It was a beautiful thing this May 24 weekend. The weather was amazing, the cars were ready, and I was pumped to go racing. Having just done a one hour race at Mosport only two weeks prior, I was feeling very warmed up and ready to hustle Mosport.
The first race of the year always brings an exciting tingly feeling to my stomach. I have the craving to go flat down 4 and to bounce the corner 2 bump and rip half sideways almost in the dirt on the exit of ten. You also have to wonder whether or not the cars will be competitive, if some other teams have come out with something bigger and better for the season.
Well on the Friday test day I must say that my car was hustling hard. I was doing consistent mid 1:29s in practice whenever I got a clear lap, and the car felt like it was spot on setup wise. As the tires wore the rears fell off before the fronts, but on the first couple of laps I could really hustle the thing. It was cool that morning, and with 20 pounds of boost and new front calipers with softer knockback springs the car had more back straight speed than ever before. The shift lights were coming on in 5th gear and I was actually blowing corner 8 because I was going faster than expected! The car did have a little bit of mid-corner push too which was making it difficult to tuck into 8 and get the car rotated – but it had amazing attitude on throttle.
Our 3rd car was completed and testing for the first time of the season, and I couldn’t believe how flawlessly it ran. If memory serves me correctly it didn’t have a single problem all weekend. If it did have any problems they were so small that the crew didn’t even consult me about them!
Bob was running well in practice also – so all three cars were running well, at speed and more or less without problems. Until the differential fell out of the back of my car. Always me.
Sadly we fought with the god damn diff for three hours trying to extract the bolt that sheared (yes this has happened before!), repair the axle boot that had come off, and inspect the rest of the drivetrain for damage. I mean when a 60lb differential case falls out of the car, at speed, with axles spinning at 100km/h, and a driveshaft spinning 3.5 times faster – you can imagine the disaster that can be created.
Magically, everything was fine. The diff went back in place, the axle boot back on. Nothing was ripped or torn, and the exhaust system actually supported the diff enough to keep it from hitting the ground and ripping the diff cooler line! Amazing.
I shook the car down in another practice session and apart from a slight vibration, the car was pretty good.
Saturday morning came around, and we all had a discussion about the B-Spec cars in the drivers meeting. Oh B-Spec cars. A B-Spec car is basically taking the slowest car you can buy from a dealer, and putting a restrictor on it. The only modifications allowed are springs/shocks and tires (that I know of). Put some wild drivers in them and it makes for quite the class! But they are difficult for us to pass, especially if there are many cars racing in close proximity.
Qualifying time. Everyone left WAY too early and didn’t listen to the rules at all, as expected. We left 3 min early which I thought was aggressive enough, but we got to the mock grid in something like 10th position.
As I was trying to blast through the grid to get a gap and put down a hot lap, I managed to attempt to go 3 wide into 4. In hind sight the mere mention of going 3 wide into 4 is obviously a mistake. But at the time it really felt like the right thing to do. Watching the video you can make some sense of it, but it’s still 99% retarded. So as we approached the bottom of 4 and there was no more road for me left to navigate, I flew off the track at over 160km/h, full lock sideways, praying that I wouldn’t hook a wheel and flip.
Thankfully we came to a stop rather peacefully, and I was able to re-start the engine. At this point in time, I was feeling as though all of the sim racing practice I had been getting was not infact making me any faster, just a hell of a lot more aggressive. As I watched the top of 4 from my parking spot at the bottom of the hill on the entry to 5, I slowly waited for a gap in traffic of the 40 something cars on track. Eventually a small gap came, and as quickly as I could I drove back onto the track. Sadly though, it was not so much driving as it was smashing back onto track. There was about an 8 inch drop from the dirt and curbing onto the track, and I destroyed the front bumper / splitter while re-entering the track. Sad really, since the initial slide didn’t hurt a thing! As I got back on the track I also almost smashed into another car in 5b, as he got into my blind spot (everywhere is a blind spot in that car) as I re-entered the track.
I was somehow still able to manage to qualify 3rd while shaking the dirt out of the car with a splitter that was grinding itself into the asphalt. More amazing perhaps was that the series did not throw me for being below ride height, which is a great sign that the series is listening to the competitors (no one wants people to DQ/DNF because of damaged bodywork hanging too low).
So we had a few hours between qualifying and the first race to fabricate new splitter supports, and thankfully due to the fact that we were organized this year we had a spare front lip and splitter, so the actual bumper assembly went together in next to no time. It really felt good to be prepared in that respect, it made the difference of being able to run the race competitively (with a splitter) and just going around to get points (which it would have been if we were spliter-less).
We made it – and Race 1 was basically me trying to hunt Audette. I got a good start, followed Matheiu through the inside of one and Scott tucked in behind. I was able to hold Matt for a few laps, but on the 4th or 5th lap he just started walking away from me by a few tenths a lap. I had him in a few corners, every time, but he consistently had a few tenths on me in power, and on the exit onto the back straight. Something about front wheel drive cars but they seem to get a shot out of tight 90 degree corners better than a rear wheel drive car.
Sunday was not much different, except that I was able to hang on Matt’s bumper a little bit longer – but picked up a bad vibration towards the middle of the race. It turns out our camber arms are vibrating loose from the knuckle, resulting in almost 3/4″ of play at the wheel!!!
Bob finished the Sunday race in 3rd, which was amazing considering the competition ahead of him. He got a great start – infact the stewards thought his start was too good – and penalized him two positions for it! He also ran a consistent and fast pace all race, which is really the key in this series.
Jonathan did great all weekend – I think mentioning that he had never run at Mosport so fast, and he really seemed to be all smiles after each session in the car.
One of these days either Bob or Jonathan is going to beat me! I will be proud when that day comes, although equally upset.
All in all, I was really happy that we successfully ran 3 cars for both races, all of them finishing in the top 10 both races, and none of them having any real mechanical issues during the races.
If we can keep up this kind of reliability, one of these three cars just has to win the championship!
I’m feeling pretty good about the Formula One race in Montreal coming up in two weeks, and am hoping that we are successful there. I have ordered some different pads, and am making some further technical changes to the car in hopes that we will improve our performance at Montreal. The Audettes are hard to catch, esspecially since they are 425lbs lighter than we are this year – but I have faith that we can do it. Will it be at Montreal? I’m not sure. Mosport is certainly our best track, but Montreal is good too 🙂