Monday, September 24, 2007

Chalk one up for the McRaes

The sixth round of the Detroit SCCA Rallycross Championship, presented by Team Illuminata Motorsport, was held at Lenawee Fairgrounds in Adrian. It’s not over until it’s over and with a class field of 4 and a tight, tricky course the Alba Rallysport team had to keep the pressure on from the start to gain vital championship points.
It was an unusually warm sunny day for the end of September. We’ve competed at this venue before and we didn’t fair too well so getting the first run of the day over with was our first priority. It was a very well groomed oval dirt track, sandier than Fowlerville or Bob’s so in the wet there is actually more grip than when dry. The run format was similar to the previous event in August in that we competed in 4 sets of 2.5 laps. Not only did this provide a great deal of seat time but was made all the more challenging by course designer Scott Harvey Jr.
The first half of the course was open and fast, the second half tight and twisty. This called for a high degree of driver restraint. It was all too easy to enter the chicanes with too much speed and pick up several cone penalties, something we managed during the afternoon. It was good to see Dmitriy (#42) back having missed the last event and having won here in April he wasn’t going to give us an easy time. Jennifer (#64) and Rob (#86) were the other two contenders, the smooth, power demanding course suiting the #86 Sti.
Run 1, let’s keep it clean my co-driver told me, 3…2…1 GO! We were off, a 90 degree right turn, into a wide slalom, a long sweeping right hander and into the back straight which was followed by some incredibly tight turns as we came around to the start again. Having recently sorted some of our fueling issues this tighter section felt better than on previous courses, the WRX pulling well in 2nd gear even at low RPMs. This was good. Another lap and a half and the first run was complete with only 1 cone penalty. We were happy with that for the first one of the day. Dmitriy (#42) as ever, drove a clean run. This wasn’t going to be easy and we couldn’t afford to pick up cone penalties with him racking off quick, clean times. Jennifer (#64) was also driving a clean race. Run 2, we were more focused. The advantage of running more than one lap at a time is that you get to feel out where to make speed and where to take it easy. This time we kept it clean and laid down the FTD challenge for the morning. Alas, it didn’t hold up thanks to Harvey Jr.! Dmitriy kept it clean, again and although Rob (#86) was fast in the Sti he was eating cones for lunch. He’ll be one to watch though and it’s only a matter of time before he’s racking up fast, clean runs.
Runs 3 and 4 were on a reversed course and it evened up the times in PA class drastically. The afternoon course was a completely different animal and we just couldn’t nail the tighter section in a smooth manner. The WRX was overly tail-happy in the loose sandy surface, which made for a lot of fun but also a great deal of cone destruction. We took out 3 and 4 cones respectively.
I put it down to a little luck, or perhaps Colin an Johnny McRae were looking down on us that day but we took the PA class win and 20 points towards the championship. With only 3 more events in the season we’ll take it where we can get it!

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