2010 Sundown GP

This weekend, Team 00 was at Mosport for the three-hour Sundown GP endurance race Saturday evening. Jay and I shared #00, the car we bought in Dallas. It’s a basically stock (but race-prepped) Acura Integra Type-R.

I didn’t go down for the Friday practice, so it was only a single day of racing for me.

I took the first practice session Saturday morning to get familiar with the car. I have not driven #00 in over a year. I started slow, as seems to be my standard. The times started at 1:49.5, which is very slow, but in 10 laps I was able to bring the lap times down to 1:45.2. This was good improvement, but still far off the pace. I felt terrible – my best time our (now dead) Honda Civic was a 1:44.228. I should have been much faster in the Type-R.

Jay took the car out for the qualifying later in the morning and pulled off a 1:43.698, almost 2 seconds faster than my best in the morning. I was really hard on myself trying to figure out why I was not on the pace.

The results printouts from timing did not show the position in class, so we were not sure exactly were we slotted within our class. We debated changing our class from GT-4 to GT-5, as the times we have acheived so far were in the middle of the GT-5 class. In the end, we didn’t change and set our sights on just competing as best we could – during an enduro race the laptimes for everyone are lower than during a sprint race. This is due to a heavier fuel load and to protect the car and motor during the much longer race.

#00 by PicsByVicsr

The race started at 5pm. I took the start of the race. This time, we had our radios installed and running – Ron was on the pit wall calling out laptimes and other information.

I had a good start, keeping my position. I had a few cars to chase, but eventually the pack had spread out enough that I was spending a lot of time by myself, working on taking each corner a little bit faster each time.

I grew more confident and drove smoother as the race went on. I worked on my race line. And I got to lap a few of the slower cars, which is something I don’t have a lot of experience with. When I’ve been lapping cars in the past, I was not aggressive enough. So I worked on making better passes under braking and in corners and getting more aggressive in general.

There was a little drizzle about half-way through my stint, but not enough to make it interesting.

We switched drivers and fueled the car just before the half-distance mark. I had about 75 to 80 minutes in the car. The fueling was without drama and the switch to Jay went well. I stayed in my race suit in case I was need to help with fuelling the other Team 00 cars.

I reviewed the printout of the laptimes so far, and found that I had been able to pull off a 1:40.767, which was a great improvement – nearly 5 seconds better than my morning practice. I was much happier than I had been in the morning.

Jay was consistent during his stint, but was in the high 1:43’s.

Lap Times
Lap Times (http://casc.mylaps.com)

Jay came in after about 80 minutes. He said that it seemed like the car was out of fuel, so we put in another jug. Seeing that I still had my race suit on, Jay suggested that I get back in the car. Not one to turn down an opportunity, I put on my helmet and gloves and climbed back in the car.

For some reason, the car would not start, so we had to bump-start it to pull out of the pits.

As the car and tires were still hot, I wanted to push right away. The car was working great, and I had lots of confidence in the tire grip.

#00 by PicsByVicsr

After 6 laps, as I exited Turn 1, on the short run to the top of Turn 2, the motor cut out completely. I thought that perhaps it was the same problem that we had in the pit during the second pitstop. As the car coasted, I selected third then second gear and attempted to bump-start the car, but the motor would not catch. As I cruised along the outside of Turn 2, down the hill, it was obvious that it was not going to start, so I coasted the car over to the cut-out in the wall on the right between Turn 2 and Turn 3.

The checkered flag was displayed about 9 minutes later – we had completed about 171 of 180 minutes.

After the race, I was towed back to the paddock and we could take a look at the car. At first, it looked like the oil level was very low, which scared me thinking that I might have broken the motor (oil starvation). We tried to figure out if the dry sump was working correctly or if it had been turned on at all. When I was out for the final few laps, no warning lights had came on – the motor just cut out suddenly. If it was really an oil problem, there should have been engine warning lights on the dash.

Next, we found the culprit. One of the battery terminals was broken and was not making enough contact. This would have cut the electrical to the ignition in the motor. That would explain why the motor just cut out and why I could not bump-start it – no juice to the spark plugs. Replacing a battery contact is much less expensive than replacing the motor!

We got the printout of the final results and found out that in fact we were classed in GT-3! Holy cow! A serious paperwork mistake. We were competing against a Porsche 911 GT3, not the cars we thought we were competing against. In that class (which has laptimes of 1:32), we were hopeless. All the effort, and it was basically for nothing [had we finished] because we were in the wrong class.

Sunday morning, we packed up and left the track at lunch time.

The results are available on http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=539050

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