Track: Grand Bend Raceway (Modified Layout)
Weather Conditions: 40°C (Sunny and F***ing HOT)
On my first session out I didn't touch anything with the car. In fact I even forgot to don my racing slippers. Didn't seem to matter though since I smashed my best practice time by 7 tenths with a 55.36. The car was feeling great. Very consistent power levels and the brakes were holding up very well thanks to the Roo Ducts. I was feeling great too, setting the fastest lap in my class for the morning and also being within the top 4 fastest cars of the day. It was great to finally be able to hang with the big boys! Behind me was Mike Harvey in his 05 STI doing 56's and Alex Li in his widebody bugeye doing 57's.
But this was no time to get comfortable. And if I've learned anything at all from competing in other things, it's that securing your lead is critical. When you're ahead, get more ahead.
Sorry kids, this ride is out of service
It's not pee, I swear!
Since I had only run one session and had the entire day ahead of me, I decided to try and cut some more weight. The passenger seat and washer fluid seemed like the obvious choices to me. If I had to guess I would say the seat weighed around 50 lbs and the washer fluid around 6-7 lbs. Not bad for 30 minutes of labour.
Going out for another session I immediately noticed a handling improvement in Turn 2 while turning left into the "S". Despite having some clean laps I still couldn't do better than my previous session. Best lap was a 55.39.
Some nice battles between Riaan's Z06, Brandon's Civic, Vince's 240sx, and Jimmy's RX-7
Qualifying Lap Times:
Session 1 - 55.36
Session 2 - 55.39
At this point I was feeling that there was nothing more I could do to make my car go faster except lots of seat time. But I only had half a tank of gas left and I still needed some to get back to London the next day. I decided to let the car sit until time attack.
As the afternoon went on, Mike and Alex started to catch up. Mike replaced his worn NT-01's with Hankook TD's and found gobs of time. He was now only 2 tenths behind me with a 55.5. Alex was starting to get the hang of the track and was now in the 56's. This was going to be a close one!
Heat soak was really starting to rear its ugly head. Not with the car but with my body. My shirt was soaked and my head was throbbing. I decided to go buy some ice to cool myself off and to later use it to cool the VMIC. Sitting in Karen's car with the A/C on also helped. Dobaru kept me company in the back seat. I closed my eyes and visualized my run over and over again in my head until CSCS staff came to get me for my run.
Last year on hot days I would blast my A/C in the staging lane and keep myself cool. But this wasn't an option this year and I was dying for the marshal to let us go so I could get some airflow in the car. But airflow equals drag. I like to run with my windows up for this reason. So I kept them up. This was probably a bad idea in hindsight.
The time attack just seemed to fly by. For some reason the car just didn't handle the same way it did in the morning session and I found myself making simple line errors in every lap. In the second lap I even went two-wheels-off and missed a shift on the straight. My first two laps times were shockingly slow so I had to tell myself to snap out of it in lap 3 and focus extra hard on nailing down a good time. Despite that, I still managed to botch my downshift for Turn 1. Instead of double downshifting from 5th to 3rd, I went from 5th to 4th. That mistake alone cost me ~0.6s (see graph below). After my third hot lap, 55.54 was the best I could do. I've had a history of setting a new personal best during time attack runs. But today I broke the pattern and it didn't feel good.
Time Attack Lap Times:
Hot Lap 1 - 55.98
Hot Lap 2 - 57.30
Hot Lap 3 - 55.54
Perfect lap would be 54.9s, still not enough to beat Harvey's 54.6s
The live timing leaderboard wasn't working so I had to get soul crushed the hard way by my friend telling me that Mike did a 54.6. Alex really stepped it up with a 55.8, almost sneaking into 2nd.
I need to start charging for lawn service
I finished in 2nd place. After qualifying in 1st place, this was a bitter feeling. And given how I drove during the time attack, I was probably lucky to have come in 2nd too. In hindsight though, had I driven a perfect lap, 54.6 would still have been difficult to beat. Mike drove one hell of a time attack and he definitely earned this win.
For Next Time:
In the future, I'll have to figure out a way to deal with these hot days. Heat stroke is real and can seriously affect your judgement.
I also need to get some more practice with the 6-speed. I've driven the 6-speed four times on track this year and I'm still missing shifts.
Also, after re-watching my videos I've determined that my lines have gotten worse this year. I'm going faster purely by power and grip, as proven by my Saturday practice on the ZII's. It could be that I need to sort the handling out so the car understeers less. This will naturally allow me to point the car where I want it. But some focus back on the fundamentals is still necessary.
Practice, practice, practice.
See you in Round 3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.