|I'm so mad, my teeth are chattering and my knees are shaking.
have only myself to blame.
Three years ago I rolled this car. Two years ago I smashed it badly. Last year I was just plain uncompetitive. But this year I have no excuses whatsoever. The car runs perfectly, I'm feeling confident, and I'm leading the points standings in the Chevette Class.
So then I just about flipped the car in a bonehead mistake that could very well have ended in tears, just because I let my emotions get the best of me. That was really dumb.
Fortunately, the car seems undamaged and I only lost two positions. I need to take a deep breath, count to a hundred, and calm down.
Due to my improved attitude, I'm promptly rewarded with a lucky break...
|All on his own up front, Diedrich in the #27 Civic has again
overshot the entry into the hairpin and he's gone way too deep.
Jim in the Red #78 Chevette is covering the inside and turns in tight to the apex.
Nathan in the #35 Prelude tosses his car sideways into the hairpin.
Have I mentioned that I don't like FWD? Are you getting sick of hearing that? In this image you can see the front wheels of the Prelude cranked hard over to the left as Nathan tries to drag his car into the corner with initial understeer. (Understeer, Bad)
|Successfully pitched sideways, throttle closed, the Prelude
momentarily assumes an oversteering stance. (Oversteer, Good!)
If Nathan drives his car from here in the direction it's currently pointed, he should be able to cut inside and to the left of Jim's car as Jim drifts out of the corner.
|But, the moment he gets back on the throttle, the front-end of
Nathan's car washes out of the turn and the #35 Prelude is back to
its typical FWD power-on understeer. (Understeer, Bad. FWD, Yeuch)
Meanwhile, Diedrich demonstrates the only thing that FWD is really good for. He's got his car hooked up, jumps on the throttle, and his #27 Civic takes off in a straight line, streaming a contrail of snow, as though it was shot out of a cannon.
|On the straightaway there's not much Jim can do as the Prelude stretches its legs to pull ahead.|
|Here's where the RWD Chevettes really shine. I could watch
this over and over again.
It's not at all the same style as used by the FWD guys to abruptly throw their cars throttle-off into a corner, then come out plowing with massive throttle-on understeer.
Watch the video clip to see how smoothly Jim bends his car into this turn. Compare the line of travel shown by the arrow to how far sideways the car is and keep in mind that this is a fast third gear corner.
Jim's car just gradually pirouettes further and further sideways, smooth on the throttle, front wheels pointed predictably where he intends the car to go.
There's one tiny correction as Jim realises he's a bit closer to the apex than he needs to be. No drama. Just a small adjustment as his left front wheel slices a wafer off the snowbank at the apex.
|For a good line through this left/right kink, the transition is
critical. Just as smoothly as he did coming into the left-hand
corner, Jim straightens the car out and eases into the right-hander.
But most importantly, notice that now he's not sliding the car at all. Here he has his Chevette lined up pointing straight in the direction of travel so he can keep the rear tires planted for maximum grip to accelerate.
All that, and he hits the inside apex perfectly to hook up with the better traction available on the inside of the turn.
Smooth, smooth, smooth. That was pure art!
Watch the video clip again to compare what the Prelude does. Rather than straightening out to point down the straightaway, the Prelude turns sharp right (scrubbing off speed) in order to get all the way back to the right edge of the track. Who knows why? It's just another one of those inexplicable FWD tactics that make no sense to me.
|Due to Jim's perfect line through the Kink, and thus better exit
speed, he has no problem keeping up with the Prelude which should be a
much faster car on the straights.
I'm not just sucking up to Jim because I want him to invite me back next year (well okay, maybe I am a little bit), but his line through this corner really was brilliant.
I can claim it's only because I'm still a little rattled from my altercations with Diedrich. But I'm embarrassed to point out that my transition from the left turn to right turn in the Kink wasn't nearly as smooth as Jim's.
Because I turned too abruptly, it breaks the traction away on the rear wheels and I'm forced to let the car slide away to the left on the exit. Watch how this allows Jim to pull out a gap on me as he can get on the gas earlier to accelerate.
|I catch up to Jim again only because he's being held up by the #35 Prelude in the left corner at the end of the back straight.|
|Going into the second left turn, look at the difference in lines
being used by the RWD vs. FWD cars.
Jim and I both apex late and exit tight to the left.
The two FWD cars however each miss the apex completely. Diedrich #27 and Nathan #35 both understeer straight through the corner until they connect with the far snowbank.
Whatever turns your crank.
|Jim already has his car straightened out and is full on the
throttle gathering speed.
In contrast, the Prelude is busy dumping all its speed into the snowbank.
|We have a major conflict in lines occurring here.
Jim and I both want to follow the green arrow to where Diedrich is turning to the right into the Esses.
Nathan however is heading straight across the track, apparently bent on visiting the Marshalls in the flagging stand on the left.
From the position of his front wheels, one might mistakenly assume he's attempting to turn right. But as we've seen in several previous examples, there hardly ever appears to be any correlation between where the front wheels of a FWD car are pointed and where the car actually goes.
Jim is already taking evasive action to the left.
|After making the mistake of chucking all his speed into the snowbank,
Nathan is now intent on spearing across the track to prevent Jim from
passing him. Foot to the floor on the throttle, he is unable to
steer his car while the front wheels are spinning.
The Prelude swings WAY off-line to the left, herding Jim almost clear off the track.
|I don't need to deviate an inch from my intended line.
As the Prelude takes Jim out of the picture, I cruise through to pass them both.
That was a despicable piece of driving by Nathan. Jim was some pissed about that.
Ya, but it sure left a smile on my face!
|So, after stuffing my car into the snowbank, almost rolling over, and
being passed by two cars, I finish the lap right back where I started on
the tail of Diedrich's #27 Honda Civic.
That was one heck of a lap.