Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Keep it up

The fifth round of the Detroit SCCA Rallycross Championship, presented by Team Illuminata Motorsport, took place at Bob’s Family Raceway in Clarksville. Having taken the PA class win at round four the Alba Rallysport team aimed to keep up the pace and build on championship points. Recently returning from a successful stage rally debut in Canada the team’s co-driving star Tammy Allan was unable to attend the event due to work commitments overseas. Driver, David Allan, was let off the leash (a dangerous prospect) and as this was the season halfway mark the final standings were far from decided. Anything could happen.
It was a sunny but cool day, which made a change from the heat wave of recent weeks. Dust was going to be an issue without a doubt. PA class was looking desperately sparse as I stood on the start line awaiting the M4 class cars to finish tearing up the twisty track. There were only four cars entered, Jennifer Glass (#64) and I were the regulars. Mark Bates (#4) moved up from SA class in his WRX wagon and returning competitor Rob Backis (#7) in the Subaru Sti had driven all the way from Illinois. True dedication.
I like the track at Bob’s. Not just because we’ve won there in the past, which undoubtedly gives a psychological edge that should not be underestimated, but it’s very close to Alba Rallysport HQ! It’s the only event where we don’t have to get up before 8am to make registration and I like that. There was a new format to this event and one that turned out to work very well; 3 runs, 5 laps each. Run 1 was clean and it was nice to be back behind the wheel of the AWD Subaru WRX. There wasn’t much of a gap between runs to compare times but I had to step it up, as dark horse Backis (#7) in the Sti was only 0.005min off the pace and snapping at my heels. I rolled up to the start line for run 2 with only one goal in mind; forge a large enough gap that couldn’t be recoverable. This is why I like the 3 run format. It’s all or nothing from the start. You can’t afford to spend time warming up; the pressure is there immediately. I made the choice to take the corners wider and faster staying in 2nd gear rather than slowing down to shift. It paid off and resulted in FTD. We went into the lunch break knowing that there was only one run left that could make or break it but I would have rather been chasing than leading. There was everything to lose in the championship point race. The final run was somewhat sloppy. The dusty conditions had called for the watering truck although there was a little more water dumped on the course than we bargained for. With a marginal lead over 2nd place contender Rob Backis (#7) I took off from the start line hoping the gravel tyres would give me the advantage I needed.
The first lap was slippery and I took out a cone on a left hairpin as I tried to keep to the driest, tightest line. We fought it out over the remaining 5 laps and incredibly finished with exactly the same time, 2.856min. and 1 cone penalty each! A mere 11.8sec. separated 1st and 2nd place overall after 15 laps, remarkable considering the Sti is shod with wide 17” snow tyres. Jennifer (#64) achieved a well deserved 3rd place having struggled with less than ideal gear ratios on the tight track and Mark (#4) finished with a respectable time in 4th place on his first outing in PA class. With luck we’ll see more of the regular PA competitors at the next event in September. See you on the gravel! Photo by Team Illuminata Motorsport.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Nice write-up Dave! You just wait til I get a small brake kit so I can get some rally tires on there. Ohhh that will be a fun day...

See you next month!!!