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TANDY: Mexico Debrief

Nick Tandy files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Porsche

Heading to Mexico City for the first time, it was an interesting start to the weekend, with our flight getting re-directed to Cancun due to weather, and ultimately missing the first day at the track.

There were few of us from Porsche, the Ford guys, Gulf Racing and a few others on the plane, which was supposed to land Wednesday evening.

However, the airport was closed down and we were forced to land in Cancun. We sat on the plane for a few hours. At that point everyone was still hopeful of making it that night.

Eventually when it became clear the crew went over their hours and the plane wasn’t able to fly, we were told we would be leaving the next day around lunchtime.

We still didn’t have too many worries, as we always go a day early in case of these circumstances.

But then waking up in the morning, we found out the flight was delayed again due to the weather and we were getting quite worried we’d not be able to fly on Thursday at all.

We looked into the possibility of ground transportation, and in the end a few of us went to the airport and got on the next available flight, which got us into Mexico City just about a full day later than expected.

In the end it was quite nice to wake up in Cancun on Thursday, to have breakfast on the beach and have a little wander around the sea.

It was quite an interesting day, certainly different than going from the hotel to the race track to the track walk and then back to the hotel, as we normally would have!

When we eventually did make it there and get on track on Friday, it was very encouraging right from the start.

The cars worked perfectly at that circuit and in that situation with the high altitude and air pressure. It was a reasonably comfortable weekend, more so than Nurburgring even.

Toyota gave us a bit of a shock in qualifying, with the lap time they could produce. But from then onwards, the race went perfectly to plan.

From our car’s side of the garage, we were there not only to get maximum manufacturer points but to also support Car 2 for their championship efforts.

The only little issue came with a pit lane speeding penalty, which after some investigation, we found was due to the minimum time that the button needs to be activated for.

For safety of being accidentally triggered, the button needs to be pressed for at least 80 milliseconds and it turns out I only hit it for 78 on the way into the tight pit entrance, and didn’t activate the limiter.

It was a shame but we only lost around 25 seconds in the drive-through penalty. In the end, it wouldn’t have changed the results. It’s something we’ll change for the future so it can’t happen again.

Realistically, we gained the full potential we could have done from both sides of the garage.

It was a great weekend for Porsche, although not an interesting race to watch at the front in the LMP1 class. It was a bit of a shame but we go out there and race each weekend with the competition we’re dealt, so I’m sure it will be a lot closer going to other tracks.

I think the altitude definitely helped our philosophy with the car. I think we can run a higher level of downforce than Toyota. With the less dense air pressure of Mexico City, downforce proved to be key this past weekend.

Austin is another high-downforce track and we’ll be running pretty much in the same configuration as Nürburgring and Mexico City. The plan again will be to go there and dominate.

I think the demands of the circuit will suit the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Whether we’ll get the chance to fight for victory depends on circumstances. But the thing I’m looking forward to most about COTA is going back to race in America and in Texas.

Outside of driving the car on the track, it’s the event I’ve been looking forward to the most because it’s a fun place and I’ll be able to see a lot of friends.

Hopefully we’ll have a party on Saturday night after the race out on the town to celebrate another good race!

Nick Tandy (@NickTandyR) is the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours winner and Porsche LMP1 factory driver, driving for the German manufacturer in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

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