Friday, December 20, 2013

Road Atlanta 8hr Enduro - the first 1/2.

Altogether, DriveGear would be supporting 3 team cars in the 8hr Enduro - all SpecE30's.  A red, blue and white one.

I would be in the red #89, along with Johnathan and James.  With James having raced at Road Atlanta in an e30 before - and having been there last weekend - myself and Johnathan both took a spin during the 45min practice session that started at 8am.  I took about 5 laps which were my first ever in an BMW SpecE30.  The car basically felt like I was told, like a Miata but more powerful and much softer suspension wise.  Brakes felt good and the car was mostly neutral; shading to understeer.
Nobody was too keen on starting the race, so we volunteered James as he has the most experience on both the track and with an e30. 

The race started at 9am.  I'd be stint #2.  We were figuring 1:30 - 1:45min stints for a full fuel load.  The fun for the DriveGear team started right away partially because of a very wet track to start the day.  The white #88 went off in T1 and needed help to get out that brought a double-yellow.  It would then have some overheating issues that were assumed to be related to pulling the engine recently.  It came in a few times and a hose was swapped and sent back out.
The red #89 had a worse fate; getting caught in the middle of a 3-car stackup on the backstraight that sent it into the wall and would end it's weekend altogether.  With 1 car overheating and another OUT in the first hour of an 8hr race, I wasn't sure what was going to shake out!  The team got to work on a new plan - they were pulling out a 4th car, a red 00 out of the trailer to sub in for the wrecked red #89.  I was told I would be swapped into the blue #87 instead and it would be in within an hour as it just had it's first pitstop - along with a complaint of a 'missing' issue.  Wow... what a crazy opening opening hour!

In hour #2, the white #88 came in again for overheating.  While still trying to figure out the overheating, it was discovered to be leaking oil and was pulled behind the wall.  Apparently the early 'off' did more damage than initially thought.  It cracked the oilpan and pulled off some of the belts - thus causing the overheating!  About this time the red #00 was on it's way replacing the wrecked red #89 and the team got to work fixing up the white #88.  I was gladly surprised at how calm the entire DriveGear remained throughout all this.  They calmly went to work on each of the cars that had issues and got ALL of them fixed up.  Likewise I was calmly informed I would be swapping to the blue #87 since the red #89 was out - prior to that I really had no idea what would come of the race for me!

Around 11am the blue #87 came in and my first stint was about to begin.  There was some reports from the first driver of a 'sputtering' or 'missing' issue that I was instructed to help diagnose.  We were hoping he was just confused by the rev limiter, but I would find out.  Turns out, it wasn't the rev limiter.  I spliced together some video from the first stint showing how we treated, diagnosed and eventually fixed the issue.  Check it out: 

The issue.... Basically whenever the car turned left (really only 3 times per lap) it would lose power.  As the course is mainly right-handers, I could drive around it and being < halfway through an 8hr Enduro I knew that was our best plan.  After about 45min-1hr into my stint I had a lot of traffic backed up behind me going into the mainly left-hander (T5) and felt the car was close to causing a stack-up, so that's the first time I came in and really where the video starts.
Long story short, we figured it out and the car was a hell of a lot more fun to drive afterwards and I worked in learning the track and the e30 and dropping my laptimes.
Towards the end of my stint I noticed the white #88 back out and played some cat-and-mouse with it and another yellow e30.  So much better with a car running at 100%.  Around 1pm I completed full fuel load stint (stint #1) and pulled the car into the pits - with the race scheduled to end at 5pm.  I pushed for a few hotlaps at the end and managed a 1:49.5. 

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