Not a great weekend in Austin.
It was my first time in a while pulling double duty, racing in the second to last round of the TUDOR Championship in the Corvette DP as well as the FIA WEC round in the Corvette C7.R.
We went into COTA second in the points in TUDOR and still with a decent shot of winning the championship. The FIA WEC race was a really cool opportunity that Corvette Racing put together to make a ‘Team USA’ effort.
Going into the weekend Ricky and I knew it was going to be pretty difficult jumping from one car to the next between sessions. I had at least raced the car at Le Mans this year and then again at VIR, so I had a decent idea of what to expect.
Throughout practice we got a pretty good understanding of what each car took to get the lap time out of it. They are massively different cars to drive and require a much different driving style.
With the Corvette DP, you’ve got a bunch of downforce and that is what you maximize to get lap time out of it. So you can be very aggressive with the car and you really have to hustle it and fight the car to get the lap time out of it. When you get in the Corvette C7.R, it’s a completely different animal.
You lack the downforce and power, so you have to be very smooth and precise with everything that you do. The way you apply the brakes, turn the steering, apply the throttle, it’s all pretty different. And then you add on that in the TUDOR race you’re looking out the windshield 95 percent of the time, and in the FIA WEC race, you’re 50 percent out the windshield, 50 percent looking in the mirror.
So that was the mental strain throughout the week, switching driving mentalities. It was also a hot weekend in Austin, so it became pretty physical. The DP car was probably in the 120 degree range on race day. Thankfully the Corvette C7.R has a great A/C system where we could cool off a bit.
We had a great car for the Tudor race. Ricky qualified P2, which was our strongest qualifying all year. We usually race well, but qualifying hadn’t been our strong suit.
Our race was over pretty quickly, along with our championship hopes. It was unfortunate, because as Ricky proved, we had a winning car. We came out of the pits a lap down and behind the whole Prototype pack. He passed everyone up to 2nd and we were about to get our lap back until the pit stop went awry.
Onto the FIA WEC race. We had a few hours off to re-hydrate and get some food. Tommy started the race for us and settled into a good pace. I was second in the car. I got in, and it was a nice, sunny day in Texas. About halfway through my stint we started getting a few drop on the back side of the track. It slowly started coming down harder, but slicks were still manageable. Then next, it just poured!
I came out of Turn 1 and had Dan Binks shouting on the radio that from the Esses through to pit in was covered in standing water. Which was great news…it meant I had the 19 corners on slicks to make it back to the pits.
I went down the back straight turning the brake bias towards the rear to prevent the fronts from locking. I was behind a Prototype and an Aston. At the brake zone, first the prototype started spinning, then the Aston. Then I thought, ‘uh oh, I’m next!’ I had a big slide, but somehow kept going (I wish I could take credit for it, but it was pure luck at this point).
I’ve never felt anything like this in my life. It literally felt like I was driving on ice with just the rims. The steering didn’t turn the car and any throttle or brake just turned the car sideways. I went about 15 mph and made it back to the pits.
While there, the red flag came out. I’m not sure on all the rules in the FIA WEC for this procedure, but when they restarted the race, they held everyone that made it to the pits for wet tires, stay in the pits while the rest of the cars circulated under yellow. By the time it went green, we had lost two laps.
So all in all, not a great weekend in Texas. We head to Atlanta next week for Petit Le Mans, our final race of the championship. Hope to see some of you there.