Join Date: Jun 2001
Thanked 127 Times in 89 Posts
All I can say is "wow!" As much fun as the M5 was to track, this is in an entirely different category. Everything about the car sceamed "precision." Turn-in is instantaneous, the grip is phenomenal, and the ability to place the car wherever was needed made for a tremendously enjoyable experience. Perhaps most tellingly, the two parts of the track where I felt the least comfortable in the M5 (for those familiar with VIR -- Turn 3 and the tricky downhill Rollercoaster/Hogpen complex) were the most enjoyable in the M3.
Trailbraking was a breeze. At the end of the long back straight is an uphill left turn that sets up the Rollercoaster. Ideally, this left is used as the continuation of the braking zone so that braking can begin later. I was reaching over 130 mph in the straight, braking at the "1" marker and the car would obediently make the left with no drama.
Understeer is practically nonexistent, except for a couple of times when I barreled into Turn 1 way too hot, but even then the E36 platform is so wonderfully forgiving that corrections are relatively easy.
Brakes were tremendous. Stock calipers. Brembo blank rotors. Hawk HT-10 pads. Stainless steel brake lines. Brass brake guides. BBK seems utterly unnecessary at this point.
Having had his M3 on the track once before, Jason was scorching off the bat. I progressively placed trust in the car and the speeds increased dramatically. By the end of yesterday (after only as couple of days in these cars), we both were running within 2-3 seconds of the best laps we had achieved in the M5s after months. And this is on the VIR full course, where HP really does help. For example, on the back straight, instead of 160, I was around 135, on the front straight, instead of 145, I was around 130, and on the bridge straight before the uphill esses I was at 115 instead of 135. Gives you an idea how much faster were were through the turns. There are considerably better times to be had from these cars once we learn them more and trust them more.
In sum, the M5 remains a tremendously capable car for someone who wants to visit the track occasionally. For someone who has been bitten as hard by the track bug as Jason and I and plans to track regularly (i.e., several times each month or more), a dedicated track car is definitely the way to go.
A few photos will follow.
I am hoping for two more days this month and then embark on some winter projects that may involve engine work.
2006 M5 Silver Gray/Silverstone/Madeira Walnut
Dinan Stage 2 Suspension System
Supersprint Race exhaust with X-pipe
1998 M3 Coupe Technoviolet #315 IP/GTS3
JRZ RS, Bimmerworld cage, Racetech halo seat, GC sway bars, control arms, AA headers and 3" race exhaust (loud and proud), etc., etc., etc. . . .