Round 2 of the Rose Series and the first of the Ovals. This would on the face of it look like a much easier track to prepare for but as this would be the first time I tried to set the car up for an Oval the challenge far out weighed that of last weeks Interlagos race. Lucky for both myself and the Team, Ryan Littlemore joined the series from Apex Racing UK and brought with him some base setup knowledge that we were able to work on that through the week. Along with the Apex Academy drivers we were pretty happy to get the car into a great place both in Q and Race trim, even topping the timing sheets more than once.
A shift in both wind speed and direction just before qualifying meant we were trying to tweak the balance right up until we had to put down our laps. In the end we were unable to find that perfect balance but still took a very happy P3 on the grid.
As always the race is where it was going to matter, I had done plenty of long run testing in the week and felt the car was strong in both dirty and clear air so we had a chance if we had long green runs. It didn’t take to many laps after the start for Brandon to come flying around the outside and give me that WTF thought but these Oval racers know far better than me the best way to get through the traffic. I knew from here I was going to have a tough time with any of the Broken Aero cars that were behind.
After a few cautions I found myself back in 4th place, myself and Brendan were really starting to put the pressure on Miguel, who was really starting to struggle on the long run. It took a while but Brendan finally got a run on Miguel but really had to drive the car deep into 3. This gave me the perfect chance to get both drivers at the same time as they pushed up high and had to get out of it or hit hit the wall.
Clean Air it was go time and I really started to unleash the legs on the DW12. The gap to Brandon was about 5.9 seconds and my spotter was kind enough to say we were closing back in at .150 per lap. I was forced to pit as we had taken a little less fuel on the last stop in order to jump back up to 4th but made a mistake with the amount of fuel I put in (Crew Chief functions are broke at the minute by the way). This would mean I had to run the next stint on mix 2 in order to make it to lap 133, that was the magic number to make it to the end on full fuel.
53 laps on 1 set of tyres was always going to be tough. I had a clear track when I came out of the pits and decided to take it very easy on the tyres in a vain attempt to keep them good for the remaining laps. with 10 laps to go it looked as if I might be good to hold on to 2nd place but then the tyres really gave out on me. With 5 laps to go I caught the wall and lost even more lap time and at that point I knew Brendan was going to come past. Sadly Jamie had been quietly closing in on him as well and I slipped a further spot to 4th.
In a way I’m a little gutted that I lost 2nd but so happy to know we are on the right track with the oval side of things and that will only get better. I retained the top spot in the championship so after 1 of each it’s good to know where I we stand. Road America next round followed by Sebring so I’m rubbing my hands together looking forward to those.
Congrats to the podium, all the Apex and Academy drivers and unlucky to Woody again.
See you all on track after Christmas, I hope you all have a blast over the holidays.