Good old English weather
Rd 8 of the PPR league was here and this week we would be battling around Silverstone. Once again practice had been limited leading up to Sunday so late afternoon I decided to get an hour in before the server went live. Conditions looked standard for Silverstone, relatively low temps and overcast, a typical day in England. A few tweaks to the set up and we were ready.
Server goes live and I hit enter with the intention of getting in some solid laps before qualifying. As the load screen disappears I hear the distinct sound of heavy rain bouncing off the Bentley’s huge metal shell, Good old English weather!
Conditions were grim to say the least, and this created a tricky scenario for qualifying. Cars were all over the place on the out lap before the water which was lay around began to disperse forming some what of a racing line. The session was poor for myself and I managed a feeble 17th due to a number of invalid laps and having to settle with my banker lap. I think this was the case for most to be honest though with morale being low through out the field. That being said John Clements managed a great lap which put him in P2
With both practice and Qualifying being in awful conditions, we all entered the race feeling ready for anything as things seemed they could only get better. How wrong were we! ‘Flooded’ track was certainly not what we expected. I’ve never driven on a flooded track let alone raced on one, so I didn’t know what to expect. With a sunrise race the lights went green in the dark and that combined with a flooded track resulted in visibility of the worst kind. T1 caught the majority of drivers off guard, especially the front runners who braved the water first. A sea of red lights could be seen Infront of me as everyone dived on the brakes to avoid the carnage that was untangling, this was quickly followed by a red flag and a restart!
T1 this time was taken with a lot more caution and the race slowly began to unfold. The first few laps were slow ones with a lot of standing water and limited visibility. It was clear from the off that Joe McAuley was capitalising on his pole and getting along fine with the conditions. Not much changed up the front for him and he drove his Honda home for what seemed an easy Win.
The PSR team quickly went from four drivers to two with both John and Tim having difficulty with the Aston Martin in flooded conditions, both cars retired from the race or would that class as a rage quit? Who knows! Maybe Jack Roderick could shed some light on the matter. Very unfortunate for John after a great qualifying.
So only myself and Dan remained in the race, Dan was having a tough time with the GTR but stuck it out to claw any points that were available. I managed to move up to the edge of the top 10 early in the race and settle into a groove chasing the notorious green deltas as I began to learn the flooded track. It soon became apparent that the tyre pressures for wet tracks are far different to that of a flooded track and my tyres were well out the optimum pressure range.
With the pit stop nearing, I was really unsure how to go about it. The weather was stated to get less and less throughout the last 30 mins so my worry was an increase in pressure for the flooded track would end up with the tyres cooking. I decided I’d stick with the tyres I had on and only take fuel. Bad decision! I saved approximately ten seconds on the pit stop which dropped me back in the same position I was in, but with a bigger lead on the two cars behind. The sudden added weight from the fuel highlighted the used tyres and made the next fifteen minutes extremely difficult with laps times dropping off by two to three seconds. The two cars behind were gaining fast and the thirty second gap was soon down to half that. It seemed inevitable that they would catch me be before the end of the race, but after some concentration I managed to lower my times enough to maintain the gap and cross the line in P9.
The race was a tough one, and some valid lessons were learnt in the process. It seems an extra 2.5 / 3 psi increase from heavy rain tyre settings would of given me the optimal pressure range which would of seen the times decrease for sure.
Apologies for the delay in getting this one written up, been a very hectic week with work and have struggled to find the time. There is a break this Sunday from the league which then resumes next week for a night race at Zolder.