Rob made a post on the MCO forums about his view of the race weekend just ran. The following is the weekend from my perspective.
Wow leaving at 7:00AM is downright decadent, including the Starbucks latte. We arrive at the track shortly after 9:00AM, register, find a paddock spot and get unloaded. After checking over the car we get Rob ready for the 11:00AM session. About 1/2 through the session Rob comes in when the water pressure gauge went to zero. We had plenty of flow into the overflow tank, but not a lot of pressure released when opening the cap and the hoses did not feel to be under pressure. Out again for a couple more laps then back in with climbing water and oil temps. This is not the start to the weekend that we wanted.
So back to the paddock we go to try and figure this out. One thing that looks like it might be causing problems is the rad cap. We pretty sure the pressure sender is toast though. An executive decision by team management is that we need a replacement cap. A trip to Napanee is unsuccessful since none of the 4 car parts places had anything in stock. Off to Belleville I go to check the Canadian Tire. Nothing there either. However, the nice guy at the counter checked inventory in other stores and found two in Kingston. So a phone call and third stint on the highway sends me all the way back to K-Town. At this point I call Rob saying that I need fuel but should be back in time for him to hit the 3PM session. 17 billion red lights later I roll into SMP at 3:20PM. Once the rad cap was replaced we now can see the rad hoses swell under pressure. This is a good sign. Rob says “get yer kit on, we’re splitting the last session”. I comply with the team manager’s orders. The temps are down a bit, but the car still feels like it’s running on the hot side. We do some more work trying to duct as much air as possible into the rad and then pack it up for the day.
Since I only have 15 minutes of track time under my belt we decide I should take morning practice. My best lap is a miserable 2m15s. I was not feeling comfortable out there at all, in fact I did a little bit of high speed farming coming out of corner ten. Good news is no harm done. Bad news is that even early in the morning with air temps in the mid 20s the car is sitting over 200F on the water temp gauge. We’re still debating pulling out of the weekend to preserve the car. But in conversation with Paul Myers, who’s visiting, Rob decides to check the timing on the engine and we get a big surprise. We are running way too much advance. So that gets reset and we button up the car again.
Rob takes the car out for qualifying and pulls off a 2m09s lap. Still not feeling too great as the competition is in the 2m04-05 range. Car is also starting to run rough now, but the temps are stable. So once again the hood goes up and out comes the compression gauge. Hmmm…everything good on compression, but “oh my” the spark plugs don’t look very good on cylinders 3 and 4. Rob being the carburetor voodoo that he is, man pulls out the tools and immediately finds the issue (emulsion tube almost completely backed out). Lunch break brings more confidence that the car is getting to be real solid now. We decide to go for it and run the 1 hour as planned with Rob at the wheel.
The big moment arrives and Rob sets off and immediately starts running 2m09s lap after lap. He then finds some time and starts running 2m08s, finds more time and runs 2m07s for the next few laps, then settles into the 2m06s. Each drop brings a plateau that has lots of consistency, ending with lap after lap of 2m06.1xx. Truly a great drive. Enough so, that Rob capitalizes on other cars’ misfortunes and ends up taking 2nd in class. As he mentioned the Cool Shirt saved the day, as air temps are at 34C and a track temp of 52C. First podium in a few years and well deserved.
My big day today, it’s all me now. Reviewing video from Rob’s race seems to have done something for me as I immediately drop down to a 2m09s in the 10 minute Hard Luck Practice session. I’m feeling good that I might be able to hit my personal goal of a 2m07s lap. I am a bit worried about my immediate competition as they found some newer tires and are starting immediately beside me on the grid. Also, Greg K is immediately behind me on the grid but considerably faster. Greg and I talk about what we hope to do on the start to capitalize on the situation.
The start is almost upon us and the pace lap is very slow, which is probably good as it bunches us up. And off we go, I’m on the inside for the first three corners and really have a great start. I’m ahead of the competition going into corner 4 with Greg right behind me and ahead of the Prelude. I let him by after corner 5 and start working to keep my position. I hold off the Prelude up to corner 10 but he out brakes me on the inside into the corner. Luckily he goes wide on exit and is two wheels off so I get by him and hold the position. Corner 11 and through the esses are good, but I get out braked again on the inside going into corner 13. He pulls ahead out of the corner but I have the inside into 14, unfortunately I lose the drag race up the front straight and he gets by. Now sitting in P3. On this next lap Ted Martin ends up sitting on my bumper going into corner 13 and I over cook the braking zone. Ted gets by. I don’t know he’s in the car and think it’s his son Nick driving, who is also a rookie. This will be my downfall for the next 7 laps, as I think I can hassle him into making a mistake. We’re about a second or two faster than Ted at this point as he is having tire problems. But Ted is too wily to make the mistake I need to get by him. At the same time I’m being hassled by Dave Shep in the blue Sentra. So not only am I fighting to get back 3rd, I’m trying to preserve 4th. A red flag due to a grass fire brings us all to a stop on the front straight.
On the restart the pit window is now open so the team decides I should come in immediately to get some free space on track. The beginning of the stop is awesome and goes without a hitch. Leaving my stop, I somehow forget that our rev limiter will affect ALL gears the same way and not just 3rd gear. After a few seeconds of wondering if I broke a drive shaft or something I realize my error, turn off the limiter and get going. Plenty of free space on track so I push hard and crack off a 2m08s and several consistent 2m09s laps. I totally get by Ted/Nick as their pit stop is long. I’ve got a 30 second gap and need to protect it. However, the Martins realized that their tire pressures were way too high and let out some air. Nick starts cracking off some low 2m07s and high 2m06s laps. The tire changes obviously are working, or Nick is way faster than Ted. With 7 laps to go Nick out brakes me into corner 11 and takes 3rd place in class. I attempt to keep to a head of him for the next lap but over cook the exit on corner 8 and go two wheels off driver’s right and lose momentum. From that point on I just don’t have the pace to catch up. I also start getting tired and making a few mistakes. In fact, I go four wheels off on the exit of corner 7 due to not braking enough with only two laps left in the race. Time to calm down and finish this puppy. In the end I finish the race in 4th out of 8 GT5 class cars and 11th overall. Although a good finish for my third career race I did not achieve my personal goal. Still a great race with lots of great experience to learn from.
The race video can be found on vimeo: DAC Trillium Trophy Race 2, July 16-17, 2011
Oh and I now qualify for an A class race license, as I received my third novice signature.