Every season, there is one race in the summer that makes me wish the racing season took place during winter. Last weekend’s race at Virginia International Raceway was the one that did it for me in our 2014 season.
When my sunglasses fogged up due to humidity as I stepped out of the hotel, I knew it was going to be a tough race weekend.
Our GS season has suffered a few setbacks through the middle of the season, and we experienced another one on Saturday. As a precaution, certain parts are sometimes replaced before races, and a brand new alternator was part of our pre-race prep for Saturday’s race.
Unfortunately, it appears the alternator was faulty, so my co-driver Trent Hindman reported early on that an alarm came up on the dash saying “ALT NO CHARGE.” That’s a bad sign for a 2.5-hour race. Trent stayed near the front during his stint, but watched the battery voltage slowly dropped over that time.
The team tried to fix the problem during a pit stop, which put us a lap down. We were confident that we could get our lap back, but were disappointed when no yellows came out in the last two thirds of the race.
In a series where you can almost always count on multiple yellows coming out, we didn’t get one when we desperately needed it.
My stint was fairly uneventful since we were a lap down, but I think I would have been cooler sitting in a sauna for 2 hours. Saunas might be hotter, but at least it’s a pretty dry heat compared to the humidity in Virginia.
Fortunately, this weekend’s schedule was different than normal, so I had time after the GS race to hydrate and rest, as I had lost a lot of weight in sweat during my stint.
At dinner on Saturday, I asked the waiter for two glasses of water and he promised he would be back consistently to refill my one glass. After he saw how quickly I downed that first glass, he reluctantly brought me a second and refilled both.
Sunday was much less humid and we had a fast car, so I was excited to go back to the track for another shot in GTLM after a disappointing Saturday in GS.
Dirk Müller and I have had good pace at most events this season, but some bad luck put us down in the points early on. However, a podium at Road America put us back in the hunt for the top 3 in the championship, so we came to VIR as hungry as ever to perform.
Dirk was quick in his stint, but as usual, it is much more difficult for us to pass the competition than it is to turn a fast lap in the Z4. The team made a great call to pit under yellow with 1hr 10mins to go, even though we wouldn’t make it to the end on fuel.
The thinking was that we would either get another yellow and make it to the end, or come in for a splash that would be much shorter than our competitors’ full stops near the end of the race.
We made the safe call to pit for a splash, as did all the other cars on our strategy except the Falken Tire Porsche.
I was running 3rd but expected to inherit 2nd since the Falken Tire car wasn’t going to make it to the end under green. Unfortunately, the yellow flags flew and the Falken car was suddenly leading with enough fuel to make it after he saved under yellow.
We restarted and although I had a great view of the battle for the lead, I was never quite close enough to sneak my nose in and be a part of it. Nevertheless, we finished with another podium and that result puts us in a 3-way tie with our teammates and the No. 93 Viper for 3rd in the championship.
Although it was a good points day for us, it feels like it’s been too long since we won a race, so Dirk and I are itching to stand on the top step once again.
Only two races left now with Circuit of The Americas in Austin and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, where we finished P3 and P2 respectively last year. Hopefully we can turn one of those into a win and top 3 championship position.