beyond harnesses and bucket seats. I couldn't tell if they had made suspension changes but it looked roughly standard ride height.

From that I can have a reasonable estimate of what makes up my gap to the top people. Assuming the young lad still has a bit to learn, and he was still faster than me - then I can reasonably guess that of my gap to the top people, at the very best half of it is the car and half of it is me. I think I've proven to myself that my driving skill is decidedly mediocre so its probably more like 1/3 the car and 2/3 my driving.

We tried to be too clever with tyre pressures and had the fronts down too low at 28psi and the sidewalls just gave up. All feel near the limit was gone, it would just go to mushy jelly when pushed. In the afternoon I got the fronts up to 32 which although it was slightly more understeery, the feel was much better so over all I was a bit faster but the damage had been done in the morning to my final finishing position.

Really looking forward to next year now. I started looking at pug 106/saxo etc but I like my little Micra. The 1.4 pug/citroen engine is 75hp the same as the 1.3 Micra but its a bit more torque. That makes them more flexible with gear choice (1st or 2nd) as it has the double advantage of having a longer 1st gear, and when in 2nd at lower revs having better pull due to the torque.

I would really rather not buy another car so I've read the suspension upgrade guides on here so might have a look at that to see if I can get some improvement that way but I'm wary of making things worse.

Does anyone know if Micras with power steering have a faster rack or is it the same? Over this year of autosolo I've decided that the slow manual steering is a disadvantage - but I'm undecided as to whether its a big enough disadvantage to do anything about it like getting another car

Dave A
 
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#8
Bought one today for the exact same thing for me and the mrs as she really fancied giving it a go. I've done a couple in the last few months and done very well in vehicles that people laughed at lining up on the startline (my mums toyota IQ and my mk7 transit).

Will have to follow your progress and updates closely see if theres anything I can pick up
 
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