Right. Saturday is here and its qualifying for the 1st session....so I really had to be mentally prepared before I went out for this one. Which I think I was! I got my mind in order, had some things to try out as I still don't know the circuit enough to be fully on the limit....
So I went out and started to try different gears for some corners, and 2nd gear was still giving me grief as normal. Tyres and brakes were a bit cold, so no laptime would come of these experimental laps anyway....but woah when I got to the last corner, there was an oil flag being shown. I could see some water across the track.....and HOLY CRAP the car got unsteady through there, was shocking :P After the session we learned it was anti-freeze, so no wonder it was so slippy. Anyway, some of the top guys came up behind me, so I had to let them through which made me lose time always....I needed to put a good lap in sometime soon. Symm Grobler came past me, and thats when I decided to go....he is usually one of the top drivers on the grid...he was about 1 second ahead of me. I felt I could follow him nicely throughout the lap....in fact....I thought I was gaining on him!! But then the chicane came along and I missed 2nd gear...had to quickly punch it into 3rd gear, but lost a lot of time and watched Symm pull away....I got through the anti-freeze okay, but lost time as I'm sure everyone else did. I wanted to try somehow to keep up with Symm who was a bit in the distance....I had an unbelievable first few corners, it was really on the limit. But then a freakn red flag came out :/ John Lerm crashed at Sunset corner, and that was scary. Drove past and saw he'd hit the notorious inside wall....his car was totally wrecked....let alone my awesome lap :P
Came back in the pits and went to see what laptimes I had done, and to gauge where exactly I was on pace, as nobody had timed me on Friday. It turns out I qualified 10th with a 2m01.4...ahead of me was Courtney with 2m01.2. Pole time was 1m58.4....and what was funny was seeing Symm Grobler in 5th position with a 1m59.9.....hehhehheh his fastest lap was the one where I was gaining on him slightly. Things looked good ;) Come on you piece of shit 2nd gear....
Between sessions, big Dean and I sort of figured out my 2nd gear issues....the linkage was slightly loose at the back. We tightened it up a bit, and hoped it would make it better. It was such a long wait to the race....the programme was delayed by at least an hour, and nobody even knew if we were going to even get the 2nd heat in!!! An hour later meant it would be run in the dark :P The 1st heat was reduced by 1lap....so the race was only 7laps :/ It's disappointing that there's so few laps in Formula Vee races, but that's how it goes.
I felt confident about the race. Courtney and I decided to not fight each other....we wanted to work together to catch the group ahead of us, who had qualified on 2m00.1....so this race would be interesting!! The start came up quickly....got to the right grid slot (yay) which was on the inside. Lights went out and I thought I had a decent start....well, that was until 2 guys came flying past me!!! I backed off a bit for the 1st couple corners, as I didn't feel like crashing. Shouldn't have done that, lost more places :/ There was some tangling in T3, and Gert van den Berg spun round...others were involved, so managed to get a couple places...Courtney was behind me (he had a bad start) and slipstreamed me before Sunset corner...I tried to hold it around the outside, but errrr that didn't work out very well. I oversteered so badly on the marbles, I thought I was going to fly off and crash :/ But I held it together by some miracle, with nobody else hitting me. The rest of the 1st lap was decent, but thinking back to it, my mindset was all wrong. I wanted to stay a couple car lengths behind the guy in front of me, to get comfy with the car...NO!!!! I should be racing these guys, c'mon...but I was getting 2nd gear now, and that was good.
But somehow things were not working out for me....some driver had a problem I think going into the hairpin, and I got held up which allowed Johan Gouws past me. GAARRGH I got held up by him for a few laps :/ Could not find a way past...finally I got a better run coming out of T3, and nailed him into Sunset. I immediately pulled a gap on him, but started getting gear issues again. Began to get frustrated and even wasn't changing gears cleanly, pushing the clutch only halfway and going across start/finish in neutral....stupid shit like that. It started to get a bit of a nightmare. Wow but had some scary moments....some guy spun ahead of me coming out of T2...the dude didn't know which way he wanted to slide. He was all over the place, and I just didn't know which direction to choose to avoid him :/ Thought I was going to hit him but managed to get passed okay....wanted to start catching the guys ahead, but wasn't driving well at all. Without knowing it, I was overdriving the car. Going into T3 I went in waayyy too hot....was well sideways, and by the time I caught it, I was already into the gravel. Took a nice trip bouncing along in the litter, cursing and screaming and watching Gouws drive back past....I just gave up.
Got back on track and just cruised to the finish basically, since it was the last couple laps remaining....there was nobody near me in front, so no hope of catching. My issues with 2nd gear creeped in again, and just wanted to get it sorted for the 2nd race. Looking at the timesheets, I finished in P13 :( Quite disappointing...I managed 2m01.6, but wasn't sure how, as that was the lap I overtook Johan Gouws into Sunset, and I'm sure I missed a gear on that lap. Yet again, disappointed by my 1st heat like I was at Wesbank Raceway.
Since most of the categories races were shortened, and some were even combined, we managed to get a 2nd heat in the dying light. I smiled between sessions. I knew where I had gone wrong, it was all mental. This time I was confident for the 2nd race, and was focused on the job ahead. Big Dean did some last minute fixes on the linkage at the back, and it clamped better. Man, I hope it holds....
Starting from P13 wasn't ideal. There were some slow drivers ahead of me, and wanted to get past them as soon as I could....but let's concentrate on race start first, shall we :P I felt I was too tame in the 1st race, so I got into an aggressive mindset. Starting on the outside now, and I got a decent start again. A bit of wheelspin, and some drivers behind were putting pressure on me. But into T1 I just went flat out :P Kept it around the outside, so I was on inside for T2 and T3....it worked out okay. Someone had gone off in front, there was just dust everywhere. I was in that aggressive mode, but knew I had to calm it down. Was definitely overdriving the car in the 1st race, but now I was hooking up the corners nicely, and getting 2nd gear well. I was much much quicker than the guys in front of me going into the scary corners. Before the race I told Anthony Taylor that I had tried to take Sunset flat out (which didn't really work eehhehe)...he just stared back at me wide-eyed....I guess it's not quite the thing to try :P So the drivers in the pack I was in were even braking for Sunset, and I was just tapping off. Got a great run on them going into the next corner (Clubhouse), and kept the extra speed to outbrake them.
I had some absolutely unreal battles with guys....wheel-to-wheel isn't even the word hehhe, it was just crazy stuff going on. This is even crazier with the knowledge that if I flip the car, I will probably die hehehe seeing as I have very little head clearance to my roll-over bar. But it worked out okay. Missed 2nd gear going into the chicane (just because I didn't blip the throttle enough) which allowed the guy behind me to get a run into the final corner. I defended quite hard, but he stayed on the inside none-the-less: I was dealing with an aggressive dude. Okay, nice. So I kept on him coming out the last corner and got a run into him going into T1. This is no place for messing around side-by-side, but I was going for it anyway, screw it :) went around the outside of him into T1 flat out....at this moment my life flashed before my eyes :P we both went wheel-to-wheel through T1 and T2, the scariest corners on the track. By far the coolest moment of my racing "career" lol....I think I pissed him off with that though, as he just divebombed me going into T3. SCREW THIS GUY, I really needed to be battling with the guys ahead for God's sake. Some other driver took advantage and followed him through T3 while I was vulnerable around the outside :/ Managed to destroy them into Sunset and Clubhouse as usual, so that worked out :)
Had to now catch the guys ahead with only a couple laps remaining. I pushed hard, the group in front were 4 drivers, including Courtney....on the last lap I managed to catch them, and things got real interesting. Courtney was busy sliding around in front of me in places I couldn't take advantage of :/ It got to the final few corners, I was definitely going to divebomb someone, it just had to happen :P It turned out Johan Gouws missed a gear coming out of the bottom of the Mineshaft...so everyone was scrapping into the chicane. Was going to line up whoever was ahead of me to divebomb into the last corner, but Johan was already going to do that on me :P Screewww that, I kept it around the outside and punched out the corner nicely. We were running side-by-side driving to the finish line....I shifted to 3rd gear a little earlier, and he jumped slightly in front. Then he shifted and was his turn to drop back a bit. I wasn't even looking ahead, was just watching him and smiling as we crossed the finish line together :D It was anyone's guess who got it, it all depended on where his transponder was placed relative to mine!!!
Checked the timesheets....Johan and I registered exactly the same time....but had me ahead ahahhahha :D finished P11, but it should have been P9 if I hadn't been dicing so long with those other two early on in my race. Yeeeeee but this race was a thousand times better than I had at Wesbank :) Such a crazy track, and some awesome action with guys going into mad fast corners....I thought I would have got a 1m59 in this race, as the gears were fine and I felt I was pushing. But my FL was only a 2m01.0 :/ I was highly confused about it....in quali I did 2m01.4, and that was with a missed gear and the anti-freeze last corner....very very odd. Courtney's FL was a 2m01.8.
Thinking about it afterwards, I think I really need to follow someone faster than me to get me going. When I was driving alone, I thought I was going fast, but in reality I wasn't :/ So that's nice, I feel I'm learning things as I'm going along. Of course I'd be learning things, it's only my 2nd race meeting, but I mean I'm conscious of the things I have to improve. I'm just glad I have an awesome car under me. Knowing how good new tyres actually are, I could have been running really well at Wesbank Raceway.....here at Kyalami though, it's left me with a bit of head scratching :/ I'm 2.7 seconds down on the fastest lap, but I really think I should have been 1.5 seconds down (at the worst) instead. Have to improve next time, but I think I know what to do...
The next race is at East London in a couple months....the old F1 Grand Prix circuit :) The F1 guys used to race there before they moved to Kyalami....so, this will be enjoyable to say the least :) One of the corners includes the notorious Potter's Pass. I've heard about it, I've seen it, I haven't even driven it yet and I'm already scared :/ Here we go again Zaahir...