With sprint season over, it was time to turn to the 2 hour and 8 hour endurance fall race, a part of the Festival of Endurance that is held each year to end the ICSCC season locally.
With the Track Attack #209 done for the year (separate blog post on that to follow), we decided to campaign the Track Attack #226 sister car, which belongs to our Architect, Manu Yareshimi! This car is bad @$$ and one of the best prepared PRO3 cars in existence. Manu purchased it from a solid driver and even better person, James Colborn and has been using it in his first year of club racing.
After obtaining his competition license, he experienced the joy of ‘shifting’ his engine and it was down for a couple of months, being rebuilt and readied for the endurance race.
The plan was to campaign the #226 in the 2 Hour race (with Manu and I [Gama Aguilar] co-driving) and the 8 Hour race (with Manu and two other guest drivers). Further, I would drive a Spec E46 car for the first time, partnering with Grip Racing to drive the Red Bull #95 in the 8 hour endurance race. I would be co-driving with two other drivers (Rob Dunn and Chuck Hurley). I have been looking forward to this opportunity as we’ll likely make the move to Spec E46 in 2017 with a build starting in 2016.
Saturday AM Practice
As Saturday of the race approached, the weather forecasted shifted from sunny to rain, to partly cloud and back to rain several times. By Friday night, it was expected that in the wee hours of Saturday AM showers would hit Portland but then stay dry and cloudy until around 8pm PST that evening, right around the last hour of the 8 hour race. The rain came through and that morning it was cool, wet on the track and even more wet on the grass.
I went out first in the Spec E46 on rain tires and upon hitting the first straight away, realized that my 5’6″ frame could operate the car BUT my arms were just barely not long enough to easily shift into 5th gear. FTML! After 15 minutes of getting used to the car, how careful you had to be on throttle application and initiating the brakes, I came back in to let Chuck and Rob have a go.
Then it was time to get a few minutes into the #226 PRO3 car as the 2 hour race would start within 20 minutes of practice concluding. Unfortunately, the ice rink like conditions got the best of Manu and he went off track. We spent the remaining time making repairs and my first time in the car would be when I would go in for the closing stint of the 2 hour race.
2 Hour Race
Manu started the race and though we had a good qualifying position, it was still damp and we were going out in dry tires (Toyo RR’s) so we gave him guidance to just slowly warm up, get into a groove and not worry about fighting for position. Just drive. That’s exactly what he did and it was great! He did go down one lap but he steadily improved and kept the car on track as the surface dried.
The first hour came and went fast and next thing you know, it was my turn to jump in the car for the 2nd hour. Right as we were prepping the pit area for the car to arrive, we saw big plume of tire smoke at pit entry and unfortunately Manu came in a little hot and locked up the front left tire (the most important tire). No matter, he came in, we did the driver change, refueled and got me going on track.
Immediately as I came on track I merged right in front of the lead car. We had un-lapped ourselves in the pit stop but now I had my work cut out for me to keep him behind me and ideally try to go all the way around the track and get the position back. Turns out, our competitor was on his A-game and even though I had performed much better against him in the past at PIR, in the #209 PRO3 car – it was not to be.
I battled with him the entire race, gaining distance against him but only to catch slower traffic and have him catch right up. About half way through the stint, I realized I wouldn’t be able to really pull away and catch him, so the goal was to just put down clean laps and focus forward. All was going to plan until the last 5 minutes of the race. The lock up earlier caused a slight flat spot and throughout the race, I could tell if I didn’t baby the tire on certain turns, it would chirp and tug. Then all of a sudden, it got worse and that gave our competition all it needed to put the pressure on.
The last 3-4 laps were extremely tough – I had to be extra gentle on the tire, especially in turn 12 (last turn before the main straight), giving our competition a run. Luckily the #226 engine (with a new head assembly) is stout and a great brake setup, so was able to hold him off in the braking zone for turn 1.
We ended up finishing in 2nd, putting down the fastest lap of the race for ME2 and having a blast. Every single second of every single lap in that 2nd hour stint was with a strong competitor on my back, working our way through traffic or having much faster cars blowing past.
We’ll cover 8 hour in a second post. In the meantime, thanks to Austin from Flying Bye Photo for being a driving force behind the enduro and for the awesome pictures!