NOTE: Legendary sports car endurance racer Hans Stuck of Austria will be driving for BMW Team PTG in the Aug. 5 American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland at Portland (OR) International Raceway. At the wheel of a BMW M3 GTR, Stuck will be ...
NOTE: Legendary sports car endurance racer Hans Stuck of Austria will be driving for BMW Team PTG in the Aug. 5 American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland at Portland (OR) International Raceway. At the wheel of a BMW M3 GTR, Stuck will be seeking his first win at Portland since a 1993 victory in the old SPORTS CAR Supercar Series. Stuck missed last year's ALMS race at Portland due to a back injury, the first race he had missed in his 30+ years as a professional racer. In this narrative, Stuck describes how he drives a lap around the 1.944-mile, 12-turn circuit.
A Lap of Portland International Raceway
by Hans Stuck
Coming down the big front straightaway, you have to concentrate on your maximum latest braking point because this is the perfect place to outbrake somebody. On the other hand, if you're on your own, you always tend to turn in a little bit too fast because the first right-hander is not the real corner. The second, left-hand corner is the real corner. So you have to go a little bit slower into the first one to be able to put the power on early to take all the speed with you into the second. This is the important one. Also, it's pretty slippery there because the first corner doesn't have a regular grip, so if you miss your braking point, it's easy to go straight ahead into the grass and lose a lot of time. This is not a real nice driving corner, this is a chicane they put in afterwards. You can feel this, it hasn't got a rhythm. It's a corner that your heart doesn't really like, but you have to master it.
You accelerate out of the chicane, coming to a long sweeping right-hander which is always difficult because you never make your mind up whether you want to have your car to the perfect setting of a little understeer or oversteer. If you have one of these things too many, you are in big trouble. Too much understeer, you can't put the power down, and too much oversteer, you can't put the power down, either. Because the corner is so long, it has a big effect on lap times. This is a right-hander, then a left-hander, then another right. For those three corners, you have to have a really good balanced car. But even if your car is nicely balanced, you never have the feeling of doing maximum speed. With these long sweeps, sometimes you don't have enough grip. It's also very important to stay in one radius with the steering wheel, so it can be very difficult to drive. When you leave the last right-hander, put the throttle down heavy, full power through the left-right sweep onto the back straight. Stay close to the wall on the right side.
Then you approach a very tricky left-right chicane where you go massively over the curbs. There are very wide curbs on this corner and you really use them, but it upsets the car a lot. When you go from the left-hander into the right-hand section of the corner, you have to be prepared to brake. So when you jump off the inside curb, it's very easy to lock a wheel to brake in time for the tight right-hander that leads back to the pit straightaway. The corner onto the pit straight is so wide, it's always a fantastic corner. You accelerate to put the power down and go to the maximum left of the wall. You always sort of brush the wall, which is quite fun. And then you're out, hopefully in a good time. We're not going to see such a big difference in time between the BMW and Porsche, because the high-speed sections are in favor for the Porsches with the power and the handling sections favor the BMW. I think we're going to see a lot of close competition.