Well the short off-season is over and we are back at the historic Sebring International Raceway for round 1 of the SARRC SCCA championship. The same circuit I was racing at back in December with the same team and car. The weather was around the same, overcast and cool. We arrived at the track later than we anticipated because of some last minute issues back in the race shop. So that meant no practice, which is no problem because my confidence and previous knowledge was all I needed that weekend. The weekend was a great success for me and a great showing for only having been in the car a handful of times compared to most of the drivers that have been racing for decades. Anyway, I'll break down how the weekend went.
Qualifying in our group consisted of 44+ cars of two or three different classes. This means different closing and cornering speeds. I came out of the pits mid-pack which was a terrible idea. I thought the traffic would be scarce through out the course allowing me to run some decent hot-laps. This was absolutely not the case. I was blocked by several cars as well as being stuck in group of cars taking several laps to move through. This killed my chances of running a decent lap. At the end of the qualifying session, it was clear that I had to fight through the field to receive a decent result. I qualified 28th out of 44.
The race officials split the start into two groups because of the group's size. This meant a slight position change for me, but none the less still a lot of work to do to get up front; starting 20th instead of 28th. The only way I can describe a race start is that it's like hitting a bee hive with a stick and watching the bees swarm everywhere. Replace bees with cars, the hive with the track and the stick as a green flag. The start was hectic, I quickly got the jump on a few cars going into the first corner. The car felt great, it felt like it was on rails. By the end of the first race I had made it all the way to 12th with a healthy lead on the driver in 13th.
Starting 12th and I had little more work cut out for me to be up front with the national drivers. Sitting in 12th is great because I am still learning. I knew I could push harder, so I did just that. On the start, going into the first corner I hesitated and lost two positions. Followed by a mis-shift on the back straight-away losing one more position. I needed to push the car harder than I had in the past, I had to make up for the early mistakes. I started passing cars; one, two, then three a lap. I was in 5th by the time 15 minutes had gone by. I mis-shifted again on the front straightaway allowing 6th and 7th place to pass me. For the next five minutes I would be chasing down the two drivers who had passed me. We came up on lap traffic, a slower car of one of the other slower classes. Unfortunately for me I was the one, out of the three of us, battling for position who had caught up with the lapped car mid-corner, killing my chances of catching up with 5th and 6th. Two laps later 5th and 6th got together coming out of sunset corner. This caused the driver in 5th to find the tire barriers; bringing out a full course caution. The last five minutes of the race were held under a full course caution for clearing the accident from the circuit.
I hope you guys enjoyed my "debrief" of my race weekend! Any how here is a list of up-coming articles:
February 2014 Update
What you may have missed - Jan/Feb Edition
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