Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kyalami - 08/11/2008 - Round 10

It’s incredible to think the final round of the Pro Tour has arrived already, and the nine rounds that have passed have each been great experiences in their own way. The 10th round at Kyalami was to be no different.

The 1st race was quite boring as far as Formula Vee standards go! I was on my own most of the time, trying to keep touch with the leading bunch. Unfortunately it seemed that some damage to my front tyre (sustained at the crash at the previous round) had really started to affect the handling of the car. The understeer got increasingly worse, but I managed to come over the line for 4th place.

We managed to get a replacement tyre for the 2nd race, which turned out to be completely wet! After running the sighting lap before the race start, it seemed the track was pretty wet; wet enough I thought for a gamble to try start in 2nd gear. The 2nd gear ratio is very short in a Vee, and I think it would have worked out had I practiced such a thing before! It turned out to be a complete disaster, with me stalling the engine about five metres into the race. Luckily I was rolling enough to ease the clutch out, but by that time I was basically in last position. But from there I had one of my best races!

Everyone seemed really cautious on the slippery track, and I was passing cars very quickly. I took no risks on the brakes, as it was very easy to lock the wheels and fly straight off the track, but I was pushing hard in the corners trying to find the grippiest part of the track. It was scary at times, but it worked out great. I worked my way back up to 3rd, with the leaders way too far in front to catch. I merely maintained position for the last 3 or 4 laps in very tricky conditions, but it seemed I was lapping slightly quicker than the leaders at that point! It would have been interesting had I not stalled at the start, but the race would not have been that fun coming back through the field!

All in all, the year has been a great success, finishing 6th in the championship, and consistently challenging for podiums in the final few races. I have learned an incredible amount this year, maybe even more than last year when I first started out. To try and challenge in the top 5, let alone podiums, is extremely difficult. I am thankful for being in such a great team to provide me with that opportunity though, with a wealth of experience and knowledge to help both me and my teammate to push further up the grid.