Formula D Round 4 viva Las VegasSSSSS!!!!!
Unfortunately, I was not so lucky. Maybe I spent all my luck at the roulette tables. Oh wait a minute, I didn't win at the tables either! =(
This was the first time we attempted to use E85 Ethanol fuel for the RS-R Scion Toyo tC. I was definitely questioning the move at first but the change was significant. Mid-range torque had improved and the engine temperature dropped. Cooler engine means more power!!
When practice began on Thursday, I was a bit confused about the track layout. I did not know whether to feint into the main outer clipping zone or come in straight and initiate along the wall.
Our team did not start practice til later so I was also pressured to learn the track with only an hour left of practice. About 3 or 4 runs into practice I attempted to mock up a qualify-style-on-the-wall run. Concentrating too much on the outer clipping zone, I tapped the rear quarter panel of the tC and nearly collided into the tire barrier. Luckily, it was only a light tap. I cannot afford to wreck the tC during practice where no one is even spectating. For that session, I was fighting myself to learn the course. I decided to feint into the outer clipping zone because it looked more exciting and the speed wasn't that much faster when i drove straight into the zone. I finally got it somewhat down in the remaining 5-10 minutes of practice. It was good enough for me to feel confident going into qualify for Friday.
Track temperatures were soaring way above 100°F on Friday. In this blazing heat, the RS-R team worked very hard to set-up tire pressures for me. Like always, we are on the Toyo Tire Proxes R1-R for this event and we set the tire pressures to an initial 35psi F and about 38psi R. The only problem I was having was the lack of tire smoke. I needed to get on the throttle longer where I could. My speeds during the practice before qualify was around 81-83 mph. My angle was not bad either but I saw others like Daijiro Yoshihara and Ueo Katsuhiro diving into turn 1 almost perpendicular to the wall. Practice was about to end and the unthinkable happened. My engine temp. began to sky rocket instantaneously. I was running at a moderate 75°C the entire time and all the sudden, 80...85...90...95.... Motec Nate told us it could be air in the cooling system. Koji bled the cooling system and the temperature dropped back to the mid 70s again. I went once and came back to find out that the tC had a bad head-gasket. It was losing water.
At this point, we had limited options. Swapping motors was not an option at that moment as qualify was about to start. We simply had to keep temperatures down and limit the time the engine stayed on. Koji bled the system once more before my run was about to start. We kept the engine off until the green light and as soon as I was given the "go", I cranked the motor and blasted off the starting line. I got a score of 60. Why? Because I wanted to stay conservative and make it safe into the top 32 but I think I was too conservative. Since the engine was still good, Koji gave me the ok to run the 2nd qualify run. I pushed a little harder and scored a 74.1. That placed me 16th against Tyler McQuarrie who was at 17th. Tyler!??!!? YES!! Revenge time!
As soon as qualify ended, Team RS-R began tearing the motor out to swap out back up motor in. The back up 3SGE we had was not set up for E85 Ethanol so I had to be aware of drastic changes in engine temp.
On my lead lap, Tyler was on my door once again. The run was flawless and simple. I felt confident to get even closer on his door. As Tyler left the green light, I tried so hard to keep up with his car on the straight. Then all the sudden, his car stalls for a bit and I'm like "what the?" so I lift and he gets back on the throttle, creating a half-a-car-length gap between us. At this point, I am freaking out because I had to close the gap between us. I managed to get on his door once again through the outer clipping zones and to the first inside clipping point. Now this is where I was having trouble on my previous following lap. I knew I had to stay close to the clipping point without over shooting it so i transitioned early and dived into Tyler's tire smoke. I was hoping to find a clear track in front landing right upon Tyler's passenger door, but he was right there, stalled. Not getting the car to slow down fast enough, I collide into Tyler's rear quarter panel and spin.
My day ended early for me as I sat back to watch the top 16 driver intros and so on. My Scion teammate Tanner Foust drove like the champ that he is all the way to the top. Man, how does that guy do it? Goodjob to Team Scion Racing and Rockstar for the win. Next time, I'll be up there.