L93 Zwartkops Passion for Speed 2017-01-28
When you haven’t been in a racing car for over six months, you start to wonder if you can still do this. It doesn’t help when the rookies are all churning out practice laps better than one’s own PB’s, and breaking lap records as though they fully expect Trump to push the big red button.

The year got off to a rocky start, with my car trying to drive itself left off the dyno. Apparently if both rear wheels are pointing hard left, you can’t dyno the car. Who knew?

Friday practice, first session fairly wet on new slippery tyres. What a blast! Nothing like full opposite lock to get you back on the bicycle. Session 2, dry but oil. Low 16’s, and I used the oil for a bit of self delusion to knock another ½ second off. That’s alright.

Qualifying! I spent a few laps behind David and Rowan, and then concluded it was going to take 3 – 4 more laps just to pass them. So I backed off, to give myself a nice run. It wasn’t enough, and I caught up to them in Turn 5. Ok, so back off some more. Too much, Willie passed me. Stop playing games, just drive fast. I don’t know what happened after that, suffice it to say I missed 2nd place by 0.03s from Wesley. It didn’t matter though, random draw put Wes in 18th, and me in 15th.
I had an average start in Race 1, passing David in the first turn and clamping Rowan in the gap round Turn 2 to keep David at bay. I got passed Rowan in Turn 4, and Willie was firmly in my sights. Lots of oil at Turn 8 made things slippery, dusty or both. Interesting times!

I pulled a slightly sketchy out-brake manoeuvre into 5 to get past Willie. It was close, but intact rear fenders attests to the fact that I got away with it. This put me in second place. For much of the rest of the race I was on my own, trying to close the gap with Juan and prevent anyone else closing the gap on me. There was one interesting moment coming round Turn 1, to see a class C car turning back into the track after a spin. We had a few tense milliseconds as we negotiated who was going left and who was going right. It all worked out in the end.

My final lap was the fastest in Class L, and about 0.2s shy of my personal best. Given that I also had to back off in Turns 5 – 8 due to an ailing Class T car, I wonder if I could have beaten my previous best.

 For race 2 the random grid had placed most of the L’s close together. It was going to be an interesting race. Wesley got ahead at the start (I really need to improve my starts), and although I clawed it back in Turn 2 I couldn’t make it stick. He was faster out of the corner and out-dragged me to Turn 4. I also mistook Carel’s grey B-car for Willie, who I tried to block giving more of a lead to Wesley. At the top of the hill Juan dived me into Turn 6, squeezing through a 2-foot gap to get ahead.  Wes and Juan then pulled ahead a bit, and I put all my effort into closing it down. I also got front-row seats to their battle, which was rather epic. With about two laps to go I had reduced the gap to about a car length. In the dying seconds of the penultimate lap, Turn 8, Juan made his move. Wes had to let him through, seriously compromising his own line. That gave me the opportunity to glide right past on the straight. I think Wesley contemplated going round Turn 1 side-by-side with me, but decided against it. However, in Turn 2 Wesley dug deep and carried the necessary pace to pass me again before Turn 4. He continued his afterburner run, passing Juan up the hill. There was 0.3s between the 3 of us as we crossed the line. Epic race, and a well-deserved win for Wesley.

My lead over Wesley in Race 1 was enough to get me a 2nd-place trophy. Wes was 3rd, and Juan took 1st place. It was nice to take some silverware giraffe-ware home in the first race of the season.

Mash up video: https://youtu.be/Og8NYmPhZwo
Race 1: https://youtu.be/IFdQVJ8-w2s
Race 2: https://youtu.be/4tVrcpScagk

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