No, I’m not referring to the beverage. As a matter of fact, I’m referring to the dry spell from the podium that I’ve experienced in my entire time going north of the border in my sports car racing career.
Never have I encountered a track that I’ve loved so much, yet just cannot seem to pull through and get the job done.
If you read my last blog about VOLT Racing’s run in the CTSC four hour endurance event at Watkins Glen just a week ago, you understood some of the challenges and head scratching we had experienced throughout that weekend.
Now with two races back-to-back on consecutive weekends, there was certainly some level of apprehension heading up to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this year.
Again, this had been a track that treated me very well in my days driving single seaters along with speaking in terms of raw speed over the last few years, so expectations to capitalize on that speed were pretty high.
Steady improvements made to the car throughout testing and practice showed some gains on the time sheet, but unfortunately not the wholesale jump that we were looking for.
With that in mind, I turned my focus away from raw car performance and tried to figure out the best way Alan and I could adapt to the car we had underneath us with some changes in driving style.
This, in general, is not the most ideal route but it could lead to quick, short term gains in outright speed, although a little bit more risky.
Then again, the car is a calculator and the input you provide determines what you get out. Wrong input = wrong answer; I’ve bombed plenty of algebra tests in my day, I’ll put it to you that way.
Come race day, life was pretty hectic as Practice 3 and qualifying were only about four hours before the start of the race itself.
Making any more adjustments before and heading into the race essentially blind would not just risk performance but also take the team’s focus away from the immediate task at hand.
We wanted to put together a smart, strategic, and most importantly, clean race to achieve the best result possible.
Luckily the choice to focus more on race strategy and quality pit stops really paid off for us, since when it was time for Alan to pit for full service and driver change, we gained a significant amount of time on pit road, which was a huge boost for everybody.
From then on it was a very complicated race, as full course yellows were burning up time on the clock and the call was made that we were going to attempt to save fuel and not make a second run down pit lane.
Great strategic call, although it always seems to happen when you have a huge fight on your hands to try and gain or defend positions on track.
Hanging on to third position by a thread with two laps remaining, low fuel alarms were now pretty constant on the dash but despite that, I was still pretty hell bent on bringing it home to VOLT Racing’s first CTSC podium.
As quickly as I thought of that, it was snatched right out of my hands as a Mercedes and I made hard wheel-to-wheel contact at the apex of Turn 10 and it tore up my right front pretty badly with one lap remaining.
Fair game – I would’ve done the same thing if I was being held up for that long too. We limped across the line in fourth.
Not bad by any means, but disappointing to me since that dry spell from a podium finish in the CTSC now continues.
That being said, I also want to give a shout out to my former co-driver and great friend Cameron Cassels for allowing me to continue my streak of driving multiple cars per weekend and running in the Prototype Challenge LMP3 category with him.
I’ve got limited experience at best behind the wheel of prototypes, so this was a pretty massive learning curve for me… especially when having to jump out of a Mustang and hop into one of those things all in the same weekend!
I’d love to have a few more outings in the LMP3 car, as I feel that there’s some unfinished business there from my end.
Three consecutive weeks at the track with the VOLT Racing crew and this is really just the beginning of the “summer swing”.
The guys really worked their asses off these past two weeks in some pretty extreme heat to give Alan and me something to fight with – they’re the real MVPs.
Also, a big thanks to Alan, VOLT Lighting, and Trim-Tex, as well as Cameron and the Performance Tech team for a great weekend at CTMP.
We now have a full week to re-prep and re-focus for the lovely bull ring also known as Lime Rock, where I feel our chances at a win are stronger than ever.