Christodoulou Returns To Virginia International Raceway It's been a busy week, and following a huge struggle with planes to America, I finally managed to reach the Virginia International Raceway in time for the race. It took a total of 36...
Christodoulou Returns To Virginia International Raceway
It's been a busy week, and following a huge struggle with planes to America, I finally managed to reach the Virginia International Raceway in time for the race. It took a total of 36 hours to get to my destination; and required six trains, from Lichfield to London, then Brussels, then Amsterdam followed by two flights to Minneapolis and onto Raleigh/Durham to reach the track. It was set to be a 2 hour 45 minute race at Virginia International Raceway, not too far from New York.
After all the successes we have had in the Mazda RX8 this year, we had been given a weight ballast to be added the cars this week; an extra 70lb. I had already been to the track during the season last year, but a major difference now is that many of the corners had been made a lot harder. Virginia is extremely quick, with a lot of high speed flowing turns. From the tuned aerodynamics of last year, to a higher concentration on power and speed (but therefore less grip) this year, it proved to be tricky. There were parts of the track that I had never had to think about before, and now I was fighting with the steering to keep it going in the right direction.
Qualifying was tough. I scooped 6th on my second lap but then had a huge wheel lock-up and flat-spotted my front tyres. I couldn't complete any more laps. Luckily my time was good enough to stay in 6th, but I was annoyed with myself as I knew I could have been quick enough to break into the top five.
I started the race. I was fighting for 5th the majority of the time, but even after I eventually made my way past the guy in front I had to take a pitstop for more fuel.
I was back in 6th, then dropped to 7th. It was getting close to the two hour mark, and my engineer was on the radio to me telling me to keep on pushing.
There were only a few minutes before our last pitstop, and suddenly the safety car was out. This changed a lot of things, but not in our favour. Everyone was bunched up; all the cars pitted for the final time and we made a driver change (I passed the car onto John Edwards). We made a tyre change and refuelled, but our pit stop wasn't the quickest andwe lost a few more places. By this time we were now in 10th position.
During the last hour there were another three safety cars, and this didn't help as it was using up our time to take those positions back. Five laps from the end we realised we couldn't gain any more places, and then on the last corner on the last lap, John became snared up behind a slightly slower car, allowing the 11th place car to power past just before the finish line.
Had the safety car had been deployed 4 or 5 minutes after our pitstop it would have played beautifully in our favour, but that just wasn't how this race was destined to play out. It was just a case of unfortunate timing.
We're now off to Lime Rock for testing in preparation for the next race on May 31st, in around a month's time.