A Day At The Races

Hampton Downs is New Zealand's latest, and quite possibly greatest race track.

Situated just south of Champion Dragway at Meremere, about half way between Auckland and Hamilton, it features incredibly challenging technical corners with drastic elevation changes, and therefore promises to offer some of the most spectacular motor racing seen in the world.

Well we just HAD to try it out for ourselves.  And it was a HOOT!

The layout used for club day racing lacks the massive hairpin-ended straight you'll see on telly, making it hard to exceed about 180kmh, but I'd have to say that's probably a very wise thing in light of our experiences.

Here's some feedback from one of the crew who were there on the day -

What a day!

Was so much fun getting back onto the track again for the first time in almost 2 years and finally being able to push the MR2 a little harder than you can on the street.

So after a pretty sleepless night (i was like a kid before christmas) i got up at around 6:30am and made my way down to the shell garage to do my tyres.  Decided to go for slightly higher pressures in the front with the intention of neutralising oversteer with some understeer.

Arrived at the track just after 8, did my registration and was ready to go at about 8:30.  At this point everyone used the hour leading up to the drivers' briefing to set up their gazebos, change their wheels and tune their cars.  I gave my car the walk around, kicked my tyres and made sure my number plates were secured. 

Eventually we got to the familiarization laps and shortly thereafter it was go-time!
Well so i thought.  A Honda S2000 spilt its guts on the very first lap of the day and caused a 20 minute delay which just added to the anticipation.

So with the oiled area cordoned off it was finally time to give it a whirl!
I started at the very front of the group which was pretty nerve-wrecking but after letting a couple of faster cars past and finding some space in the field, everything started coming together nicely!
Not fast as such, but the car was feeling great with the brakes working fantastically well, turn-in being precise, corner exit being neutral and accelleration being swift. Of course the end of the session came way too soon but it wasnt long before being back on the track.

This 2nd session was by far the best, i was braking really late and hard, finding some smooth lines and it felt like i was flying.  After about 3 laps no-one had even appeared in the rearview mirror and i had started closing in on a green bmw 328i racecar.  Wanting to get even closer, i started pressing a little harder and as fate would have it, the brake pedal starting losing feel and was basically only working once pressed firmly against the firewall.  But this wasn't going to slow me down, nooooo sireee!

Uhm, well, kinda.  Coming up to turn 4 i hit the brakes but to no avail!
Punching the pedal as hard as i could eventually got the brakes going but only to lock them up.  I tried downshifting, cayman's (sp) braking and even throwing objects out of the car, but nothing!

So i accepted my fate, braced for impact and had a little cry.

Miraculously i came to a standstill about a metre from the tyrewall and managed to drive out of the kitty litter without any issues.  Well, except for the fact that my brakes never felt the same after that incident.  For the rest of the day the brakes were extremely weak and i had to try and change my driving style completely (which i failed at by the way).

Regardless, I still had a great time and have to say that Hampton Downs is probably the most challenging track that I've been on (among the likes of PhakisaAldo ScribanteWesbank Raceway etc)

I wanted to record a base lap time to improve on but as it goes I didn't film session 2 :-(

I'm guessing that I was probably about 3 or 4 seconds slower without brakes so I've set myself the target time of 1:25 with just some basic brake upgrades, better tyres and a tad of extra boost.

Anyway, here is a little YouTube video clip of one of the later sessions:

Was nice seeing the club guys there (Charlie, Carl, Mark, Lucas etc), look forward to seeing you guys at the next one!

Author - Eugene, known on the forum as lsvtec

Here's some video from Toyota Festival of Fun events that we've attended -

Taupo, March 2013 -

Mel loves to explore the limits of what an SW20 can do.  That's true with respect to his custom build, producing 600hp, and it's true of his driving style too. Look for the spin about half way through...

This next video is Toyota's promotional vid from the first Toyota Fest at Taupo in March 2013, so it is basically an advert for their new 86 sports car.  But we were there too and it does feature a few of our MR2's.  The video captures the spirit of the day brilliantly, as well as making it very obvious why we Toyota sports car enthusiasts love our cars.  I have to say it's brilliant that our MR2 club can get in on the action at these events.  Thank you Toyota NZ.  Keep it coming!

Hampton Downs May 2014 -

A lap in my SW20 GTS on road tyres at 14lb (2/3) boost.  1:24 @ 202kmh

Kris gets out there in his AW11