Thursday, September 01, 2005

AAL GTR Series: Round 4

Round 4 at Fern Bay Black was all about preserving the tyres for a 1 stop strategy...

Look out!

I was happy to qualify in 7th position, although that meant I was behind a sea of SCR cars (and a few aliens). I wasn't to sure how my tyres would go under racing conditions but from my testing I found that they could last over 14 laps. Going by those figures I thought I'd be able to hold on till the end of lap 15, taking the rolling start into account. I also made sure I added more than enough fuel for 15 laps and set my pit stop for just over 14 as a safety measure.

After one false start we were racing and almost right away I made up a few places. Over the next few laps Boxhead, Bugle and myself managed to brake away from the pack while Sambo and Chaz disappear off into the distance. At this point the 3 of us were just following each other around waiting for someone to make a mistake. I could see that Boxhead was starting to have issues with the rear tyres and then as we came into the hairpin before the 2nd chicane he went a bit wide and I got through. I decided not to push to hard in case my tyres didn't last the distance and at this point I turned on the tyre wear indicator.

Getting lucky

A few laps later it looked like Bugle managed to get past Boxhead in the same place and started catching me. I wasn't to sure what I was going to do at this point, I knew my tyres were not going to last as long as I planned. I also knew it would be hard for Bugle to pass me on this track with so many high speed corners making it hard to stay close, causing a lack of down force. In the end I just held my line and kept driving at a speed which would preserve the tyres.

At the end of lap 14 I decided to come into the pits (scared that I would blow a rear) which meant I would have to get one more lap than I had planned out of the second set of tyres. By this point Bugle was just a second or so behind me but he stayed out a fair bit longer before pitting. This had me thinking that he would surely pass me once he had completed his pit stop. I guess one of the things that saved me was that I had more fuel in the tank when I pitted, so I didn't need to wait as long to fill up. I was also lucky that when I rejoined the race I was in clean air and at this point I turned off the wear indicator (it was better not to know).

On the lap Bugle pitted I kind of lost the plot, went wide onto the grass and tapped the wall coming out of a turn near the end of the lap. I was now sure that he would be in front of me when he rejoined the race. To my delight though, just as I past the pit exit he was making his way back onto the track. Although by the next turn he was right up my arse again and had some great speed.

A little dirty but still good

After following me around for a number of laps I could see that Bugle was getting a good idea of where he could over take me. His best bet was the left turn just after the 2nd chicane, because it looked like he could hold at least 10km/hr more than me through it. Most other places in the track were to hard to stay close because of the dirty air, but I could see he knew what he was doing and it was only a matter of time.

On lap 27 I was a bit slow out of the 2nd chicane and Bugle pounced. All I could do was move to the middle of the road and hold my line. I could see him in my rear mirror gaining fast when he pulled to the inside. I'm guessing after he pulled out of my slip stream he locked a wheel because all I could hear at this point was the sound of screeching tyres. I decided not to look left to see what was going on but just run a bit wide and leave enough room for the both of us. To my surprise we didn't touch, no one spun and I had managed to hold my position. Bugle was still close but with only one lap to go I thought I might be able to do it... hold a 3rd place finish (all be it a minute behind the leaders).

If I close my eyes everything will be ok

At the end of that lap Bugle pulled off into the pits with a front right flat and I took it easy on the last lap to make sure I made it. My congratulations go to Chaz for the win, Sambo for the 2nd and Bugle for the great clean race we had (pity you were unlucky at the end though).


Anonymous said...

Great review and pics Astro!!

AstrO said...

Thanks Pixel :)

Did you see my message with the code for the sorting of drivers?

Anonymous said...

good race :> well not for me, I span out so much, but was fun being in div A for once.