|We're approaching the kink on the back straight and up ahead Ken
Staples is dicing with Hiroki Currie. You can't see him in this
shot, but Craig Assenheimer is in that pack as well.
It's a little difficult to see on the video because of the blowing snow, but watch how Ken slices his way past both these guys in this sequence.
|Run the video clip several times, watching each car in turn, to
compare the three different lines taken by these three guys through the
In the red #77 Chevette, Craig takes pretty much the same line as I do.
Hiroki stays true to his preferred line and runs the same exaggerated "S" as before.
However, watch how Ken Staples in the yellow Nissan does something completely different than any of us.
|Ken runs all the way around the far outside of this turn to get
around Hiroki, before angling back over to the centre of the track on the exit.
Hiroki swings right as usual, seemingly inviting Craig to stick his nose in there, before cutting back to the left.
Craig looks a bit confused by Hiroki's unconventional line and first zigs right, then zags left, then has to back off altogether to avoid hitting the silver Festiva.
|And that's when I run up against the back of Craig's car.
I'm not sure whether Craig is going to go left or right from here, so I lose a lot of momentum while waiting for him to make up his mind.
|Had I been able to carry my momentum through the S-bend, I would
have been able to sweep past Craig here. But all I can manage for
now is to get up alongside him.
Keep in mind that Craig is about to be lapped for the third time, having spent the first couple of laps stuck on the far side of a snowbank. I was rather hoping he'd back off a bit to let me pass easily here.
|Maybe he thought I would carry on around the outside of him in this
hairpin, but I'm very reluctant to try that with rookies.
It's simply a question of trust, and I don't know Craig well enough yet to try running outside of him in a corner. I'd feel much safer staying to the inside.
|Apparently Craig feels exactly the same way about me, because he's not about to let me go by on the inside of this corner.|
|On the exit of the second left, Craig makes a small error in letting his car get too far sideways. I keep my rear tires hooked up with traction and thus can start accelerating earlier. This allows to me to pull up alongside him again.|
|I feel much more confident running tight beside Craig on this turn
because there's lots of room available to my left should I need to take
any evasive action, and it leaves me positioned on the inside for the
upcoming left turn.
Unlike when running close to a FWD car, I can predict with confidence where Craig is going to go. I can see where his front wheels are pointing, and I can hear his engine revs. Since we're running identical cars, I can feel what Craig is doing beside me at the wheel of his car. I have no problem running door handle to door handle with him here.
I'm really hoping Craig will back off now, and let me through.
|But on this left turn before the finish line, I'm on the slippery icy portion of the track. If I keep on the throttle, I cannot guarantee that I won't slide away to the right and hit Craig, who still hasn't backed off and is tight beside me on the right.|
|I could have tried staying beside Craig around this next turn as
well. But this one is already very slippery.
If I mess up here it would affect my speed all the way down the next long straight. It's safer to back off instead, let him go, then wait for a better opportunity.
|And there's the next opportunity already.
Craig gets too far sideways again on the exit of this turn. As this leads onto the long straight, it's really critical to get a smooth exit here. Craig is scrubbing off speed rather than accelerating cleanly onto the straight.
Now it's a just a question of whether I should head left or right of him.
|After a brief hesistation, I commit to going right.
I would have needed to scrub off too much speed to pull left of Craig. Going to the right works out better for me as it allows me to conserve most of my momentum.
|If it had been anybody else racing against me at this point, I would
have turned across in front of him now to take my regular line into the
But, regardless of the fact that I'm three laps ahead of him, Craig is not about to surrender yet.
|I've seen this move pulled by rookies all too often. It's easy
to get suckered into believing you can outbrake somebody down the inside
into the hairpin, only to discover too late that there's no traction
available for braking here.
I can see this one coming, so I make sure to leave Craig plenty of room...
|... as he goes sliding past my nose and runs wide.
He would have hit me for sure, had I turned in earlier.
|Craig exits the scene, stage right, while I nip past him on the inside.|
|Now, I need to get back in touch with those two ahead of me.