The penultimate round of the Redline Time Attack proved to be wet and treacherous with a weekend of standing water and turn 10 being dubbbed “Lake Turn Ten” by the Redline announcers. Despite this the COBB Tuning Motorsports Team clinched another Modified Class victory with the COBB Tuning Motorsports R35 GT-R driven by Brian Lock. Cameron Benner in his AWD Street Tire Class STI braved the standing water to grab 3rd.
The team knew that this would be a very wet weekend as the weather forecast predicted 1-3 inches of rainfall on the Sunday main event alone. However, the weekend started relatively dry with Brian and the GT-R posting and impressive 1:41 lap time in cool and slightly damp conditions in Saturday morning practice. The weather would not hold and shortly after noon, the skies opened and the rain would fall for the remainder of the weekend making the track slick and unpredictable.
Subsequent timed sessions showed a huge drop in lap times with Brian posting 2:20 lap times, nearly 40 seconds off his dry pace. Cameron also struggled in the wet weather as the car was setup for dry conditions and proved very hard to control. Cameron would also struggle with a wet-weather specific mechanical issue which reduced power and made the car even more difficult to drive.
The team spent the balance of Saturday working on wet-weather setup and trying to get the most out of the cars despite being plagued with hydroplaning in several parts of the track. This would almost prove to be the team’s downfall on Sunday.
Sunday morning opened with even more rain and wet conditions with no sign of letting up. The Doppler radar showed constant showers in the forecast. The team soldiered on determined to put down the fastest laps possible and secure their Modified Class championship lead. Cameron, already secure in his championship standing, was looking to further cement his overall street tire class lead.
A soggy weekend quickly turned dramatic as Brian left the track exiting the turn 6 carousel destroying the splitter and damaging front bodywork and the oil cooling sytem. To add insult to injury, Brian was trailing the LIC car by only 1-second when the off occured. The COBB Tuning team lead the Takata Time Attack/LIC Motorsports STI driven by James Elterman in the points by only 5-points going into the weekend. A victory would be essential to give the team a larger points gap going into the Fontana event.
With the damaged GT-R back in the pits, the team went to work repairing what they could and making the car ready for the track again. The crew did an outstanding job to get the bodywork stitched back together, remove the damaged oil cooler from the oiling circuit and repair other damage in order to safely compete in the next Time Attack Session.
Brian Lock once again returned to a rain soaked track, sans splitter and diffuser, in an attempt to coax a faster lap out of the GT-R and capture additional championship points.. By the second lap Brian and the injured GT-R smashed through time set by James Elterman in the Takata Time Attack/LIC Motorsports STI by over 4-seconds. Dave Brown in the Works EVO X also broke through the time set by LIC making the championship points gap even wider giving the COBB Tuning team a bit of breathing room for the final event.
Cameron Benner in the COBB Tuning Motorsports STI also had his own fair share of trouble from the wet but for a completely different reason. To avoid high intake temperatures on the typically hot days that most racing events are run, the intake was placed as far from the hot engine bay as possible. In the case of the COBB Tuning STI, this meant as close to the ground as possible. Unfortunately with the high volume of water on the track the MAF sensor was getting deluged causing the ECU to think that there was no airflow into the engine, seriously curtailing power. Despite having a car that had no power, this turned out to be a bit of a non-issue as the very wet surfaces made transmitting power to the ground almost impossible. Despite these difficulties, Cameron was able to take 3rd place even after attempting to solve the MAF sensor issue with an innovative if not attractive intake snorkel made of brake duct hose.
With only the Super Session remaining and still more rain standing between the COBB Tuning team and total victory, a late-afternoon miracle happened; the sun came out. While the track remained wet, much of the standing water drained off of the racing surface and the team felt that running the Super Session would be possible, even without a splitter or a diffuser. As the only car in the AWD Modified Class, Brian and the GT-R needed only to finish the race to secure first place points. However, you can take the racer out of the car, but you can never take the racer out of the driver and Brian went out to win. The GT-R had other plans, however, and threw one of it’s AWD codes, mostly likely due to excessive wheel-slip and the GT-R defaulted into RWD mode seriously hampering any effort to put power down or even drive straight. Brian was able to take 1st in class and 4th overall, just missing taking 3rd place from Brandon Davis in his World Challenge GT ACS Mustang by less than a car length. Taking 1st in class gives the team a strong points margin in the Modified Class Championship standings heading into the final event.
With only one race remaining at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California both COBB Tuning cars are leading their classes with Cameron mathematically the championship winner. Despite this, the team will be ready to race and make it battle worthy of time attack.