Had a great race at Phoenix. Using a setup by Tyler Hudson I enjoyed a really memorable race where I slowly but surely used pit strategy to crawl my way to the front. I gambled on a two tyre stop with around 20 to go and managed to hold on for a strong second place finish. 133 points!
I always seem to get a good result at Summit Point Full so I tend to look forward to racing here. I qualified second and had the best start I’ve ever had. Actually it was so very nearly a jump start as I set off before I’d even seen a green light (a complete mistake) but amazingly, my start actually coincided with the green light and somehow fortune was on my side and I made a cracking getaway!
I didn’t have the pace to win though, and fell back into second, pressing on for a strong finish. Halfway through the race my G25 shifter broke and started giving me upshifts instead of downshifts about 30% of the time (not fun!). I had to nurse my ailing car to the finish for a strong second place, and 135 points.
Now I have to figure out how to replace this sorry shifter without breaking the bank!
Week ten saw the series return to Lime Rock Park for the third and final time. I think this week will actually be the very last time I take a Solstice out at LRP. Not that I don’t like the Solstice (I love it!) but because I don’t get on very well with LRP. There’s something about this short track that requires full commitment and sheer bravery to lap at the very fast laptimes. So many corners are fast entry with very limited run off area, and this combination means that any mistake is usually going to result in a very fast accident, and usually a wall or hard object involved at some point! A 99% lap at LRP is worth almost nothing – I find I can lose a second easily, unless I’m at 100%, ragged edge driving.
I had considered not racing this week, but felt I should at least give it a cursory race, just for the sake of completion. I had a race of 92 points to beat to increase my season tally so far.
I did a few quali sessions to warm up and joined a sparsely populated race session. I was gridded #1 and saw two much faster drivers, so I was a bit dejected and saw the race as a poor opportunity to increase my season score. It wasn’t so bad though, as I started the race from third and managed to steal second place at turn one, thanks to second place running out of road and going cross country. The rest of the race was uneventful – the highlight being seeing the fast second place driver rejoin the order in third place with a handful of laps to go. I had to do some quick sums in my head to calculate how much of a threat he would be, and also what pace I needed to run to be safe. My laptime always goes south in the second half of a race at LRP (a result or tyre overheating, or wear, I don’t know) but it just about worked out OK and I took a comfortable second place result, with no incidents.
After a few weeks of taking my race early in the week, I decided to relax a little bit for the week six return to Lime Rock Park. By Wednesday I hadn’t really put many laps down so I decided to run a few sessions, and the race if I felt like it. I guess part of me doesn’t like to delay the race too long because of the risk of something unexpected causing me to miss the race completely, or the belief that my opponents will generally increase in pace during the week whereas I do not!
That said I put in several sessions in the evening (some quali and TT) and after 37 laps practice I was back in the groove and had 0 incidents. I had a huge issue just before I started the race when I started seeing huge ping times (almost 1000ms) – I was worried that if I joined a race with a connection like that I’d either be booted and get nil points or my car would accumulate a hefty list of incident points!
I took the risk and joined the 10:30pm race, and luckily the connection had resumed back to something raceable.
I would start the race 3rd, and as #3 driver. #1 and #2 drivers were names that were familiar to me and were clearly faster, so already I set my goal for a 3rd at best and a 6th at worst. The start was good and I was able to beat car #1 and take the second spot. However I knew he was a much faster driver and so I was not planning on putting up a significant fight.
Here’s the opening laps, from the cockpit of driver #1 :
I did OK for the opening four laps and he wasn’t all over me as I expected (but certainly faster). On the last corner on lap 3 I made an error on the final corner (SO nearly lost it!!) and I decided not to challenge his passing attempt into turn one. Clearly driver #1 didn’t know how receptive I would be to his pass so his passing attempt was a little messy as he outbraked himself heavily and risked contact. It would have been a situation if I had been pressing hard to keep my place I think. Here’s an external video of the audacious move :
I fell into place in third and had around two seconds to 4th, so I set about consistency in my lap times. One thing I really hadn’t anticipated was my fall off in lap times towards the end of the race! My setup has very high tyre pressures and these are really good for the opening 14 laps, but thereafter they really go off and it takes around 4/10 off my early laptimes. The last few laps were interesting as I saw a new challenger for third ebb away at my lead from around four seconds down to next to nothing. I even had a major moment on the last lap where it seemed my brain was determined to make me crash and I went a bit wide on the penultimate corner of the lap. I was able to keep moving (attracting an off track incident) and I managed to keep third for a very welcome podium and 110 points. Had the race been another lap I would have endured a LOT of pressure, so I was very thankful it finished when it did.
On the whole I am happy with the result – maybe another race on another day would have seen me net a second place but I achieved my goal of getting 100+ points for the week, and I ran nearly 60 laps with just the single incident, so my safety rating should be in fine shape for my C licence.