Le Circuit Mont Tremblant – 22-23 July 2013

Since moving from Ottawa to Perth, the trip to Mont-Tremblant has become an hour longer, but I decided to make at least one trip up there because the track is a lot of fun to drive. Because I hadn’t been through the Rennsport Instructor Training program, I registered in the Black run group. I would simply drive and enjoy the trip. Before the 2012 season I had asked to be admitted to the program and twice my e-mails weren’t answered! In any case, I wasn’t prepared to commit to attending half of the Rennsport events, which is a prerequisite to be one of their instructors. In the future, if I’m asked to help out, I will gladly do so.

I left home around 2 o’clock, leaving 3-1/2 hours for the trip, through Ottawa and across the ferry at Cumberland. As planned, I arrived at the track before 5 o’clock and had to wait a few minutes for the day’s group to clear out so I could find a parking spot. As I was unloading, I said hello to a few old friends and got myself organized for the morning. Then I decided to drive by an old friend’s condominium on one of the golf course, to see if she was there. When I knocked on the door, I was greeted by a man! He knew my friend and had bought the condo from her. He also turned out to be a Porsche fan, so we talked quite a bit about our cars and experiences. After a pleasant visit, I went to my hotel and got settled.

The next day I met a number of old friends while waiting for the drivers’ meeting, including the Chief Instructor who hadn’t answered my e-mails. We chatted about various things, but he obviously wasn’t aware that I’d successfully completed the National Instructor program at the Glen and I didn’t bring it up. So I was able to drive in the Black group without controversy and had a great time, although the weather was quite hot. I had to watch my oil and cylinder head temperatures and take it easy in order to keep them under control. But the brakes were excellent.

At one point, while going through Turn 7, I heard a noise and my charging lamp came on. I slowed and made my way to the paddock, where I confirmed that the alternator belt had broken. Fortunately I always carry at least one spare, so I was able to change it quite easily – although I did drop one of the shims and had to borrow a magnet to retrieve it from below the pulley. The fellow who loaned it to me was a friend from Ottawa, who suffered a bigger problem around the same time. The clutch on his 944 let go, leaving him stranded without a ride. There was nothing to be done other than trailer or tow the car back to Ottawa. I offered to let him use my trailer and I would drive my car, but he had a CAA membership that would cover a flatbed tow, so he used that. It must have been an interesting drive home, because the flatbed driver didn’t speak English and my friend doesn’t speak French!

On the first day I hooked with a guy whom I think I met two years ago. He has a pristine white mid-80’s Carrera (maybe 87) with 226,000 km. It is bone stock, right down to the brake pads. He wanted to run together, so we started at the back on two stints and I followed him for lap or two, but I was clearly faster so he waved me by. He’s carrying a lot of weight in the interior (seats, stereo, speakers, spare tire, tool kit, etc) so he couldn’t keep up, except on the straights where he was using more rev’s. My lap times were about 6 seconds slower because of short-shifting, offset a bit by better brakes; but his were 7 seconds slower than mine. We talked a lot between stints about where I thought he was losing time, such as not carrying full throttle through 6 and 7 (after the apex) and braking early for 7, 8 and 10. He improved a bit, but without track pads, his braking was limiting. I was also going to play with another friend in her ’13 Boxster, but she was just too fast for me to keep up.

On the second day, I left before the last stint, since otherwise it would have been very late by the time I got home. I had to stop on the way home a couple of times, after going over the very rough roads in Mont Tremblant and a construction zone in Namur, to tighten the straps. Then in Kanata, after getting through very slow rush hour traffic around 6 o’clock, there was a very heavy thunderstorm, so I stopped again after the exit for Carleton Place to tighten the straps because they were soaked. I also need to stretch my legs because I started to get one of those deep leg cramps (in my left leg – the braking one), during the storm – very disconcerting.

It was an excellent event, with only about 100 cars. And the weather was perfect, if a little hot for the engine temperatures. Now I have only about 10 days to get ready for the Glen again, with a couple of Calabogie Lapping days thrown in for good measure.

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