If you thought my next race was Monza, you were wrong. In between Spa and Monza I did the Indy Lights race in Baltimore! It was great to jump in that car again on a street circuit.
The new Baltimore circuit was fantastic! It was bumpy in some places smooth in others, had fast corners, slow corners and just a good mix of everything. I won't spend much time on this particular race weekend because everything went really well until the race. It was awesome to get my first pole in Firestone Indy Lights on the Saturday before the race. Our car was great all weekend and I was loving the track and the event.
When the green flag was waved I led the race until about halfway. I then started to feel the balance go off only turning left. I thought something had broken on the car or I skimmed a wall or something. But after about two laps I was still going, so I figured I'd just have to manage what was going on and make it to the finish.
My teammate Esteban Guerrieri eventually got by me and there was nothing I could do, really. All of a sudden, about four laps after he passed me, I went through the flat Turn 2 and it was an extremely bumpy corner, so right at the very last bump on the exit my right-rear upright on the suspension snapped clean in half, shooting me nose first into the wall.
I saw the video and it looks pretty stupid, because I'm actually going straight when the suspension snaps. I assure you, I didn't turn straight into a wall flat-out on purpose! It was probably the hardest hit of my career, but fortunately it didn't do much damage. I thought the hit was hard enough to where I couldn't drive it back to the pits, but when I got out all that was damaged was the front wing and the suspension piece that had broken.
I was lucky there, but it was a disappointing end to a promising weekend. Another great learning experience, though, and I was ready to get to Monza to finish off the GP3 season.
When I think of Italy, being the car person that I am, I think of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. I got an incredible opportunity the Wednesday before the race weekend to go visit the Lamborghini factory. My ultimate dream supercar is a Lamborghini!
Myself, my dad and my brother Christian got to go with a great group of people also from the U.S. It was definitely one of the coolest places I've been to! I tried to see if they could sneak me onto the two-and-a-half year waiting list for the Aventador, but they didn't seem to like that idea...maybe next time.
The next day we got to go to the Yamaha MotoGP factory. I'd say I'm definitely in the market for a Yamaha R1 after going there! It was really cool hearing about all the ins and outs of MotoGP. I'm definitely sticking with four wheels, though – I was useless on a dirt bike as a kid.
I finally got to the track Thursday afternoon for a track walk and, wow, what an amazing place. I had been to the race last year just to watch but now I was walking the track and getting ready for practice the next day. I knew the racing would be epic and very close. I had so much experience using the draft from my Skip Barber days, I knew I could put that to work there.
The cars were set up with absolute minimum downforce, which meant maximum straight-line speed. Our car was immediately well balanced and I was quite pleased with how things were going. In free practice 2, I was using the tow really efficiently. I was on a lap with a purple first sector (quickest of the session) by about 0.3sec and then a green second sector (personal best) and then there was a yellow flag in the very last corner, so I had to abort the lap. It was disappointing because when we looked at the data that lap would have put me P1 by about two tenths had I just gotten around the last corner. Oh, well! Nothing we can do about that and we were still P7 or something, I think. At least we knew the car was extremely fast and I was ready for qualifying.
Qualifying, however, did not go anywhere near how we thought it would go. The first run on new tires was average and I kept getting traffic in the wrong places. I made a few mistakes but the car still felt really good, so I was just looking forward to the second set.