WHEN: Most Friday evenings. TIME:

11 May 2009

Formula Libre - 08/05/2009 - Race Report

So it was Libre class again and everyone was eager to show improvement on the night.

Ashwin proposed that we get there early and clean the track because there was so much rubber on the track; it was starting to get bumpy.
Costa, Ayrton and Phil got there nice and early, as per instruction, and started to clean the track. We think that Ashwin waited outside until we had finished and then strode in but we were wrong…. he was just late. Actually, we was at a function so although we think it was part of his great plan, we forgive him this time. Kevin and Luke also were there to lend a helping hand as was Gwain so it did not take long to get the job done.

Once the track was clean, it gleamed and a decision was made not to goop it for the Libre class. The motors might have taken strain so I think it was the right decision. This however ensured that the normal levels of grip that we were used to were no longer there and it reminded me of the old days were tyre cleaning pitstops were going to be the order of the day.

Qualifying came and went with all of us struggling with grip but learning lots for the main race and the top positions were Ashwin, Erlo, Ayrton, Costa, Brad and Phil.

In the first race, the newer guys battled a lot with the less than normal grip and a 12 minute race ended up taking more than 35 minutes. Gwain ended up taking that heat from newcomer Wynand and Vicwith Aubrey and Mikheel bringing up the rear.

In the second race, Tony ran away with it as he managed to decipher the track conditions and grew in confidence. I think this is Tony’s first outing in the Libre class for a long time and it was nice to have him back. I’m sure he’ll soon be fighting at the top again in no time.
Mike and Jono ended up having a ding dong battle which went down to the wire. Mike was battling with grip and Jono’s yellow lightning Ferrari 330 was flying. Jono has a potentially serious deadly weapon for the future even though he was only 1 segment (0.07 sec on an average lap) away from Mike.
Luke and Kevin also had a very close fight with the smack talk much better during the lane changes with Luke eventually edging away from Kevin towards the end of the race.

In the top race, things were going to be tough. Ashwin was ready with his ever well prepared GT40. Erlo’s Riley looked good on the starting line and we knew from past races that he was going to be fast. Ayrton out-qualified Costa and his Opel Astra with the silicon tyres was going to be the most consistent with grip but was seriously lacking in speed. Costa’s Chev Camaro was fast but was struggling with grip as he was using the larger diameter rims. Brad decided that his normal Ninco was not going to cut it so decided to use Jono’s yellow Ferrari P4 and we knew it was fast. Phil’s black and white GT40 did well in previous battles but was also battling with grip.

The race started and a first corner slip out by Costa but him almost a lap down whilst the rest screamed away. The racing was tight though with cars following each other very closely. I managed to claw my way up to fourth as two guys in front of me had an off and there I stayed for a while. The top runners decided to stop for a tyre clean as this greatly improved grip levels and before I new it, I was leading the race. I promptly called to race control to announce to everyone who was leading and as this was done, I crashed at the end of the main straight… back down to fourth again – such was the closeness of the racing.
By the end of the race the whole field was only separated by 5 laps and a last segment scurry provided the closest racing finish in this class in ages.
Ashwin held on by a whisker from and very hard charging Brad and took it by 1 segment. Less than a lap behind, Costa and Ayrton we having there own battle and Costa managed to take him by only 4 segments. Erlo took fifth with Phil bringing up the rear. I was so busy fending off seemingly everyone at some stage that I do not know why Phil’s GT40 ended up so low. It was probably grip related but I would not rule out excellent driving by me as the reason… ;-).

Personally, I think that the combination of different track conditions, the tyre clean pitstops and the emerging younger drivers all contributed to an amazing race that left all drivers with a yearning for more. If this can be emulated repeatedly, we have an even greater class than we originally thought.

Final Race Positions (Qualifying position in brackets):

1 Ashwin - 98.54 (1)
2 Brad - 98.53 (5)
3 Costa - 97.71 (4)
4 Ayrton - 97.67 (3)
5 Tony - 95.37 (10)
6 Erlo - 94.34 (2)
7 Phil - 93.51 (6)
8 Mike - 89.57 (8)
9 Jono - 89.56 (7)
10 Luke - 72.24 (9)
11 Gwain - 69.44 (12)
12 Wnand - 69.12 (15)
13 Kevin - 69.09 (11)
14 Vic - 67.92 (13)
15 Aubrey - 63.83 (14)
16 Mikheel - 48.83 (16)

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