Another Redline Time Attack scorcher in the books. With temps in the high 90s track grip was very low but this didn't slow down the action very much.
We scrambled to get an engine together for this event after suffering an ARP rod bolt failure which trashed our block and bent valves in our head at the GRM UTTC.
With the motor back in the car late Friday we headed off to South Carolina on Saturday for our 10 hour journey. Missing all of Saturday practice and then having to take it easy in practice session one to break in our engine definitely hurt my ability to learn this tricky track.
Carolina Motorsports has a mix of very high speed "kinks" but also a mix of extremely slow and sharp curves.
With practice session one complete and the engine broken in (sort of. LOL!) we headed out for practice session 2. As soon as I warmed up the tires I let the engine rip and it sputters at 7000 rpm and definitely sounds off. With the car running rough I pull into the hot pits and have the team looks things over but nothing is visually wrong. Of course I'm thinking the worse with the new engine but once I calmed down I felt like this could be a bad coil pack. As I'm working on the passenger side James Fournier is working on the driver's side and asks me if I disconnected the coil pack and I say, “I don't think so.” As soon as we look closely at the connector we discover the locking clip has broken off and the coil pack lead must have wiggled loose enough to cause the sputter but didn't actually come all the way off when we checked it in the hot pits. We zip tie the connector on and wait a painful hour (quiet hour due to local churches) before we can fire up the engine to make sure it's fixed. Luckily that's all it was.
With no track time under power I head out for timed session 1. With extremely high track temps our car was having a tough time with rear grip from the setup we used at VIR. Applying power resulted in lots of wheel hop but I managed to clip off a 1:40. The other Unlimited teams with more practice are flying clipping off 1:32-1:38 for the fast guys. I think Billy Johnson in the Factor FX car was in the 1:32s
Dadio AMS in the 1:34s
Rado Scion 1:38s,
Cory Rolex GT3 1:36s.
For practice session three we adjust the air pressures a little, add some rebound dampening to the rear, and added a little more compression dampening all around on our BC ER series coilovers. With only a few minutes left in practice session I jump out for one lap and we dropped into the 1:39s but the car and honestly my driving are not optimal.
For the finals we increased the rear downforce and added two canards to the front of the car to help with overall grip for this slick track. Still not dialed to this track I know I just need to driver hard and do what I can to salvage the time I'm loosing in the slower turns. With such high temps I'm only able to run 2 laps full out and I bobble big time on both laps doing tank slappers, pushing wide, but I manage to drop down to a 1:37 good for 2nd in Ulimited AWD. Billy Johnson sets a new track record in the 1:30s, AMS clicks off a 1:33, Rado manages a 1:35 in his crazy 900 hp Scion, the Rolex GT3 also manages a 1:35, and then times continue into the 1:40s for Unlimited.
In street class TIC took the win in convincing fashion again. In Mod class Ryan Gates also won in convincing fashion.
Congratulations to all the winners!
The dynamic for the Unlimited class has definitely changed with cars competing that have well over a quarter million dollars invested competing and with so many teams running Michelin, Yokohama, and Pirelli slicks our car which was really designed for Modified is having a hard time keeping up. I think with more track time for me and more changes to the suspension setup while we were there I think I could have managed a 1:35 but this is still way short of a 1:30 lap! No doubt it's very exciting to be part of what Time Attack has become!
I'll get some video up soon.