#411 passed tech Friday night, so that’s all good. The yellow car is being teched first this morning. So far so good. We’re told to start the car to make sure the kill switch works. Start the car – see, it works! A passerby stops and points at the car with wide eyes... uh oh. I get out: it decided to puke all its oil. In the tech area. Yeah that looks good.
Turns out it was coming from the oil filter – it wasn’t tight enough and the cold morning start caused the gasket to blow out. Phew – could have been a lot worse! Replace the filter, clean her up – she’s good to go! Glad we got here early! 747 goes to tech after that – good to go as well! Then we go to swap tires on #710 to try and get more grip in the back – what’s that – feels like a loose wheel bearing. Crap – Chris and I are about to go out – Arek – fix it!
First session out is GT Challenge practice. We had previously decided that Chris and I were going to share #411 (red e36), Arek was going to drive #710 (yellow e46), and Eric was going to drive #747 (black/orange e46). Since qualifying was 40min, we decided to split that as well. Chris went out first in quali, and got an awesome time: 2:19.1. I wasn’t able to beat that, so he was going to start the race, and I would finish it. We’re sitting P7 in quali overall, just in front of Arek (2:20.0) and 3 spots ahead of Eric (2:20.5) – Yup apparently Arek got out there in #710 – turns out the axle nut was loose so he just torqued it down and it tightened up!
Next session is practice for GT sprints. I was driving #747, Chris was driving #411 and Eric was driving #710. #747 had garbage tires on the front – it was terrible – the car WOULD NOT turn in. Sucks. I only managed to get a 2:22.8, whereas Chris got a 2:20.3, and Eric got a 2:20.8 – I’m already 2 seconds back
Next session after that – GT Challenge race! There’s a mandatory pit stop of 1min between the 20minute and 40 minute marks. That’s when Chris and I would do our driver change. We figured if there was a full-course yellow, he’d come in, or he’d come in at the 30 minute mark. Green flag – go! Chris is killing it – Arek gets in front of the start in #710, it’s all good – he can’t keep the power down – Chris keeps getting better launches out of T20 but can’t out-power him on the front straight. Arek points him by after a few laps on the outside of rocky road, going into 5 – BRAKE BRAKE! Drop 2 wheels off on the outside – GO GO GO! gets him on the exit and holds it – good job bro!
Arek comes it at 18min – what’s up? Still no rear grip - check the rear wheel bearing – it feels loose! I jack the car up – nope, it’s tight – get back out there!
At 29min I flag Chris to come in next lap. Start the timer as he stops in pit lane, he gets out, I loosen the belts (LOL), and hop in, get strapped in, put on my gloves, Chris yells GO – I say wait – what’s our time. You’re good... NOW! Sweet – we nailed that change. I’m all excited/nervous – mess up my shifting going into corner 2 lol... NBD – keep going!!! The race was awesome – I missed all the exciting stuff at the start though – the field was pretty spread out so it felt like a quali session. Fun nonetheless – I was pushing hard! I caught myself backing off a couple laps but I just had to keep fighting!
So excited when it was over – I had no idea where we finished. P3! What? AWESOME! Chris and I are stoked!
One more session to go – GT Sprint Race 1! I’m driving 411, Eric is driving 747 and Arek is driving 710. This is my first race start EVER. We’re starting from the back of the grid because we qualified in different cars. Breathe, focus, green flag – GO GO GO! I pin it to try and stick behind Arek – Can’t do it – he’s weaving/splitting traffic like it’s a joke. Whoa! He makes gaps where they didn’t exist! I try and follow him in but those gaps disappear as soon as he’s through. I make it through T1, T2, T3, T4, rocky road – go to the inside, wait, wait.. brake! There’s a car beside me but i’m 100% lined up with him on the inside so for sure I’ve got the line. Wait – he’s turning in – oh crap, go to the grass! I drop 2 wheels on the grass, but as i hit the rumble strip the back end comes out – bump! Oops!!!! Oh well, keep going – the other guy didn’t wreck – cool! Go go go! I slowly work my way up the pack – it’s going awesome. Finally I start seeing some GT3 guys – sweet! These passes are for position! Almost done the race, then full course yellow as I’m going through the quarry. Ok, lift a bit but not much – Arek is right in front! I’m going down the front straight then I see the Last Lap board.. aww man. Right after that, a safety truck pulls out of pit lane – ok he must be going into turn 1. NOPE – shoots across the track to T9. WTF! I literally have to SLAM on the brakes and swerve to avoid him. WTF was that?!? Did I do something wrong? The next few corners I’m shaking – maybe I should have slowed down more?
As we get past temptation we start seeing debris – body parts everwhere – turns out Marc Steenbakkers got pushed into a wall over the crest, then flipped end-over-end-over-end all the way down the hill, to land on his roof at the bottom in T10. Holy – it looks bad. Right after the incident they red flag the race, and we stop on the front straight (as instructed). Shortly after we go into the pits, and the race is over.
Turns out Marc is ok – he walked from the wreck. Whoa! That car is a mess though. Also, I finished P3 in GT3! Sweet! After the race, a guy comes up to me and says “did you poop your pants out there?” LOL turns out he was behind me when the safety car came out – I’m glad to get confirmation that it was nuts, and that I didn’t do anything wrong.
Here's Arek's in-car:
The cars are good – we go have dinner with the MCO folk, and pack it in for an early night.