Many of you have seen us at the track with our Nissan GT-R competing in various Time Attack and track day events with NASA, Redline Time Attack, PCA, BMWCCA, and various national magazine track competitions, such as the Modified Magazine Tuner Shootout, and the Grassroots Motorsports Ultimate Track Car Challenge. We’ve had great success across many platforms of vehicles, and have decided on a focus and renewed effort in the Porsche marketplace. Our facility of 11 full time employees have built a great reputation for excellence over the past six years, and we look forward to working with the Porsche community moving forward. From parts, service, engine building, tuning, full race car prep, and driving instruction, we do it all in house.
I have always loved driving Porsche’s and we wanted to get into the market when the opportunity presented itself. A few weeks ago an opportunity did arise and we now have a new Forged Performance shop car to add to our stable.: A beautiful 2005 Porsche 996 GT3. The previous owner install a few carefully selected mods that gave us a head start:
4 Point Harness Bar
Schroth 6 Point Harnesses
European GT3 Seats
Cup Car Shifter/Linkage
Cup Car Rear Toe Arms
Second set of OEM wheels
1 year old used set of Hoosier R6’s (more on that later)
Pagid Yellow Brake Pads
This GT3 isn’t nearly that fun on the street, so what better way to shake the car down, then test and tune at Carolina Motorsports Park! We packed up the GT3, and the GT-R and headed to CMP about 4 hours away from our facility in metro Atlanta. We rolled it off the trailer and I gave it a couple turns to get used to the car. With regular Michelin PS2’s 235/295 the car was nearly undrivable on track. With the alignment settings tailored to the Hoosiers, the street tires were simply unable to function properly. Turn in was non-existent, and the car was unstable throughout the corner. Any additions of fuel, steering, or brake would result in a violent chassis reaction. After a couple of laps, I just decided to parked it, as I wasn’t accomplishing anything other than drifting practice. I knew we had a lot of work to do to get the setup where it needed to be.
After the track day at CMP I decided that the car was in need of some improvements to the, suspension, braking, and general setup. Aesthetically the car is absolutely beautiful, but it was clear we were in need of wheels. Tray contacted HRE Performance Wheels and got a set of 18inch HRE Comp 90’s in route.. They sent us a set of wheels painted gloss black, with a gloss black lip with titanium fasteners in 2 weeks. Talk about service! We sourced out a Porsche Cup splitter and he contacted GMG and got us taken care of. Soon we will be adding a GT3 Cup wing to give us some much needed rear downforce at the high speed tracks we attend.
The car handles really well out of the box. No question about it. But we have been spoiled these last few years running JRZ suspension on all of our track cars. It is amazing how a car can feel when running JRZ suspension. If you are serious about speed this is exactly what you need. I decided to go JRZ RS Pro’s starting with a square spring setup of 1000lb Front/1000lb Rear. I’ve always liked my track cars fairly stiff, and this is a good place to start for a mostly track use GT3. To compliment the upgrades suspension we wanted to upgrade the sway bars and components. Tray got in touch with TPC Racing the Mid Atlantic Porsche race experts. Tom equipped us with a set of TPC Racing Pro series adjustable sway bars, droplink kit. A few days later the goodies from TPC Racing has arrived. Unboxed and laid out on a table for observation. I really like the quality of these suspension components. They are made from very high quality materials, and the sway bars shipped with OEM bushing. The installation was a breeze and no modifications were required. For this install we decided not to install the adjustable toe links until the JRZ’s arrive.
As far as the exhaust was concerned it sounded a bit tame and needed a change. We contacted Jay from FabSpeed. They have some really nice products for a wide variety of European cars. Our Porsche is mainly going to be at the track so we started off with their FabSpeed muffler bypass kit. This was a great addition to the car. The installation was a breeze and the quality of parts were as promised. Wow…instantly shed 50+lbs from the rear of the GT3, and the exhaust note is off the charts insane. It screams move over! I love it!
While waiting for the new JRZ’s to arrived, we decided to bring the GT3 to last weekends Chin Motorsports track day at Road Atlanta. Road Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, and happens to be only 1 hr from our shop. I have over a thousand laps around this place, and every time I got there I leave with huge smile on my face. The fast straights, huge elevation change, blind corners, neck snapping braking zones….Road Atlanta has it all. Since the HRE’s had arrived, I mounted and balanced the previous owners super old Hoosier R6’s and hoped for the best. To my surprise, the car was improved drastically, and was actually now a fun track car! The soft suspension of the GT3 was still a handicap for me, but at least I could go out there and turn some fun laps without total fear of loosing control of the car. You can see in the video, that I am still fighting for grip in spots, but that’s to be expected with a really old tire that’s well out of it’s prime. I was still able to pass most of the cars on track, but it just took a little more effort than it would have with the GT-R. And to cap off the event on Sunday afternoon, the left rear exploded on the back straight just before turn 9 and 145mph. I lost control of the car, but somehow managed to keep it pointing mostly straight, and off the walls. I feel $50K richer for that save.
We just picked up a new set of JRZ RS Pro's with custom spring rates. For those who are not aware of the JRZ Suspension they are the top choice for professional race teams. JRZ have proved themselves on the track with countless victories across many forms of motorsport. Forged Performance has been using them for years on all of our race cars, and will continue to be our choice for suspension.
I wanted to give you a detailed track test review now that the JRZ RS Pro's are installed, corner balanced, and aligned. As you will recall, I elected to use a 1000lb/1000lb square setup to best suit my driving style. I am also running Hoosier R6's in 245 front and 315 rear mounted to those beautiful HRE C90 18 inch wheels.
So here is the complete rundown of the suspension related bits:
JRZ RS Pro's 1000lb/1000lb
TPC Racing Sway Bars
TPC Drop Link
Porsche Cup Car rear Toe Arms
Hoosier R6's 245/315 18's
While selecting these fairly aggressive springs rates for a weekend fun track day car, I was resigned to the fact that the ride would be fairly harsh on normal roads. But I was pleasantly surprised that the JRZ RS Pro's were incredibly compliant on the street. If you are familiar with Atlanta area roads, they are very rough, and the JRZ's soaked up the bumps with ease. There was also no noticeable noise inside the cabin and overall they had terrific compliance. This is definitely a package I would feel comfortable driving on the street. It's firm but not as bouncy as the OEM shocks.
Now lets get to the fun part: The track test at Sebring's 12 hr circuit. Sebring is a great track for testing suspension. There is a huge variery of corners, from smooth wide open throttle high speed speeders, to very tight technical sections and of course the super bumpy and world renown turns 17 and 1.
Bryan from JRZ was on hand to help translate my feedback into adjustments that provided the required results. In, a nutshell, the handling improvement is literally a nigh and day experience. Our spring rate choice was perfect! The balance of the car was exactly as I would request. With a few adjustments to the shocks, the stability under braking was extremely confidence inspiring, and turn in was precise and immediate. It was very easy to trail brake the car into corners while rotating the car gently torward the apex. I was able to apply throttle fairly early, and just a few steering corrections on the bumpy surfaces of Sebring. The car was dead flat and planted, and the body roll of the stock suspension was completely gone. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better handling GT3 on this track.
The next step, however, is going to be an upgraded LSD, as I am still getting some tire slip and spin on hard corner exit, and probably given up a tenth or two on each corner exit.
I was so pleased with the results, I ended up giving out about 10 rides to customers, friends, and others. This car puts a big smile on my face every time I drive it.
Next stop is Road Atlanta on Sept 11-12th with the BMWCCA. This will be another great opportunity to see how the new suspension setup deals with Road Atlanta's elevation changes and smoother track surface. Looking forward to.