I had some scheduling conflicts so I had to skip round 3 of the 2013 miata challenge but I was back at it for round 4 at WSIR international.
Another weekend and another round of the 2013 Miata Challenge. This time we would tough out the heat to turn laps at the fastest racetrack in the west - Willow Springs International.
I was worried about the weekend because of the terrifying 6-9 complex at willow springs. In a miata you're flat out from turn 6 to the entry of turn 9... ultimately hitting 115mph right before you get pinched off at the decreasing radius that is t9. Ultimately t9 is a 90 mph corner and requires ***** of steal.
The weekend was a scorcher with track temps in the 130 range and ambient temps around 95. Overall though it was an epic weekend and I was able to take the top spot on the podum for the street class. The weekend came to a head in the second session when I went directly to battle with Joe Xie whom is my nemsis in the Street Class. Joe is the leader in points (with me second) and has edged me out of the top spot in every event this year.
Here's my video of the session and a recap posted on the miata challenge FB page.
If you're going to skip this whole post/video at least watch the video @ 19:07 because things get really exciting.
The first session was sorta a crapshow. Traffic was quite bad and it seemed that everyone was taking some apprehensive lines around the track (including me). This didn't stop Joe Xie from going on the attack and setting the bar high for the street class. Joe set a time of 1:46.153 for the first session, leaving a monumental gap to me with my 1:47.942.
As the morning moved along so did the temperature. By the time Joe and I lined up for our second session the track temps were above 125 degrees and ambient temps were north of 95. The track was heating up in every way possible. Joe lined up directly in front of me on the grid and the game was on.
As we pulled out of pit lane my nerves started to settle... I put the oppressive heat aside and got to work getting after Joe. As we worked our way trough traffic we both settled in and stated battling. We took turns throwing down fast laps. My tires work best when they aren't over heating so I went on the attack and started reeling Joe in. I managed to turn my fastest lap on lap 4 of 1:44.05. Joe let me past at this point because I was in the groove and just a hair faster than he was.
As the session wore on Joe kept getting faster and faster. I saw him getting bigger and bigger in my rear view and I knew my tires were going off and he was getting into the groove. I gave Joe the point by so I could get out of his way and let him do his thing. I settled into a rhythm and tried to do some learning on the 3-6 combo which is where I was losing lots of time to him.
At around lap 10 I was behind Joe and I got a slight run on him because his car got loose on 5. As we were approaching the hill to 6 Joe’s car let loose in a big way sending him into a 720+ degree spin down the center of the track. I jumped on the brakes, locking up the fronts at first, and headed to the outside of the track. I squared the car up and got rid of all my steering angle and prepared for an off track excursion. Right before I was about to dodge off track Joe collected his car and ended up staying on the right side of the track.
All in all it was a close call to be sure. Either way this was the best HPDE session that I’ve ever been involved with. Joe is a talented driver and it was a blast to mix it up with him out on the track. I have nothing but respect for him after this incident as a competitor and friend and I look forward to the next event where we can explore the limits of street class miata’s.
As for my laps… trackmaster tells me that I had a 1:43.001 in the car if you take the best sectors and combine them. I’m decently sure my grey matter isn’t up to snuff to put all those sections together… Overall this weekend was a big step forward for me and the car and I’m stoked to get out on the track again to keep making progress.
Here's a few photos' from the event
Powerhouse Fire raging in the distance
Moti taking my car out for a few laps
Ryan killing it in supermod like always
Get out of here Scion... you're drunk.
This track is steeped in history... I'd love to be able to poke around here
All wrapped up and packed up
The money shot