Saturday, August 15, 2009

(87) Fair fight

Well, it wasn't the greatest race ever, but I could've done a lot worse.

The day started out at pretty much ideal temp. I was pretty much up to race speed in the kart by lap 3 or 4 of the first session. The grip started to go away during the later half of the 2nd practice session. This track seems to lose grip once the temp gets past about 85 or so.

I had a decent run in qualifying. I got the pole with a 54.39, but I wasn't any faster than my previous practice sessions. The big development was my rival, who had some sort of mechanical issue with the kart (we're still not sure what happened, might have been bad carb jets, might have been a rubbing brake rotor). It just wouldn't accelerate like it should have. So he got 4th. It's sort of an empty-feeling pole because my rival had a mechanical. Kinda like winning under a yellow. I'd prefer if it was a fair fight.

Of course, my rival selected a new kart to do battle with and we gridded up for the main. Being pole, I had the inside. My row partner tried to take pace control away just before the start and kind of jumped the gun a bit, but I handily outbraked him into turn 1 and established a working gap, which I held for 3 laps.

At the end of the 3rd lap, my rival went by into kramer. I never got that corner down this weekend and I paid the price, and then again in lap 7 when I got passed again and put squarely into 3rd place.

Slight overdriving, added weight (5 lbs), the hot temps and a couple somewhat large mistakes kept me from launching more than one (botched) assault in an attempt to regain 2nd. At the end of the day I lost 2 places and finished 3rd. I'm not really pleased with how I did, it's not the result I was after, but it's not bad. Could have done way worse. At the end of the race my fastest lap was 54.761, which is a lot slower than qualifying, but 4th's fastest was 54.762, only 1 thousandth of a second slower.

Round 7 helmet cam footage. Watch the cooldown for a slightly dissappointed Gato. The audio is slightly delayed for whatever reason.

On a brighter note, one of the coaches, Mike Hill, is starting his 2009 Indy Lights season next Sunday at Infineon with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Watch it and support him!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

(86) If you call it a livery, it costs twice as much

We got new liveries (stickers) today. In fact, they match my suit perfectly.

New livery (stickers)! They must have used my suit as a template. Presumably, they'll cost more when they tear off...

Practice itself went alright. The first 2 sessions were a bit rough, and the 3rd was a tenth slower than normal, but the 4th session felt really good. In the first session I had a tire pressure imbalance, and that kinda threw the balance of the kart off (not to mention pulling left on the straights). The Jim Russell team fixed it pronto, though. Of course, I was the fastest all day.

The temps were ideal in the first two sessions, but the track got overheated for the last two, so we lost some grip. The supermoto guys also ruined our track, but the ProKarters on Saturday will clean it up and we'll have a lot more grip.

I think the struggle today was using my eyes. I've always had notchy steering on the sprint reverse track, and I think it's due to the fact that you have to look almost completely sideways to lock onto the apex point of both the sweeper and turn 1. So in the first couple of sessions I was looking at a point somewhat before the apex, realizing I was apexing early, correcting, then losing speed mid-corner as I re-focused on the apex. I more or less fixed it in the last two sessions, but while turn 1 felt great, the sweeper requires me to look so far to the side I actually can't see the wheel any more. When I do that, my hands just sort of do their own thing and I apex early anyway. The last couple of laps in the 4th session were getting there, but I still have to work on it on Saturday.

The IndyCar guys were down below, testing and setting up for the next weekend. If you ever get to go to an IndyCar test, do it, because unlike F1 or maybe even NASCAR, the garages are all open, the teams are all available, and there aren't any crowds (there were maybe 100 spectators there).

Helio Catroneves' Penske IndyCar.

I also found a little fleet of Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X's with "Jim Russell" written on the side in one of the end pit garages. This is a new program coming out soon that will allow you to take a Lancer X Ralliart through some drift turns, on an autocross and out on the track for real, for about 900 bucks. IMO, that's the best bang for the buck out of all the sportscar programs I know of. I might be checking it out. Thus is the benefit of sponsorship, and since Mitsubishi is the school's primary sponsor now, I should say something salesman-ish...

Um, the FJR-50 chassis that Jim Russell uses for it's championship is really good, and the Mitsubishi EVO engine in it makes it even gooder, so you should buy an EVO X because it has that same Mitsubishi power*. And since it's a Mitsubishi with a Mitsubishi engine, that makes it even gooderer than the FJR-50.

* Lola Formula 3 chassis not included. But it's not a Mitsubishi, so you wouldn't want it any way.

Also. Double clutch gearbox. I'll just leave you with that for a couple minutes.

Eh? Eh?

Yeah. Might need some work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

(85) No control

With my win last month, I've really tightened down the lead margin on the 3 guys ahead of me. This championship is tough because we're competing against guys in another group, so we have no control whatsoever in their races. All I can do is finish well and hope they mess up. It's still mathematically fair, since you still have to finish better than the other guys.

1st (B group): 1070
2nd (A group): 1064
3rd (B group): 1050
Me (A group): 1022
5th (A group): 940

It's close. Real close. And now there's 4 rounds left, the first of which is this Saturday. Practice on the 13th, race on the 15th.