Week 5 review – Advanced Solstice @ Summit Point Raceway!

My Helmet Design Summit Point Raceway Laguna Seca

This week has the Advanced Solstice back at Summit Point Raceway, so we have completed the first loop of four weeks (the same four week rotation occurs three times to make a twelve week season). Every track I will race for the rest of the season I will have raced before, which is good.

Returning to this track saw me load my setup (that I had prepared four weeks ago). Wow, I didn’t realise I had the tyre pressures so low in that setup! Since then I had discovered that you have to run high psi in the Solstice and so I tinkered a little to boost the tyre pressures. Ultimately it didn’t seem to provide a faster lap time but I didn’t really put in too many laps.

Again, this week I decided to take my weekly race early in the week, and so on Sunday night I dived into the 6:30pm race. I had a good quali time so was gridded second, but the polesitter had a big margin over me. I was also rated #3 for the race so I wasn’t sure at the strength of field for the race. Given that the polesitter had such a strong lap time advantage I knew I wouldn’t really be in a position to challenge, so I hoped for a clean start and a safe race.

We got off the grid well, and navigated through the first corner successfully. The leader quickly started pulling away and was around one second a lap faster than me. The fight between the third place racer and myself was a little closer but thankfully I had a few tenths every lap in my pocket so I wasn’t being harassed. I built a few seconds buffer in the early laps and then I maintained some pace to ensure they didn’t start to gain on me during the race. I was praying for a mistake from the leader but sadly it was not to come.

It was an uneventful race but even a dull race is exciting when you’re behind the wheel. Every lap is a challenge and it’s important to keep focus. I netted 124 points for second place which I was completely happy with (puts me well above my 100 points goal for the week). A good finish early in the week means I will look to other series for my other races this week.

Unfortunately I haven’t really spent much time in the time trial mode this week, so haven’t really set a really strong time. Despite this I’m still in the top 25 (and well under the top 20 at that) but I expect my position to fall rapidly as we approach the end of the week.

After I finished my Solstice race I took this opportunity to try out the Formula Mazda, as the series is at Laguna this week so I can get up to speed quickly. I’ve only run about 50 laps so far but immediately it is apparent that a poor (or baseline) setup can really hurt your laptime. Unlike the Solstice where you can take any setup and drive it close to your PB, the Mazda on a wrong setup will really register poor laptimes. After my first few laps on the baseline setup I was around three seconds off the pace (compared to the Solstice @ Laguna where I am probably one second off the pace).

I acquired a Mazda setup from the internet and unlocked some pace immediately so my best lap after around 50 laps is a 1:21.9 which is still really far off where I think I can be with this car. That said I considered that this was the only week where I would be comfortable driving the Mazda this season and so I tried a few races.

The first race was unofficial with just three entrants – but honestly it was ideal for me because I could practice a Mazda race without having any impact to my iRating. It went well, and I had consistent pace with just two incidents. I picked up a win but obviously this doesn’t get reflected in my career stats.

So I joined an evening race and this time there were 17 opponents! My qualifying time had put me 4th and I was 6th highest rated driver by iRating. Before starting I decided a top half finish (i.e. 9th) and a safe race would see me happy with my effort. It was a really interesting race and I enjoyed it immensely. I’m had a great start from 4th and though I wouldn’t go crazy into turn one (especially at Laguna) I really had to try and pass 3rd before the first corner, and it worked out. I pressed on in 3rd, driving consistent mid 22′s and nudging out tenths at a time against 4th placed racer. It was very intense, driving with such concentration for 40 minutes – you really don’t get much of a breather between the corners in such a fast car! Towards the end of the race Rory King had an issue and had to reset and so I picked up 2nd place, with zero incidents and +77 iRating points. Hopefully I’ve bumped my SR very nicely with such a long incident free race!

I’ll probably not race the Mazda again this season as I don’t own many of the future tracks yet, and the ones that I do, I’m not familiar with. Still, it was a fun preview into the future season with the Mazda!

One good (great) thing this week is that I have finally nailed a 4.99 safety rating for my D road licence. I can keep improving this behind the scenes and when I get my C licence at the end of the year I can hope to start it off on a high 4.xx rating. I have also been accumulating my iRating quite nicely too, and as I write this it is at 2377, with my ttRating at 1386.

The other good thing is that I received my $15 iRacing credit (for subscribing for a year) so I decided I would invest in the Late Model. I don’t own many of the tracks to run the season yet but I can use it at South Boston in October and if it works out I might run it in a future season.

My SolsticeFormula Mazda

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