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It's that time again - Storm (Mk7 GTI) prepares for track battle 5/10 (upgrades & reviews inside)

GoatAutomotive

Autocross Champion
Location
Georgetown, TX
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI SE, DSG
This will be linked in the track section as well, and eventually in my build journal, which I have written, but not posted on here. I seem to be addicted to the suspension forum. Stop judging me. It's my safe-space. 🙃 😉

2017 GTI SE, DSG - 5/8-5/9/23 – ~43k miles - "Classy & Sassy"
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Pre-track day upgrades – brake flush, Hawk HPS 5.0 pads all around, Bilstein B8s, new strut bearings

There's a certain BMW M235i I am gunning for this next track day. I want to outpace him and cut a sub-1:35 lap, as close to 1:30 as possible at HHR's track tomorrow. He mopped the floor with 90% of our intermediate group last time. The dude is a machine, and Stormy had a bunch of weak points that I have since addressed. Going back in with a vengeance! 💪 😁 😎

DISCLAIMER - I pledge to keep this entry and review shorter than before. We all know I get a bit carried away with the tech info and rationale.

The info below can seriously help folks on the fence about their build path, even if they have no intention of tracking their MQBs.

Let's get INTO it!


Bilstein B8s - The car is doing extremely well, but the OE dampers, while retaining good pressure and resistance to them, are simply not up to controlling the car at the speeds it’s currently capable of.

On smooth roads, they’re wonderful and comfortable. On rough roads, as speed surpasses ~50mph and you’re giving it the beans, they throw in the towel like a soy-based liberal in a bar fight.

I spent an insane amount of time, research and indecision going back and forth between the Koni Sport adjustables, and the Bilstein B8s. There are truly advantages to both, and Koni’s recent 20% off sale made their Sports affordable (for the first time in a year).

In the end, I observed two daily-driven, well-modified, ~3300lb GSWs who regularly track their cars at VIR, running the B8s with nothing but praise for the dampers. (ed. - love you, Tigeo! #nohomo) 😉

Their success is good enough for me. Hammersticks and others have also been instrumental in guiding my suspension choices, so thank you all for keeping this community informative and collaborative.

On the B8s, I like the German engineering; the reputation for retained ride quality; and the “set it and forget it” design that matches my H&R OE Sport springs.

This allows me to focus on improving my driving behavior, and not having to second guess my car, damper settings, etc.

Also, the Konis are a twin tube damper, great for the street, but on paper, less ideal for track use.

The Bilstein monotubes, when sustained to continuous use and heat from track motions and fast-paced driving, have a reputation for offering the stamina of an MMA fighter. The yellow also looks gorgeous against the red calipers & indigo H&R springs. I love it. Warm fuzzy feels.

I went ahead and replaced the front strut mounts this go-round, even though there was ZERO issue with mine @ 43k miles. I didn’t wanna risk having to do front-end suspension work a FOURTH time on this car. [face palm] I'm over it.



Hawk HPS 5.0 pads

I have driven a friend/customers car with HPS 5.0s on the front and OE Motorcraft pads on the rear. The brake bite is excellent, almost grabby. But willing to slow the car like a set of 4-piston Brembos.

I need more brake power for the speeds my car is currently capable of (and seeing regularly). The Powerstop Z23s up front are a GREAT street pad with VERY little dust output. But you need to hammer on them a bit to get them to reign in the car when it’s cooking the bacon @ 60+ going into a 20mph hairpin.

I decided I am willing to deal with an occasional squeal and some brake dust in order to have big-boy braking again. The HPS 5.0s were on sale for just $192 for all 4 corners. This is about 40% less than what I would normally expect to pay for a true performance brake pad.

My car has the Audi RS3 brake ducts for added cooling, and fresh high-carbon rotors that are, honestly, amazing. They take a punch like McGregor wearing out his opponent before a hard-surprise KO. I think these pads will do perfectly for full time street use and ~6 track days a year (I may only get 3-4, money is tight).

I will report back after a proper bed-in and track-test, + LCR runs at our local canyon oasis of speed.



Brake flush

Brush your teeth before bed, and flush your brakes before & after every track event. Don’t chance it. The ass you save might be your own.

I use Pentosin Super DOT-4. I stock this in my shop (with great pricing) for customers with sport/performance-based applications. It just plain works, and it retains the German-loyalty theme of the build. 508* dry boiling point. Meets Porsche/BMW/Mercedes specs.

Yes, Motul RBF is higher, but I am not standing on my brakes and chasing record lap times at my track. Motul is also ~$25-30/bottle currently (when last I checked).


Wrap-Up - If you look over my upgrades over the last few years, the build is truly synergistic, start to finish. Each upgrade compliments the other components.

Like Aristotle’s famous caption that summarizes all great engineering outcomes:

“…the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Everything on my car works together as a system, and I fall deeper in love with it as this journey progresses.

If you own a Mk7/7.5, you are truly enjoying something special, well-engineered, and budget-friendly. Never forget that.

Thanks for reading this far, friends.

DM me or comment here if you have any questions.

Cheers & beers,
🍻 🤝

-Michael

VW fanatic; LS-motor junky; GTO and coilover whisperer; lifetime wordsmith
 

MonkeyMD

Autocross Champion
That increased camber is going to make a huge difference, plus that sway bar.

Will see you tomorrow. Hoping it doesn't rain
 

GoatAutomotive

Autocross Champion
Location
Georgetown, TX
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI SE, DSG
That increased camber is going to make a huge difference, plus that sway bar.

Will see you tomorrow. Hoping it doesn't rain
Thank you, Samer!

I had so much going on yesterday;

…between the car; burning up most of my fuel getting down to the event, and making sure all six members of my crew we’re taken care of in the TX heat; I could barely think and see straight.

It was a great surprise to see you there. Thank you for remembering me! Your little Golf punches way above its weight class.

Feel free to post up a link to your build journal if you have one. I would absolutely read it start to finish. 🙌 🏎

I’ll need a few days, but I’ll be posting a full write up on yesterday’s event, and all of the insane chaos and close calls preceding it.

The culmination of stress, severe sleep deprivation, an amazing support crew, and Storm (shop GTI) coming out in top form…produced one of the most amazing track events I’ve had since 2015. ❤️ 🍻
 

GoatAutomotive

Autocross Champion
Location
Georgetown, TX
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI SE, DSG
This next link/video is supplemental but important, both as a teaching aid and a visual aid to appreciating HHR as a track.

The fastest guy in our group is a pretty mellow and quiet fellow named Graham. He has a mostly stock grey BMW M235i:

Very clean, running stock wheels and almost no performance upgrades except for some Michelin summer tires. He’s even on the stock BMW engine map, which makes what you’re about to see that much more impressive.

He is always the first out on grid (often 10-minutes early), so that he has no traffic in front of him.

He drives this track like the Stig. It’s amazing what he can do to a mostly stock 2-series car with an open rear differential.

Anyway, watch closely and enjoy.

 

MonkeyMD

Autocross Champion
This next link/video is supplemental but important, both as a teaching aid and a visual aid to appreciating HHR as a track.

The fastest guy in our group is a pretty mellow and quiet fellow named Graham. He has a mostly stock grey BMW M235i:

Very clean, running stock wheels and almost no performance upgrades except for some Michelin summer tires. He’s even on the stock BMW engine map, which makes what you’re about to see that much more impressive.

He is always the first out on grid (often 10-minutes early), so that he has no traffic in front of him.

He drives this track like the Stig. It’s amazing what he can do to a mostly stock 2-series car with an open rear differential.

Anyway, watch closely and enjoy.


That guy is hauling.

Here's a guy from our local AutoX club who's a national champion in an ND Miata with just upgraded shocks, FSB & 200TW tires. It's just insane.

 

GoatAutomotive

Autocross Champion
Location
Georgetown, TX
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI SE, DSG
That guy is hauling.

Here's a guy from our local AutoX club who's a national champion in an ND Miata with just upgraded shocks, FSB & 200TW tires. It's just insane.

I actually feel bad for his car in that video. He is driving the s**t out of it like he just doesn’t care!

His speeds in every corner are 5– 8 mph faster than me. Somehow he was also able to brake going into corners and turns, which I did not think was possible on our cars? 🤷‍♂️

Thanks for sharing that. It’s definitely helping me to see what lines people are taking to go fast on that course.

I think a 1:34-1:35 would make me very happy, and is attainable with a proper alignment for me.

My best yesterday was still a 1:38.49, and I was booking it like my life depended on it. 😎 🏎

Choosing better lines, and having a proper alignment to keep my tires from fighting one another, would definitely get me there.

Graham consistently runs a 1:32-1:33 in his M235I, mostly stock with driver mod.

The man is just a beast behind the wheel, and somehow that BMW is a perfect match for his driving style. 💪 🇩🇪
 

MonkeyMD

Autocross Champion
Yeah, Autocrosses have the mindset of get 1 great run. So they go 11/10's from the first lap.

He beats up on that thing. That was 3 years ago and he's still running the same car albeit with more suspension mods, tune and exhaust. So it's actually even faster now.

Graham seems like he drives very similarly. On the edge of out of control which is where you want to be to go fast. A little tire slip is more grippy than a solid no slip turn surprisingly.

Your car can for sure do 1:35 with proper alignment. Lower will require better tires for sure.

I was impressed with the Automatic 98 4cyl Accord driver on All seasons tires. He was trucking. The rear tires looked like they had 5 degrees of POSITIVE camber 😂
 

GoatAutomotive

Autocross Champion
Location
Georgetown, TX
Car(s)
2017 VW GTI SE, DSG
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