Mid-Ohio—or “Mud Ohio” as its affectionately called by most racers, due to the circuit and surrounding area’s ability to hold water in a rainstorm and make a mud bog anywhere that’s green—is an old circuit.
It has old facilities, a lack of hotels nearby and a shortage of good places to eat.
Yet, charm and history cling to its grounds, and drivers keep coming back.
Admittedly, Mid-Ohio is not a race that I look forward to each year. The layout of the track is fun to drive, has topography (hills), and a high-grip surface. However, due to the layout, it is incredibly hard to pass.
So much so, that the IMSA Grand Prix is infamous for being a pit lane and track position race. Chances to gain positions on track are limited to situations where the driver ahead makes a mistake.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones who’s car’s strength is down the straight away, you may have more opportunities than most.
Basically, I enter this weekend by putting a priority on qualifying, track position and fuel strategy from the team.
Our Lamborghini is a great GT3 car. It brakes extremely well, dives into the corners well, but its straight line speed and acceleration, relative to others, are not advantageous.
Walking that line of aggression/maturity in traffic, with prototypes and in-class cars at restarts, is critical for a good result.
My teammate Robert qualified our No. 39 in eighth position and had a great start, running as high as fifth in his 45-minute opening stint. He reported a loose car about 30 minutes in, meaning that the rear tires were struggling more than the front tires as the laps and age of the tires increased.
This is challenging for us as our Lamborghini makes all of it’s lap time from corner entry to mid corner/apex, and if we slide just a little bit too much, we can bleed off 0.5-1.0 seconds per lap due to this inefficiency.
The nice thing in this situation is that with info from Robert mid-stint, I can change how I plan to use the rear tires from the start of my first hour to try and preserve them 10-15 minutes longer into the drop-off period compared to what Robert experienced.
Next, what I learn in stint one can be used for my second hour to the checkered flag.
Upon inheriting the car and a clean driver change, I was given the order to save roughly 0.1 liters of fuel per lap, which is not too hard to do around Mid-Ohio, due to the circuit’s flowing nature.
But after one yellow, a restart, and my second stop, I needed to save 0.2 liters per lap for the final hour and run to the checkered, which is a massive amount.
This meant that while fighting with cars on track, I also needed to incorporate large distances of coasting before I was even close to all the brake zones, sacrificing a good chunk of lap time to do so.
The struggle here is watching the cars around you drive away slowly, and not putting the bit between your teeth to latch on and hang with them—staying disciplined on the fuel burn, while trying to balance time lost with wide-open fuel burn.
As the final hour of the race progressed, my gap opened up to the “pack” ahead of me and stabilized around 8 seconds.
I wasn’t catching them, and I wasn’t losing any more ground. Yet, I was hitting my fuel-save target.
As we neared the final lap, a few cars had misjudged or miscalculated their fuel save and needed to pit. That was exactly what we were hoping for.
The prototype leaders circulated and passed our class leaders five seconds before start/finish line, shortening the race for us in GTD by one lap.
Based on our math, had that five-second overlap not occurred between our class and the DPi leaders, two other cars in GTD would’ve run out of fuel.
We would’ve placed second and possibly won.
However, as fate would have it, we scored fourth on a day at a track where we had a sixth or seventh place car on pace alone.
The discipline from every member of the team was pivotal in this result, and I even surprised myself with how much discipline I had in the tank.
Up next for us at Carbahn with Peregrine Racing is Detroit Belle Isle, a street circuit that I rank highly among street circuits. And one that we’ve had some speed at before.