Saturday, August 16, 2008

First Koni Challenge race is in the books!

Well, qualifying didn't go so well. I went seven tenths of a second faster than yesterday, but everyone got a lot faster than that. I never had but one clean lap and honestly was really working on just trying to fine tune myself to the course and the car and let the times come. But it didn't really come like it should have and I qualified us dead last on the grid. That's a completely new thing for me...I've been at the back before, but never last. It was only by fifteen thousandths, and the last excuse I have is that the entire rest of the field appeared to be on brand new tires and I was on used rubber (one session yesterday, but that can be a big deal sometimes).

But the race is a long one, so qualifying isn't terribly important anyway...

So I started from the back, but quickly picked off a bunch of folks in turn three. Everyone seemed to run pretty clean back where I was, but as the outside line stacked up I was able to jump to an inside line that worked pretty well to pick off a bunch of cars. Had a pretty long and interesting stint in the car. It was an hour and forty five minute race, and I think I went about 50 minutes. That last twenty was getting pretty hot as the rotary engine in the RX-8 is known for generating a LOT more heat than piston engines do. Combine that with the walled street course not allowing much fresh air into the track, and you have some fairly stifling conditions. I was pretty well soaked when I got out of the car.

I gained at least a few spots before handing the car off to Jason, and he gained a few more to get us to 22nd out of 34 qualifiers (only 33 started, however). The car was pretty loose and we're a bit down on power from where we should be, but all in all I was really happy for this since it was both Jason and my first Koni Challenge event and the first such event for this newly built car. The crew did a great job correcting a few minor glitches through the weekend, and the car will need a bit of body work thanks to some hard racing, but the car survived very well. We're pretty happy with how it went.

Next up, an SCCA National in Spec Miata at Carolina Motorsports Park next weekend in my new OPM Autosports '99 Miata. The next Koni Challenge race for Jason and I will be the race at Miller Motorsports Park in late September.

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