Braunton Engineering provide track preparation for cars visiting race tracks for track day and race events. The team maintain and develop both their own track cars and their customer's cars to increase performance and resilience.
They organize events and road trips to drive on race tracks across the U.K and Europe for their customers and provide vehicle support during these events. Each vehicle undergoes thorough scrutiny to evaluate which components require replacement or upgrade to ensure reliability and continued high performance on track.
The servicing, modification and upgrade work is a result of a number of year's experience driving on a variety of tracks in the UK and on the continent, to discover what does and does not work well when the cars are used continuously under heavy load.
The Braunton team run a number of M3's on the track despite the long affiliation with Porsche. They have switched to the M3 as it is an affordable, good handling rear wheel drive option.
The braking systems see the front & rear brake pads changed to a racing compound, which offers a vast improvement over road brake pads. With these changes come floating brake discs which sit on bells, brake calipers such as AP racing, and steel braided brake hoses with racing brake fluid.
The upgraded brake system allows continuous use on circuits with very little brake fade from heat soak, and a terrific initial bite from the brake pedal - a bite which progresses with the press of the brake pedal, allowing the car to slow at the faster rate than a standard car. The brake modification allows the driver to drive hard, straight to the corner's braking zone, taking the momentum away, ready to turn in and enter the corner as fast as the vehicle and driver's ability will allow.
The cooling and heating hoses are inspected, especially where hoses have a bend beyond 45 degrees, as these are prone to failure with time. The power steering hoses are another source of concern on an older car (above 7 years old), as they carry hot, thin oil under pressure and usually these hoses feature elbows and ferrules which can be the source of a leak.
Using a car on a race track means various components and systems have to be upgraded over a standard road car to ensure continued, reliable use. Work to the brakes, suspension and mounts, engine cooling system, exhaust and tyres all need to be considered when preparing the car. Attention to the purpose of the car, how much track use the car will have, to establish if it remains comfortable and usable on road, or whether the car is to be a dedicated track car are taken into consideration at the planning and procurement stage.
The suspension; springs, shocks, anti roll bars, bushes all need to be inspected so that they are up to the task. The reality of preparing a car for good performance on a track is that all the old and worn standard components will need replacing and where possible upgraded to stiffer, stronger parts. The brakes are a particular issue when used on the track and its is usually the front brakes which are upgraded first to enable braking without fade or overheating.
Donington Park represents a good, technical circuit to test the cars ability, with some off camber and testing entry corners to check a driver's nerve. Circuit familiarity counts for a lot, but with more laps to your name, the hidden metronome wakes up and you can kid yourself that your falling lap times would have been noticed - if only that Team Boss would notice you in the Reliant Robin that has just decimated the field of M3's, GT3's and other random race cars. Trackdays at their best - you can drive your car fast as you like and fool your alter ego that you could have been a very, very quick contender.