|Just like last year, the head of the single file starting grid is
formed up by inverting the top six cars according to the season's
championship points so far. The points leader has to start from
down in 6th place, 2nd place from the 5th slot, and so on.
Don Pohl is 6th in the points going into this weekend, so he gets to start right up front. Jim Graham, whose car I'm driving, is 5th in the standings, so I get to take his place up here in 2nd spot on the grid.
I like this system!
The green flag flies, and we're off.
|Ack. What a lousy start.
At first no grip at all, then suddenly way more grip than I was expecting.
And I missed the shift from 1st to 2nd gear.
Don pulls out a comfortable lead, while I'm lucky I haven't been passed by several cars already.
|Down the front straight, there's a lot of good traction here and I've
got things back under control now. I may even be gaining a bit of
ground back on Don.
I'm really not sure how close the others are following behind me. It's kind of hard to see any of that without a rearview mirror, eh.
|Turning into the hairpin, Don overshoots the corner by a fair bit
and runs too deep. I feel a little bit sorry for him (actually not)
because it's very easy to make this mistake.
Because the Chevette Class gets no warmup lap following the Studded Class race, we have no idea how much traction to expect going into this turn for the first time. The leader pretty much needs to gamble on finding the correct entry speed all on his own, while everyone else from there back keys off of him.
I almost follow Don too deep past the corner, but still find enough traction to drag the car back to a very wide entry. If anyone behind me had been close enough, they would surely have taken this opportunity to dive inside and steal the corner from me.
|The wide approach into the hairpin gives me a nice late apex through
the hairpin, which translates into better exit speed onto the following straight.
Just like that, I'm in the lead!
Ya baby! I'm good!
|Except, with the better speed coming onto the straight I now arrive
at the following kink carrying too much speed, and I do the exact same
thing that Don just did in the previous turn.
I'm going too fast, brake too late, and run wide. Instead of staying on the clean tractionised surface along the inside snowbank, I stupidly let the car drift wide into the deeper snow that's piled up offline.
|And instantly Kevin Sakaluk takes advantage of my mistake to jump into the lead.
Flustered by this turn of events, I then do something even more stupid and miss another gear shift. You can hear it clearly on the video clip as I twice try to shift up from 2nd to 3rd gear before finally finding 5th instead.
|While I'm still fumbling for gears, Kevin rockets past me as though I was standing still.
Oh well. Give it up. By then it's already time to shift back down to 2nd gear again anyway...
|Still distracted by all my frantic gearbox rowing,
and blinded by the snow kicked up by Kevin's car, I run wide in this
Jeez, I should have been tight against that snowbank over there on the right so I can get a good run through the upcoming left turn. This sucks.
|Time to take a deep breath here.
By some miracle you're still in 2nd place, Ferdinand. Get a grip before you throw that away too!
|After the back hairpin, I'm actually still in pretty good shape.
Nobody else has taken a stab at passing me yet, and Kevin isn't galloping away from me either.
Let's just settle down here and see what develops.
|Then THIS develops!
I really HATE driving blind like this.
If I hadn't been so stupid and made a couple of small errors (okay, so it was really a series of big stupid errors, but who's counting, eh?), I could still have been up front right now enjoying a clear view.
|Here's something interesting.
My first flying lap in the morning practice session took 1 minute and 42 seconds, but that lap was a huge mess. I didn't feel satisfied until the 4th flying lap of practice which, although it felt much better, was actually 3 seconds slower at 1:45.
So now we're just coming up to finish the first lap of Chevette Race #1, a particularly untidy lap filled with numerous big mistakes, from a complete standing start mind you, and still the lap is run in a time of 1:43.
It's pretty obvious that my driving hasn't improved any. The quick lap time is just an indication of how drastically the level of grip changes after the Studded Class vehicles have finished chewing up the track surface before we get to run on it again.