We're getting ready to roll out today for our first practice and qualifying session at Le Mans, and a lot of what we accomplished two weeks ago during the official test day has set us on the path we're currently on.
We dealt with rain for most of the test, but at least in those conditions, we came away feeling pretty happy about our SRT Vipers and what the drivers and engineers learned. We also had a mechanical issue that limited our running at the end of the day, but I'm not too upset about it.
It's like taking a negative and turning it around in a way, because we had a gearbox issue on the No. 53 car, and from that we were able to identify it the test rather than have to discover and deal with it this week when every session is critical.
Xtrac made some new parts for it to fix it; a locking ring came out of the differential, so we have new replacement parts and they're in all the cars. That's the biggest negative of the test, but it's probably the biggest positive because now it's fixed for the race.
It has been raining a lot since we arrived, and that could also be looked at as a negative, but I'm really pleased that the cars handled well and no other issues were found. Then in the dry, and there wasn't much to offer, they also handled really well, so that was a pleasant surprise. It was really a boring test day because we were just doing driver laps and doing a few basic aero runs so we could validate some simulation stuff. And that's really about it.
What came out of the test, though, and the simulation results, is what matters most. Think of it like taking an actual test to see if all you've learned was correct and accurate. At least based on the data we captured and combed through, we're just going to tune our test day setup a hair based on the sim and we'll see where we end up tonight.
We know we're going to have a nice racecar for our guys to drive; it's just how fast are we going to be?
As tempting as it might be to go out and try and break lap records, we have to be smart about this first day of official running. I don't want to say we're going to be aggressive; we don't have to take any chances with the car but we can't leave anything on the table either, so we have to run the car pretty hard but use our heads. There's no doubt we want to show well for all of the SRT Viper fans, so we'll do our maximum without getting too adventurous at this point in the week.
I know our drivers can't wait to get going again, although as of right now, it's raining again. Kuno Wittmer has been spending a lot of time on the simulator, and most of our drivers have all tuned themselves up on it, but Kuno was the quickest, he was in the quickest car on test day, and he said it all worked really well for him.
With the limited track time here before race week, a tool like that has proven to be invaluable. Without it, we'd be scratching our heads trying to come up with the best setups based on personal experience and a bit of old school know-how.
There's nothing wrong with that; it's the way we did it for decades before all of the computer tools crept into the sport, but we're in the business of delivering instant results and that's where the state-of-the-art technology has taken us.
And once we finish up Wednesday night – at midnight here in in France – we'll look at all the data and use all those tools to come up with an updated and optimized setup for Thursday. That's the routine we'll be in leading up to the race.
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