*photo credit- Gus Dizon
LIC Motorsports had it's first and only opportunity of the year to race in front of a home crowd recently as their Takata Time Attack Impreza was delivered to Infineon raceway just 10 miles from LIC Motorsports headquarters. Infineon Raceway provided the venue for Redline Time Attack's penultimate round of their West Championship and was their first visit to the Bay area since 2007.
Racers woke up on the morning of Saturday's practice session to a steady rain. James Elterman took the opportunity to try the very recently acquired rain tires in the first session as the rain slowed to a drizzle. The track was drying nicely in time for the second session, so James elected for the Nitto NT01 tires. After a few laps the tires were warming and performing well and James began to increase his pace on the damp track. Unfortunately the drying track was very short lived as the rain started again and forced James into the pits after easily breaking all four tires loose at partial throttle acceleration. The afternoon brought a heavy rain and presented drivers with a daunting challenge. There were many offs throughout the afternoon including at least four cars that made contact with a barrier.
"Driving in the rain while using our rain tires I had predictable grip during cornering and braking" said James Elterman. "Surprisingly the most difficult maneuver was simply driving in a straight line! Our turbo is sized such that it provides incredible horsepower with little effort, requiring that I accelerate out of corners as if an egg was under my foot, lest I spin all four tires upon acceleration. Additionally during the periods of heavy rain there were small rivers crossing the road surface which could not be avoided causing momentary hydroplaning. It was quite an experience!"
The rain caused other unforeseen challenges such as decreased visibility due to fogging windows and water damage to electronics. Adam and Noah returned the Takata Impreza to the LIC Motorsports garage on Saturday evening to prepare for more rain during Sunday's competition. A makeshift defroster was added to improve visibility for James, and the engine's cold air intake was enclosed to ensure that water was not collected by the intake. Sunday brought more steady rain as expected, but not all of the changes worked as well as the team hoped.
"Our makeshift defroster made a big improvement in James' visibility" said Noah Levy. "Unfortunately, despite going to seemingly extreme lengths to prevent water from entering the engine's air intake, including a dryer vent snorkel routed to the cabin of the car, our engine's air flow sensor was still getting false readings due to the 100% humidity. Other teams were experiencing similar problems. Ultimately we elected to disconnect our air flow sensor and put the engine in limp mode. Surprisingly this gave James nearly enough power for the conditions though we weren't able to show our full potential this weekend. Considering the conditions, we are all quite pleased to have brought the car home in one piece."
Braving the extreme conditions James claimed third place in the Time Attack, which maintains Takata Time Attack's second place position in the season championship. The season will conclude when it returns to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on November 13th and 14th.