2002 Western Canadian Ice-Race Championship

Chevette Race #3

(Not a Bad Start, But Not Good Either.)

Sunday, March 3, 2002

After yesterday's two Chevette Races, the weekend's points standings in the Chevette Class have me in the lead followed closely by Landon Goudreau, Kevin Sakaluk, and Jim Graham.

Sunday's first (of two) Chevette Races is gridded according to our finish order in the previous race which saw Landon win, Kevin second, me third, Jim fourth, Trent Hamp fifth, and Chris Brandt sixth.

As usual the top six positions are inverted in a single-file standing start putting Chris on pole, Trent second, Jim third, me fourth on the grid, with Kevin and Landon behind me, followed by ten other Chevettes in this sixteen car field.

My strategy for this race is simple.  Landon is the one I have to beat.  I must keep Landon behind me at all costs.

Naturally, my strategy goes right into the toilet in the very first corner...

  #16 #15 #14 #13 #12 #11 #10 #9 #8 #7 #6 #2 #1 #5 #4 #3
Track Layout Track Layout
Track Layout
Track Layout

Back to Map 01 I blew it right here at the start.  In the video, watch the tachometer needle, the big dial of the three gauges on the dash.

The flagman walks out of the picture to the left, climbs the snowbank, drops the yellow flag, waves the green, and we're off.

In anticipation I bring the engine revs up only just a bit above idle.  It's vital to keep the rear wheels hooked up with traction on launch.

But when the flag drops I squeeze the throttle a touch too far, the revs jump by a couple hundred rpm as the rear wheels break loose, and I need to back off for a brief moment to let the wheels regain traction before the car finally moves off the line.

It wasn't a big mistake, but it was a mistake nonetheless.

Back to Map 02 It doesn't look as though I've lost any ground to the cars ahead.  Of greater concern to me is the fact that Kevin and Landon behind me, as usual, both made perfect starts and they're now splitting left and right to pull alongside me.

Kevin eases up the left side, and Landon is tight on my right.  There's nothing I can do about it because I'm completely boxed in.

Back to Map 03 I cannot prevent Kevin from taking the position from me, so I slide in behind him to make sure no one else tries to squeeze down the inside into the hairpin.

Landon is still tight alongside my right door.  But I have the inside line for the upcoming left turn, which will leave Landon stranded on the outside.

Back to Map 04 But Landon won't give up.  That guy has enormous confidence!

I was certain he would back off, or be forced to swing wide.  Instead, he's squeezing me tight from the outside.

With this move, I'm flattered to note, Landon is paying me a huge compliment.  He's taking a significant risk in trusting me not to hit him.  We're both right at the very limit of traction here.  It would take only a small nudge from me to send him sliding off to the right.

But I can't do that.  There's some deep psychology going on here.

Back to Map 05 I probably shouldn't admit to such a weakness (certainly not in public like this), but it is important to me that these guys, who I race with only one weekend each year, learn to respect me and come to trust my driving.  And here, Landon has done just that.  He's made a risky passing move on me and in the process shown that he trusts me not to hit him.  As a result it's even more important to me now that I don't accidentally hit him and betray that trust.

Michael Schumacher would simply nerf him into the weeds to teach him a lesson.  But it was my own mistake on the start that allowed Landon to get alongside me in the first place.  Effectively, I've already handed him the position with that mistake.  It would be wrong to try to cover my mistake by weaving and blocking now, or much worse deliberately hitting anyone.  There's no glory in winning like that.

I don't want to make another mistake now, so I stay off the accelerator for a bit longer to ensure my car won't step out of line and tap Landon's car as he eases past me.

Back to Map 06 At the end of the short straight, turning left into the Kink, Landon pulls the same move on Kevin Sakaluk.

He passes him on the outside into the Kink!

I'm thinking, that's it.  It's over.  There's no way I'll ever catch Landon again.

    Landon is a racing God.

Back to Map 07 Had Landon been running clear of traffic from there on, I'm sure he would have left us all in the dust.

But up ahead, Jim Graham has just passed the Silver #81 car of Trent Hamp.  Trent had to slow up, Landon has to back off, and Kevin immediately pounces on Landon.

Back to Map 08 Kevin manages to get far enough alongside that Landon is forced off line and the two of them run side-by-side for the next couple of corners.

Back to Map 09 It's a real treat following this action from my point of view.  Watch how careful they both are to leave each other racing room.

There's ample opportunity for pushing and shoving or bashing and crashing while sliding side-by-side on ice.  Yet they both manage to leave enough space for each other and they never touch while jockeying for position.

That's good racing!

Back to Map 10 Finally Kevin gains the upper hand coming through the Esses and Landon is forced to concede the position.

Because neither of them was able to run the optimum fast line through these corners, it's allowed me to close right up again on the back of Landon's car.

Good!  I still have a chance.

Back to Map 11 Crossing the finish line at the end of the first lap, the hard charging trio ahead of me slides wide on the exit of the right turn.

I'm trying to hook the inside so I can exit tighter to the right in order to set up a better line for the left hander leading onto the next straight.

Back to Map 12 But it's darn slippery in this corner and I drift wide to the left, just like the other guys did.

All except for Landon #31, of course.  He manages to get his car over to the right, from where he's better able to choose his options for the all-important left turn onto the long straight.

Kevin #24 has made an aborted attempt to pass Trent #81.  That's going to cost him because Kevin is now approaching the left hander from much too tight on the left.  He's going to drift wide to the right on the exit, and Landon knows it.

Back to Map 13 Sure enough, Kevin runs wide and Landon heads to the left to get back alongside Kevin on the run onto the straightaway.
Back to Map 14 Fascinated by the action ahead of me, I'm not paying enough attention to my own lines.

I almost catch that damn snowbank on the exit again.

Back to Map 15 In desperation I pitch the car sideways to keep it away from the snowbank.

That was close.

But it didn't help my speed onto the straight at all.

Back to Map 16 I lost some ground there.  But as long as Landon and Kevin are running side-by-side and distracting each other, I should be able to catch up again.
Chevette Race 3 (Start) - ASF format
Chevette Race 3 (Start) - MPG format
Not a Bad Start, But Not Good Either.

Next, Trying to Pass Landon.

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