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Old 04-09-2010, 02:21 PM   #1
Cobb Tuning
Member#: 4803
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Default Cameron Benner: Buttonwillow Race Recap - Subaru STI - Redline Time Attack

Overall I was incredibly pleased by the performance of the #21 Street Tire Subaru STI, the performance of the mechanics dedicated to servicing the STI, my car chief and generally the COBB Motorsports team as a whole. I think everyone worked very well together, and the dynamic between Car chief and car mechanic with regard to Brian Marstellar and Calvin Dotson was one that worked well and gave me what I needed to perform. I valued the driver input from Gary Sheehan and Brian Lock highly; the experience they have is something I will use this year to help develop and improve my role as a driver.

Each team member was able to work collectively and mesh together in such a way that promoted “fluidity” in our pit; mechanics and car chiefs worked between cars when needed, offering their own advice while trying to sort issues that arose over the weekend. While the weekend wasn’t marked by any catastrophic issues on the STi side of things, we were presented by a problem with the assembly of the new AST Suspension 5200 series coilovers; as a team we were able to consult one another and settle on the best plan to address the issue, and in the process assessed the both long-term and short-term repercussions of our decision. It is this kind methodical approach that I really like to see between mechanics and, at the end of the weekend, our decision stay on the original suspension and delay the install of the new AST gear until the following week, landed us a podium finish.

Tempers, attitudes, and egos seemed to be “checked at the door”; everyone understood what we wanted out of the weekend, and conducted himself or herself in such a way that kept these goals in mind. At no point in the weekend did I see any “head butting” between mechanics or car chiefs, or car chiefs and crew chief. I was very impressed by the ability of everyone to genuinely listen and value the opinion and advice of their fellow teammates.

This weekend required some big adjustments on behalf of both me and my car chief, Brian. Coming out of SCCA wheel-to-wheel competition, the transition to a Time Attack was going to be something new, and I knew this going into the weekend. I have a limited number of tracks under my belt, and the process of learning new tracks will be something I need to develop and hone this year. I was able to take advice from both Brian Lock and Gary Sheehan on how to approach learning a new track, which was greatly helpful.

In wheel-to-wheel competition, I’m used to analyzing the competition and waiting to make a calculated overtake, whether it be 4 or 14 laps into a race. In Time Attack the competition is the clock, and racing the clock presents its own set of challenges. By the end of Saturday practice, I was feeling very good about the performance of both the car and myself, having run the fastest time of the day in Street AWD with a time of 1.57.9. Going into Sunday we ran into several issues that upset an otherwise smooth weekend. During the first morning session on Sunday, the stock plastic peddle stop underneath the accelerator dislodged causing the fly-by-wire throttle to go out of range and put the ECU into “limp mode”. This resulted in a loss of valuable practice time as we had to have the car pulled off track. Later, in the first Time Attack timed session, I made an error with positioning the car with another competitor on track towards the end of my warm-up lap, which ultimately led to having to sacrifice my first Hot Lap. I attribute both of these issues to being the first Redline Time Attack event for both me and the car; given more development and experience with the Time Attack format, issues like this should become less frequent.

By the time the first Time Attack session rolled around, we were feeling calm and ready to perform. We managed a time of 1.58.9 on track about a second off from our best practice time set late in the day Saturday. The time discrepancy could be accounted for by inconsistencies in my driving performance, but we figured that it was more likely the difference in ambient track temperature, which was right around a 40 degree increase between the two days. By the end of the second Time Attack session we had set another fast lap of 1:58.8, which was good enough to put us in 3rd place behind two Evo X’s.

I’m not one to rely on excuses to justify performance (or lack there of) but given our current setup, I honestly think we performed the best we could for what we had. The HB speed Evo, piloted by Jon Drenas, clinched second place by only 7/10ths of a second with Steve Ruiz in the StopTech Evo in first place with a 1.57.5. To my knowledge, these cars were running approximately 75-100 more whp than we were running; along with properly setup double adjustable suspensions. Had we been able to install and tune our new AST’s throughout the weekend, and not rely on an ageing set of Ohlin singles, there is no doubt in my mind that our car would have been well into the 1.57’s if not the 1.56’s.

This weekend it came down to car setup, and in that regard, we were simply at a disadvantage. We ran times that were incredibly consistent, varying by mere tenths, which tells me that car setup was hindering further drops in times. Looking forward to New Jersey in two weeks, the AST coilovers will be on and we will commence tuning over the course of that weekend with the guidance of AST suspension engineer Brian Hanchey.

For our first time out, I think we set a very respectable benchmark with a podium 3rd place finish in Street Tire AWD, and a 4th place finish overall in the Street Class. This first event at Buttonwillow has told us a lot about what we need to develop in the car as well as what I need to work on as a driver. I’m excited to take what we’ve learned on this first weekend and apply it to changes in car setup and my own approach to Time Attack, and I’m confident that using the knowledge we acquire from each event will continue to secure us podium finishes and propel us forward to 1st place finishes in the very near future.

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Old 04-09-2010, 05:02 PM   #2
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 48211
Join Date: Nov 2003
Chapter/Region: RMIC
Location: Utah
2005 WRX
2006 Evo IX


Thanks for the great write-up, pictures, and video! Excellent showing at the Time Attack as well.
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