Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Putnam Park - 1st in TTA - 5-12-2012

After running the Enduro on Friday afternoon/evening, I awoke at 6:45am Saturday tired and sore.  I still had to unload, unpack the car, and do some prep but that was about it.  Our warmup wasn't until after 10am so it was relaxed.  For the warmup I lined up around grip spot #3 I think and after waiting 1 lap for things to come up to temp I put down an easy 1:17.9 to earn #2 in grid.  I then went to tech and got weighed since I still had no solid idea of what the car weighed post-cage.  It came in at 3198 lbs; which was about 50 lbs over what I was claiming for the day so I was pretty happy with that given the current fuel load. 

Session 2 was at noon and I made no changes and fired a 1:17.0 which slotted me first in class and first overall.  I hit traffic very quickly as there were 44 cars in TT on Putnam's 1.7 mile course.  Also someone nailed the hay bails in the final turn so we had a few sitting on the exit of T10 which was right in the line - and after 2 laps of that I seen the double yellow.  I was probably going 130mph when I seen it, closing in on 2 lower classed cars probably going 95-100mph but I made the passes safely before the flagstand and tucked in behind the traffic.  Oddly though that traffic was another car giving pointby's that was off pace.  By the time I realized it I'd been re-passed by a few cars - I think this confused some cars as other passing from other cars ensued and only 1 was called in for passing under double-yellow.

For S3 I made a few small tweaks and ran a best of 1:17.2 but the car was really starting to slide at this point.  Wasn't sure if it was the heat - sunny and around 85 - or the tires giving up.  I figured a bit of both.  I know I was starting to drop 1-2 tires into the dirt in multiple corners on exit as the car just wouldn't hold and would slide.  It made 'catching' the slides a bit interesting and fun but I knew this wasn't going to be faster.  I was also given the pleasure of the 'meatball' flag and when I came in was told my exhaust was rubbing and throwing sparks.  This shocked me as there was no audible difference.  When I got back to my paddock spot I seen the brace by the rear axle had broken and it was hanging low and would need a bandaid!  I recently had another bracket re-welded and perhaps with that being tighter, me dropping tires and that rear brace being rewelded back in 2009 - the extra pressure caused it to break again.  Either way I had 2 hours to fix it, and with my idea and some help from a friend it was pretty simple.  (see pic)

For S4 I adjusted the suspension a touch to try and aid rotation/grip assuming things would be worse if the tires were the problem.  I had my answer in the first lap; it was the tires!  I ran 3 hard laps right around 1:18.3 until I hit traffic, then I played for another 1-2 and drifted.  I actually had a few people ask who left the drift marks in certain turns as I was at least having fun!  At this point I new the tires were shot, having 12-16 Heatcycles each.  Also good news was that our exhaust fixed had held up just fine.  My time from S2 would hold to land me 1st place in TTA by about 3 seconds - but I was 1.3 seconds off my record from 2011 when I was on wider stickier rubber.  But considering the tires I came with I thought the car did very well - running times right where I thought we would.  Power was smooth and rotation was great with no understeer; just an overall lack of grip especially at turn-in from the worn tires. 
Vid from Sat; A lap each from Sessions 2 & 3 from different angles:

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