Durban: Arie Luyendyk's blog 2008-02-27

South Africa. Just those two words sound very very far from home. I had the opportunity to go to Cape Town just before the week of the race to visit my Aunt and see where my Dad grew up. Cape Town was beautiful and it as nice to see all the ...

South Africa. Just those two words sound very very far from home. I had the opportunity to go to Cape Town just before the week of the race to visit my Aunt and see where my Dad grew up. Cape Town was beautiful and it as nice to see all the spectacular beaches and views from famous Table Mountain. After just a day it was already time to head over to Duran for the 7th Round A1GP.

The climate in Durban was an immediate shock, much different from the mild climate of Cape Town, Durban is on the Indian Ocean coast and the humidity is incredibly high. The race would take place on the streets along the coast and the atmosphere was great, the city really embraces A1GP.

On Wednesday before the race a few drivers including me visited a school for less fortunate children just outside of Durban. It was really nice to visit the kids, they were really happy we came. We played soccer with them and helped them paint their swing-set. The children were very poor and some had no families others unfortunately had HIV, this was very hard to take but it was nice to see that we made them smile. It was an eye opening experience and it really made me grateful for the life I've had and things I'm able to see and do as a racing driver.

So now it was finally Friday and time to take to the track. Rookie Session 1 the track was incredibly dirty and it took a lot of time to get up to speed on the tricky circuit. In the end we made a lot of progression with the stability of the car under the brakes. In the first part of the session it was really hard to control the rear brakes from locking, then we made some adjustments and it improved tremendously. The circuit was very narrow but still quite smooth considering it was on the streets. The first corner was so difficult for me because it was so tight I had to overlap my hands to make it (disadvantages of being tall, my hands would hit my legs!) I ended up 12th in the first practice.

Rookie session 2 was pretty hectic and traffic held me up the first half of the practice. Many people were on an in lap or just coming out of the pits infront of me, it was quite frustrating. Once I had a clear lap I was a bit too aggressive and made light contact with the barrier. Luckily though the team changed the nose in time for a single flying lap that placed me 11th for the session. It's a shame because the track time I missed was vital, every lap on the street circuit I was getting faster. I am very pleased though with the progression of the car through the changes we made.

South Africa was a great experience, the weekend was over before I knew it and now its back to Arizona on a 30 plus hour plane ride!

Until Mexico City!

Arie

-credit: arieluyendyk.com

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Series A1GP
Drivers Arie Luyendyk