Hello my friends. If you're regular readers of these diaries, you'll know that Fridays for Racing have always been a challenge, starting slow as we try to work out what the car needs.
Part of our problem comes from being able to do just a small amount of simulation, when there’s a lot of data we don’t have from last year at certain circuits because Conquest didn’t run there with the Dallara.
And we can’t rely on two-year-old data from the Panoz at places like Toronto and Long Beach, because the window where these Dallaras work at their best is pretty small, so we have to work hard to get it in that window by the time qualifying comes around on Saturday.
But Conquest raced here last year, so why the problem today? Well, we had the rear ride-height out by a HUGE amount. My race engineer Brandon Fry told me after the session and it came as a big, big relief. We couldn’t work out how we could be 2.5sec off the pace!
This morning wasn’t good either. I made a mistake when I spun and didn’t press the clutch as I rolled backward. I thought I was okay because the engine was off, but apparently it still does damage, so we had to have an engine change. Then we had an oil leak in the gearbox.
And then of course fighting the issue with the rear of the car being so loose because we were jacked up in the air. We start off making changes by taking front wing out because the front is pinned down. Then we start to lower the rear, lower the rear, just by the normal incremental changes that you normally do. But they lowered it radically and sent me out, thinking I’d come back in and bitch about the bumps, complaining the car is bottoming too bad. And I come back in and the rear skid plate is clean. That’s what tipped off Brandon that there was something severely wrong. He said, “You should be sparking all over the place, and you’re actually still making marks on the front skid plate.”
So now we are far happier than we should be for being 17th quickest! The negative, of course, is that we adjusted so many other things on the car to compensate for the looseness before we found the big problem, so there are a lot of changes we need to make to change it back. So yet again our Saturday morning is going to be getting back in the window, and fine-tuning when everyone else has fine tuned their cars already.
I tell you, this really isn’t the sort of circuit where you want a car that’s really loose. It’s so fast, and so bumpy, you go spinning into the grass or hit the wall – but whichever one it is, it will happen so, so fast. I’m proud I’m in the Rexall Edmonton Indy car because it is such a unique track. The first corner is like Turn 1 at Toronto: you exit alongside a wall. Then Turns 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are like a roadcourse because you have curves and grass. Then Turn 7 is again like a streetcourse corner up against the wall. And then you reach Turn 9 and you’re on a runway. Turn 11 and 12 are up by a wall and suddenly you’re back on a street course again.
So street course, road course and airport course with high-speed corners like we have in Cleveland. But at the same time it’s bumpy, and I swear they are worse: they need to really grind down the bumps again. But hey, the same for everybody.
I wish our setup had been the same for everybody! But hey, we’ll get it sorted. We always do. And I think top five or top six should possible for tomorrow, I really do. InToronto, we were 17th on Friday, and 5th on Saturday and should have won on Sunday.
I’ll speak to you all tomorrow. And hopefully I’ll not just be relieved, like tonight, but I’ll be properly HAPPY!