A rare lap on track for Oriol. (LAT photo)
Editor's note: Lotus DRR's Oriol Servia will be composing a daily diary throughout the weekend at Long Beach.
Because of the rain today, the Lotus DRR team didn't run much, so let's start the blog from a little before that. On Thursday evening, it was a great pleasure to attend the Road Racing Drivers Club dinner in honor of Jim Hall. It was an education. I'm embarrassed to say that before the evening, I didn't know that much about him and the Chaparral company.
Of course I'd heard the stories and seen these really interesting and technically intriguing cars, but I left the event long after I was intending to because the stories about him and the ones he told were just fascinating. It's very inspiring to see a driver who was so involved in the cars. My parents made me study so I studied mechanical engineering because that was the closest thing to racing I could do.
And that all-round knowledge of the big picture is what Jim Hall was all about: being a good racecar driver but also a great test driver and one who had that deep technical knowledge to allow him to take a basic concept and turn it into a great racecar. What a combination of talents – that guy had it all.
So that was a great start to the weekend, and then I discovered we had a primary sponsor for the race – Motegi Racing wheels. I'm happy to be with them because we've all seen them get more and more involved in the series over the past couple of years, and it's nice to get the recognition from them for the job we're doing.
The bad piece of news is that we had to change the Lotus engine so I get a 10-place grid penalty. It's not only that which frustrates me; it's the fact that it got changed not because it was broken but as a preventative measure. So if we had to take that penalty anyway, I'd rather have kept hold of that unit and put more miles on it by testing at Indy and Sonoma like the Honda and Chevy teams did.
Every driver wants more days in the car, and it would improve our chances of performing well if we could at least have a chance to fine-tune the chassis so that we can maximize what we've got, and so help us make up the power deficit to the other two manufacturers. And then of course, we hear about all 11 of the Chevrolet teams getting penalized 10 places on the grid. With only 10 Honda cars out there, that would have given us our best chance of getting into the top 10 on the grid. An opportunity lost, I think.
Having said that, we didn't run much today because it's supposed to be sunny for the rest of the weekend, so nothing we'd have found in the severe rain that hit Long Beach today would have been any use. What's the point in risking hydroplaning into a wall when we have a new car whose parts are in short supply? The shunts by Simona and Takuma Sato kind of prove my point.
Anyway, from here on, there should be no more rain, and so I'm looking forward to threading the needle around these historic streets once more. Come and see me!