|Sunday, 26 June 2011 13:46|
DAY 3 REPORT - BY LEE MITCHENER (and pics)
2011 Bruno Grana International Trophy (IAME World Challenge) France - Saturday 25th
After a great evening, spending some time with the IAME staff and the chassis engineer of Zanardi karts. We spoke about many things, and it was a great night, with great company.
The Zanardi Engineer was very interested with my quirky engineering ideas for chassis design. I told him that he had to pay me to use any of them though......
‘D' day came quick, after little sleep, I kept waking up thinking I was sleeping through the alarm, I made my way to the track, the weather was great, not a cloud in the sky, and reasonably warm already for 8am. Gentleman Odd numbers (Impaire - in French) were the second group out.
I posted a time much quicker than I did in practice the day before on new tyres, the kart was getting better and better throughout the session, which put me to the top of the time sheet by 2 tenths,.
Things were seeming to be much better, until qualifying.
Nothing much was changed for the qualifying session, as we were pretty happy with the overall package from morning warm up. We were the second group out, Thierry, and Hubert had their game plan sorted and knew when to send me out on track. I was explained to that I may only have the first lap to set a good time, as the tyre pressures were a bit unknown as they had been sitting in the cold air of the storage shed (in parc ferme).
I went out and drove as fast as I could without sliding the tyres, It did not help that on the first few laps the alfano timer skipped the laps, so I did not know where I was situated, nor did it help that from what I thought was my flyer that I had traffic. I put in a few more laps before I was called in for a quick tyre bleed, and sent back out to do one more flyer.
It was good in a way that I was consistant, but not so good that I was consistently slow. The poleman was 'disqualified' due to an illegal carburetor, which put Frederic Ostier on pole with a time of 55.8, and I trailing by some .4 of a second in now 7th position overall.
This lead to me starting in 3rd position for the start of the first heat. A few small changes and I was ready to go. The starts are very straight forward here, you go out of the grid gate, by turn 4 you must be doing a slow and steady pace, and by turn 8 you must be in formation and ready to start.
The starts are so slow and I have been really struggling to get off the line. By the first corner I dropped back to 5th, I was not too phased because I really just wanted to know what the race craft would be like of these guys.
I poked my head in the door a few times, but was not aggressive, certainly not as aggressive as my competitors. Soon enough 2 came together and I progressed to 3rd position by about lap 4, then lap 5 moving into 2nd. By then the kart was starting to really work well, and the temperatures working at their optimum, I broke a small gap from 3rd position, but was no way going to catch 1st as he pulled a gap when there was the altercation on track.
Although the times were not so great, I think that position was the most important.
I Started in position 4 in the second heat, racing against some tough guys in this draw, but I was still confident. The Eurokarting team made some more changes, and to theory were going to work well.
Once again I had a shocking start, dropping back 1 or 2. But was able to move forward again to 3rd by lap 3. The opening laps were quite exciting for me because it was the first time I had experienced understeer since I arrived, so I was thinking that we may have been on for a show. It was then that the kart hit a wall. I was passed by one competitor and then freight trained and moved back to 5th. Remy who finished 2nd runner up at last years event was directly in front of me and frying his tyres, he is a very aggressive driver, and I was trying to be smart by letting him cook them till they go off so that I can make a smooth pass and finish 4th for the heat. But unfortunately the kart would not release well from the corners to allow me to get a run on him.
In conclusion to heat 2, I am half a second lagging in time. Hopes are still high (it did take a while to get there). We have made some changes to the chassis ahead of tomorrow's heat 3, pre final and final.
I am certainly down, but hopefully not out.
After racing I found some time to watch some other classes, as far as manufacturers go. Tonykart are really taking the cake. Kenny Vermeylan, two-time X30 Champion was disqualified also for having an illegal carburetor in qualifying. He has been the best driver of the event so far. Making it on average out of his 3 heats, from 27th to 8th each heat. Very impressive, and is looking in my opinion to take out the event again.
Oscar (owner) and Filippo (CEO), of IAME are now at the track and they have been so kind to take some time out of their day to come and chat to me. They are a great bunch of guys, and I feel that they are doing the sport very well.
Time for sleep, I need it, and a very big day tomorrow.