OK, NOW I’m ready…

April 16th, 2010

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I sucked at Long Beach. Spun in both qualifiers. I had one good pass in practice, but frankly it was lucky. Corner 10 is insanely long, and you have to go in much faster than you think. It’s an exercise in commitment.

I like that. This is a really challenging motorsport. Today I walked through the pits at the Long Beach GP where we’re doing Team Drift, talked to a few people, walked the track a bit with Ron Fellows, and talked with him about the drifting vs. gripping race. He said we’re more likely to be in the wall, and I think it’s true. Racing is racing, but drifting is more on the extreme edge of motorsport. I like that.

So, the Viper is a handful. Not really an easy car. For one thing, you sit really far back, so you think you’re a hero, way sideways, and then you see the video, and you suck.

Also the car wants to grip, it’s a racecar at its core. So although it’s got great power, KEEPING it sideways is tough. On the one hand, sitting so far back it’s tough to feel that point where it’s going to come around and spin. On the other, even if you’re in a pretty good drift, staying wide open in third will still eventually straighten out. It’s a tough edge to ride.

So I spent the day at Irwindale yesterday (THANKS guys). Feel MUCH better in the car now, basically before this I had only a half day seat time, and never even in third gear. now I’m much more comfortable, and can feel that point where the car has gone too far.

Also Sam came out and helped me with a few new techniques I had never used in rally. I set up a long decreasing-radius corner, and had Sam drive the car into it.

Wow! I’d never thought of that. Clutch in, riding out the drift, slowing by natural action of the slide, downshift, pick up the drift again on the apex and smoke out of it. Spent the rest of the day working on that.

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Then tried breathing on the brakes, clutch in, in full drift. Tightens the line a lot!

Next have to work on left-foot braking to change angle, but the car has huge rear bias that I’m gong to have to work on.

Still, I’m getting to grips with it.

Thanks to Brad, Sam and Stina of course, all the guys at ES, and Rhys for getting what crossing over from rally is like. Letting go of the wheel? About the most unnatural thing in the world for me. In a rally car you’d be killed. But here, it’s really necessary.

And for me, that’s the bottom line. This is an awesome opportunity to make racing fresh again. Learn new skills, master new challenges, get good all over again. It’ll be a while before I get to the same level in drift that I’ve gotten to in rally.

But I will.

ACP

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