This is always my busiest weekend of the year, with a race in Detroit on Saturday and test in Le Mans on Sunday.
Race car drivers always say how they wish they could be in a race car every day of the year, but it’s a little different when you’re going country to country.
Detroit has been a strong event for us historically. I won there in 2012 with Paul Edwards and Autohaus Motorsports, and then in 2013 and 2014 with Ricky and Max with Wayne Taylor Racing.
It’s always a tough race; every year has had different elements that would dictate the outcome of the race.
The weekend started out pretty well, we felt that we had a decent car in practice, but the big thing everyone was talking about was the weather. Our first session was dry and the second session wet, so we got a feel for all conditions.
At this point, the race had a 90 percent chance of rain, so we were leaning more towards a wet setup on the car. We knew we didn’t have the strongest car in the dry, so when Ricky qualified second, just half a tenth off the 5 car, we were pretty excited.
Race day came, and the chance of rain was almost completely gone. There was potential for a few showers here and there, but nothing certain.
The start was a bit messy, there were some games being played, which actually caused a stack up of the whole field and took out one of the PC cars. The 90 got by us before start finish, and Ricky settled in third for his stint.
I got in at about the halfway point in the race under caution and it started sprinkling on those caution laps. We were restarting third, behind the 5 and the 90, but the 23 was the GTD leader and would actually be bringing us to the green.
I’m not sure what happened exactly, but we started accelerating in the acceleration zone and then someone hit the brakes. Once the green was called I kept the momentum and was able to get by both of them into Turn 1.
From there, it was just a matter of trying to hold everyone off. We knew since it was dry it was going to be tough to maintain our position. The 31 was able to get by and I was pretty comfortable with holding off the 5 and 90.
With about 20 minutes to go we had contact with a GTD car which resulted in a penalty. Not the day we wanted, but overall we only lost one point in the championship. We’re 12 points back now, but only halfway through the championship. A lot can still happen.
After the race, I had about two hours to get to the airport to catch my flight to Paris. Needless to say it was a long flight after the day we had.
I landed in Paris at 8:05 a.m. on what looked like a beautiful day. Caught the 9:50 train to get into Le Mans at 11:30, on what looked like a usual Le Mans day, overcast with rain! Doug Fehan was there waiting to pick me up.
We got to the track at about 12:00, went through my equipment checks at 1:30, and finished up with the private driver’s meeting at 2:30. By 3:30 I was in the garage ready to get in the car.
Olly was able to get some dry running in, in the morning and Tommy got a few laps in the afternoon. But at this point, it was just on and off with rain. So we waited until it was either wet or dry, there was no need to waste track time in those conditions.
It rained a bit harder and I was able to get in about 10 to 15 laps in the damp. The session ended at 6:00, and I was back on a train to Paris at 7:30 p.m. to catch my 8:00 a.m. flight the next morning.
Some people can’t believe I flew all the way to France to drive 10 laps, but I think any time you can do laps around Le Mans, you take that opportunity.
It’s such a unique event, you can always learn something. Can’t wait to get the race week started!