Team00 was out for the 2011 BEMC Indian Summer Trophy Races at Mosport this weekend, in with the intention of doing better than we did at the first enduro of the year. We had high hopes and spirits that we would have a good weekend.
Jay and Frank left for the track Thursday with Car #40.
On Friday we encountered our first problem – the clutch on Car #00 broke while loading it on the trailer. A quick run to Plus 1 Performance fixed that issue and Steve, Nick and I left for the track with #00 around 6pm.
Arriving around 10pm, I immediately put up my tent. Jay and I shared the tent, as there was not enough room in the RV. I brought many blankets and a tuque; it was only 3 degrees overnight.
Saturday morning I took to the track in #00 for the 15-minute practice session. The track surface was so cold and the tires so old that I had a good scare at the bottom of turn 2. There was little available grip especially on the numerous concrete patches. I only managed a lap time of 1:53, well below the expected range.
Steve also went out for the practice in #40, but only managed 1 lap before he retired with a potential electrical issue. We managed to have a new distributor brought up from Acura East, the dealer in Ajax, and replaced it before the qualifying session.
After a long 2-hour delay to repair guardrail damage in the morning, Steve and Jay went out for a qualifying run. Steve again retired after less than a single lap; we could not find the root cause of the car’s electrical problems. This time, the fuel pump did not seem to be working. Steve was not able to continue and would not start the enduro. Jay took #00 out on old tires and qualified 10th of 13 in class, 30th overall out of 35, with a 1:46.
Jay and I both struggled with second gear during the day. I would normally use it only in Turn 5B. The shifter kept popping out of gear. The workaround was to stay in third gear for that corner.
The afternoon was long, so we had lots of time to prepare the one car for the race. We fuelled it up as much as we could, chose a good set of slightly used tires (i.e. already scrubbed-in) and put together the pit kit.
I made sure I ate a proper dinner this time and was much more relaxed for the start of the race.
During the pace lap, the back of the pack was a mess – the rows were not formed up at all. After a previous experience, I decided to ignore the other drivers to my left and stay right on the bumper of the car directly in front of me. As I was wired up for radio, I heard the call for the start at the exit of Turn 9. I got on the throttle immediately. With the cars all strung out, I found lots of room to move around. I made three positions before the first turn! The other drivers might have been caught out without a radio.
I lost one position when a GT-2 Porsche GT3 went by in Turn 5 and another position when Nicholas Krikorian (GT-1 Subaru) blew by on the back straight. They are both in a faster class and had started behind me.
By the time I came around to complete the first lap, I was in 26th place, as some of the other cars must not have made it to mock grid.
During the first few laps, I had to work hard to hold off Jamie Steenbakkers in a Honda Civic. I believe it was her first time at Mosport, and put up a good fight. I was able to slowly pull away, mostly by capitalizing on my speed in the corners – Mosport is damn intimidating for a first-timer.
I stayed in 26th or 25th place until lap 11 when I started to climb up the charts. By lap 19, I was in 21st place. I had a good race against a Mazda Miata driven by Mike or Peter Adamovits. Sometimes he would get by, but I had higher speed on the long back straight and could take the position back.
By lap 47, I was as high as 19th place, but that was also due to the other teams taking their pit stops.
Steve queried me on fuel state during my 90-minute stint. The first 60 minutes were ok, and I wasn’t lacking for speed. But after that, it became obvious that I would not make it to the 90-minute mark for our only pit stop. We think the bottom half of the tank is smaller than the top half, as we had similar fuel-usage results at the Victoria Day Speedfest.
I had to start short-shifting. At first, I just shifted earlier and earlier, but the fuel level kept dropping. I then started keeping it in fifth gear from the top of the back straight to Turn 9. Eventually, I also upshifted before Turn-2 as well and kept it in fifth-gear until Turn 10. This was not the best solution, as it meant that if I got into trouble I would not have enough torque to pull myself out of a spin. I did everything I could to conserve gas and keep my momentum in the fast corners. My lap times grew from 1:41.529 to 1:46.660 and finally to 1:51.409. That sucked. I kept telling Steve I was loosing places, but we had to keep moving to the 90-minute mark. The motor started starving for fuel in the corners, and yet I kept going. When the motor started starving on the straight, I called in that I had to pit “Now!”
It was close enough to the half-way point that the time for the pit stop would be enough to get us to the end of the race – if Jay could conserve just as much fuel.
During the pit stop, we switched the GoPro HD in the car for another one with new batteries. We found out later that the first GoPro battery died after 15 minutes, so I have little of my half of the race on video.
Jay went out and could start pushing right away. The tires were in reasonable shape and the temperatures were good.
Jay left the pits in 27th place but had to come in for a stop-and-go penalty as we spilled too much fuel during the pit stop.
Jay came back up to 25th place over the next four laps. He stayed in 25th place for the next 12.5 laps.
On lap 75, as he was heading down the hill at Turn 4, the motor made a “pop” sound and died. He used the momentum to pull off after Turn 5B, and parked the car near the woods, out of the way. There were still 35 minutes remaining in the race. It was depressing. We had such high hopes.
I only raced two weekends this year – the two 3-hour enduros. In both cases, the car died before the end. It is the first year of racing where I did not finish a single race.
I did find some positives about the weekend. I had another fantastic start, moving up a number of places. I was able to keep off a challenge from Jamie and had a good scrap with Peter or Mark in the Miata. And I learned about fuel conservation, short-shifting and keeping up my momentum. It was good experience and practice.
Steve and Nick left that night around 10pm. Jay, Frank and I retired to the RV for beers (or Pepsi in my case) and to watch some of our videos. We had a good talk, but I had to fight not to fall asleep – I don’t remember being so exhausted at the end of a race day. We had a quiet trip home Sunday morning.