Changing the race length threw a wrench into traditional M-O tactics. (LAT photo)
LET'S TRY THIS AGAIN
Graham Rahal's character-building season continued at Mid-Ohio. It started with losing the full test day on Wednesday – one that saw the entire field get an early start on their setups – and the downhill slide throughout the weekend.
Wednesday's fuel pump failure left Rahal and new engineer Neil Fife working from behind once practice got under way on Friday, giving them little chance of recovering the ground that was lost, and by the time the race had concluded, all Rahal could think of was putting his 18th-place finish out of his mind and starting fresh in Northern California.
“We tried a ton of things in practice to try and make up for the time we lost, but found we were too low in qualifying, which make it hard to drive in the high-speed corners,” Rahal told RACER. “We were great in the low-speed stuff, but lost a lot of time in the fast stuff.”
Rahal would qualify 22nd and dealt with a handling imbalance during the race that called for fast hands and generated quite a bit of puckering on his part.
“In the race, I had five or six times where I thought the car was going around on me and I haven't had that happen ever,” he added. “I was just sideways everywhere. We can get the front to turn, but have no grip at the rear. It's a new setup we're working on with Neil, and he brings a really upbeat style to the timing stand and I know we'll get it sorted out.”
Exploring the capabilities of Fife's setups could have to wait until another area of the handling matrix is developed.
“I think we're learning that improving our damper package is the biggest thing right now,” Rahal explained. “Until we get that where we need it, it will be hard to really feel any big setup changes. I think we will find improvements and make things better, but there isn't one magic thing that will get us to where we need to be.”