|There is a difference between taking a defensive line to discourage
an overtaking attempt, or going out of your way to deliberately block
someone. Sometimes it's just a subtle difference. Then
again, sometimes it's blatantly obvious.
In my opinion, this particular maneouvre was a blatant block...
|Coming back to where we left off, Diedrich Will in the #27 Honda
Civic overshot his braking point for the hairpin.
As I'm rounding the hairpin and drifting my car out to the right edge of the track, #27 cuts back to the left side of the track.
|That wasn't the block yet. That's just the usual peculiar
difference between FWD and RWD cornering techniques, compounded by the
fact that Diedrich was way off-line to begin with.
Watch the way he pulls away from me on the straight sections of the track.
|Even faster in a straight line is the #77 Honda CRX of Greg Van Gool. The CRX is a much more powerful car than a Chevette, and with the advantage of FWD traction he easily blows past me on the straightaway.|
|As we turn left to enter the kink on the back straight, note how far ahead of me both the #77 CRX and #27 Civic already are.|
|But they're ssssssslow on the exit of the kink, and my
trusty Chevette easily gobbles up the distance between us.
Laugh all you want about these underpowered old cars. But a Chevette on ice is one sweet handling racecar!
I really don't want to have to get out of the throttle here, so I'm forced to go wider to the left than I'd prefer in order to avoid running up the back of the dog-slow CRX.
Once he's got his FWD car hooked up again, I have no chance of passing Greg's CRX on the straight.
|Plus I'm being passed by Ken Staples in his #19 Nissan
Pulsar. I make sure to leave him lots of room.
Ken's car must have around 900 horsepower under the hood! He usually starts right up at the front of the grid. I was a little stunned to see him in my mirrors so soon. For a moment there I wondered how he could possibly have come around to lap me ALREADY!?
But Ken had a big problem in the first Rubber race which put him all the way down to starting 27th. It's not even two full laps into this race and Ken has already passed half the field. He went on the finish 3rd.
|It sure would be nice to have a powerful car. But it certainly
helps a lot if you also know how to drive. Watch how smoothly Ken
drifts this FWD car through the corner.
He had to take a fairly tight approach into the corner to get past me on the inside. While braking, he pitches his car into the corner with a very sideways stance.
|With the RWD Chevettes we can swing the back end of the car out
under power and hold it there in a "powerslide" all the way around the
corner with the throttle on. This keeps the nose pointed into the
corner where we'd like to be headed.
But watch in the video what happens with Ken's FWD Nissan as he gets back on the throttle. Even though he entered the corner in a big sideways slide, the moment he gets on the gas the front of the car washes out to the right and now he's fighting understeer.
Ken's spinning front wheels are pointing left (blue arrow), the car's nose is rotating to the right (black curved arrow), yet the car itself is sliding in a smoothly controlled trajectory (red arrow) exactly where Ken wants it to go.
How does he do that? I look at those wheels pointing in all the wrong directions, the car rotating to the right even though the front wheels are steering left, and it gives me a headache. FWD is bizarre.
|There are four FWD cars immediately ahead of me as we enter the
second left turn just before the start of the Esses.
The #25 Rabbit is still in front of Diedrich's #27 Civic. And Greg's #77 CRX is just ahead of Ken's #19 Nissan. But not for long...
Why is it that the Nissan corners so well (for a FWD car), whereas the CRX always seems to be heading straight off the corners into the nearest snowbank, which it's doing again right now?
|Ken has to back off for a moment to avoid the CRX, just out of view
to the right, as it biffs the snowbank.
It would be rather cheeky of me to pass Ken back at this point. But it would do my ego a world of good if I could later boast that I passed the all-conquering Nissan with my lowly Chevette.
But Ken immediately gets back on the throttle and shoots away from me.
|Ken has the luxury (and good sense) to pick his passing
opportunities under safe conditions.
He waits until the Pits straight after the Esses to go by Diedrich's Honda. As we approach the finish line he squeezes on the throttle and blasts by the slower Civic.
|The extra speed carries Ken a bit wide on the right turn, but Diedrich moves well over to the right to leave him plenty of room.|
|Unfortunately he has no intention of leaving me any room
The moment Ken is safely through, Diedrich turns sharp left to head me off.
|In his haste to get back over to the left side of the track, he almost drives into the snowbank and has to make a sudden course correction to the right.|
|I'm trying to follow Ken as he smoothly accelerates his Nissan
through the left turn and onto the straightaway.
But I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out where Diedrich is going as he zig-zags back and forth in front of me.
In the video clip, listen how the engine note changes as my foot comes off and on the throttle as I'm still unsure of where I'm supposed to go.
|I have great traction here, as evidenced by the way my car heels
over as I'm turning hard left. Check the angle of the horizon.
Diedrich however has given his car too much throttle and he's spinning his front tires.
His car is doing that ugly FWD thing now. His wheels are pointing left, where he'd like to go. But because the tires are spinning he's lost steering traction and the car is understeering badly. (Understeer sucks!)
Compare this photo to the one above and you can see clearly that the nose of his car is rotating away to the right, despite where his front wheels are pointed.
|As Diedrich understeers off to the right, I can finally get on the
throttle to pull up alongside him on the left.
Unless he actually stuffs his car into the outside snowbank, I really have no hope of passing him here. Once he gets his tires hooked up again, I'm sure he'll beat me to the hairpin anyway in a straight line drag race.
I'm more concerned about the way I'm being held up in the corners. There's not much I can do about the straightaways, but I'm definitely losing time because of him here in the corners.
|There are two ways to correct understeer in a FWD car. One is
reduce throttle. The other is straighten your steering out.
Diedrich must have reduced his throttle input. He sure as heck didn't straighten his steering any, because his wheels are still pointed hard left.
This makes no sense whatsoever.
He should have stayed on the throttle and simply straightened his steering. Look where Ken is going. Ken Staples obviously knows what he's doing. Why not just follow him?
We're supposed to be accelerating as hard as we can in a straight line onto the straightaway. But Diedrich instead chooses to lift off the throttle long enough to regain steering control, and then he turns hard left across my path.
|I was already fully committed to going up the left side. Now I'm
screwed. There's no way to avoid a collision.
If I jump on the brakes now, it will just lock my front wheels and I'll understeer straight into him.
Instead I stand on the throttle in an attempt to break the rear wheels loose and swing the tail out to the right. This should turn my car further left and hopefully I won't hit him too hard.
Note that his front wheels are still pointing left!
|Okay, now I'm good and sideways.
We should have been hard on the throttle to gain as much speed as possible onto this critical long straightaway.
Instead, he lifts off the throttle in order to block me, and now I'm pointed straight at the inside snowbank and I'm within a whisker of spinning out completely.
|I almost stuffed it into the snowbank, but managed to
recover pointed in the proper direction.
All my speed is gone, and I can only watch in frustration as Diedrich carries on down the track completely unaffected by the collision.
|And the CRX goes past me again as well.
I was a bit miffed at being blocked like this.
The sound track of this video clip had to be edited to censor out my inappropriate comments, although they sure felt appropriate to me at the time...