It was a tough weekend North of the Border. We went in as defending winners at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but last year, our race wasn’t won on speed. We didn’t have any mistakes in the race and made a great strategy call to get us out front.
We went into the weekend with some big ideas. We didn’t have the pace in 2015, so we were going to try and reinvent the wheel this year. We had a big new setup on the car that we were going to work on throughout our three hours of practice.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. Both Practice 1 and Practice 2 were shortened with rain. We only got about 5-10 laps in each session, but we ended up quickest in both. With traffic and track conditions, it was hard to really tell where everyone stacked up with one another.
The car didn’t feel great, and since we didn’t have much time to work on it, we made a call to go back to what we knew. It seemed like we made the right call, Ricky put us P2 in qualifying, splitting the Mazdas, and four-tenths clear of the next Corvette DP.
It was going to be one of the toughest races of the year. The track is intense. It requires a lot of commitment, both physically and mentally. This year was also the first time we had all four classes in the race, so traffic was going to be key.
Ricky made a great start and jumped into the lead. It was pretty apparent it wasn’t going to last long. The 55 had way more pace than us and was able to get by halfway through the stint. Ricky was able to hang onto P2 until the first stop, where I hopped in.
We left the pits and got jumped by the 90, 5, and 31 on pit stop rotation, but were able to get by the 55. It was tough racing in the first stint, as this was the first time everyone was going through traffic ‘in anger’. You tend to test the waters in practice, but then in the race you take a bit more risk.
With the class separation being so close, GTLM and PC cars can hold us off in lots of places, and even the GTD class can hold us off in some brake zones since they have ABS.
We got a yellow pretty soon after and had a restart deep in the pack. We had a lot of traffic in front of us when it went green and we were able to get the 5 car around the outside of Turn 8. Our pace at this point was strong, we were reeling in the 90 and 31.
Our last stop was going to be a short fill, so taking four tires would add too much time to the stop. We decided on two tires, just the rears.
The car was on edge all day. With this track being so high speed, oversteer is not the nicest balance to have. The 31 and 5 took two and the 90 took four. So with our strategy call, we were able to jump the 90 and leave the pits second.
We were running a solid pace for most of the final stint, but with about twenty minutes to go, we lost the fronts. We just picked up a massive understeer and the 5 was able to just drive around me.
We ended up third, which was not exactly what we were looking for, but compared to 2015, we had a much more competitive car. So that’s a big positive we can take to Road America.
It was one of the most physical races I have been a part of. I drove for about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Cockpit temp was a steady 120 degrees.
We ran a heart rate monitor for the first time this year, and my heart rate ranged from 165 to 185. Needless to say, I was pooped at the end.
We’ve got a few weeks off now until Road America, so I’m looking forward to having some peaceful time at home with the Fonz.