1 October 2009

Race Review - 2nd round of the Le Mans Classics Championships

A quite late race review since the race took place a week ago, but here is my review of the 2nd round of the Le Mans Classics Championship. Moving the "paddock" from the inaugural event at the GT Team track to the longer straights of the CSB track, organizers were again pleased with another "full house" - 18 drivers, with some of them being new to the series! Imagine if we got them all reunited!
You would have to return to the 60's or 70's to see a race like this!

Preparing cars for the CSB track was quite a challenge. My car was completely unstable on this track, although managing to be just shy on the pace of the fastest guys around. I did what I could to try to solve this, but despite my best efforts the P4 had a strange eagerness for jumping around the track! The only option was fitting the car with a bit more ballast at the front (5 g) and fitting a shorter-than-ideal gear ratio to better deal with the external lanes.

Although this track was not as dirty as GT Team was last week, I knew that I would have to qualify for the last heat, which would not be easy since many drivers made an amazing job in preparing their cars for the unique demands from this track. So, being the championship leader, at least I had the advantage of being the last one to qualify. I had seen some drivers scoring impressive laptimes, but other favourites had some issues, so I could have a shot at the 3rd heat. So, after a quite nervous and nail-bitting qualifying minute, I did good enough to see me sitting on 4th place overall, and the spot for the 3rd heat was taken. "Phew!" was the expression...
My P4 sitting 4th place on the grid (top) and me (2nd from right) bracing myself for the inevitable (below)

The 2nd heat saw some amazing performances, with 2 drivers scoring an impressive 182 laps total. That was my main objective so far, since I would not risk chasing the other guys from my heat - all I could do was keeping my car on track and hope for the best.

That was actually took place - a nerve-wrecking race indeed. A couple of consistent performances on the first two lanes was good enough for 5th and 30 laps scored on each was a good mark. But then came my worst lane, the fast "green". Can't really explain what happened here, but my car was very unstable - I had different response at the same sections from lap to lap! I guess I had 4 or 5 errors here, what cost my a full lap or even more. 30 laps scored again, but I needed a good mark here, so it was a poor result. The move to the tricky "white" lane saw me driving for the 1st time on the "tight" side of the "Big Bend", and my nerves got even more punished here. But it went down OK, scored a much needed 32 laps to make up the loss in the "green" one. Moving to the "black" lane, some issues appeared again, but the final mark of 30 laps again was somewhat positive, given the demands of this lane. Finishing on the fast "red" lane, I needed to score 30 laps to move ahead of the 2nd heat results, and eventually scored 31. The end of the race was very well received (and even needed for my fingers - fighting my car and my adrenaline at the same time is exhausting), but I could only finish 6th, 4 laps behind the winner. Still, my fastest laptimes are very close to the fastest guys on the middle lanes, but the outside lanes were horrible.

To my help, some of the drivers that fared less better on the 1st race were present on the podium, so that mixed up the standings a bit. I'm now 4 points behind the leader (who finished 2nd twice) and tied ex-aequo in 2nd place with 2 other drivers (including the winner from this round).

So, some homework left to do before the next round at this track, but now it's the GT Team's turn. I hope for a better showing here, but having to prepare new tires hurt a bit my aspirations. Let's wait and see...

Well, this is it for this review. I'll leave you with some more pictures from the event. See you all around soon...

The podium from the race - another Ferrari beating the GT40 and 917, this time the honours were taken by a Ferrari 512 on an all-Fly models podium

Here I am, controlling the race managing system... that didn't help me much on getting a better finish! :)

Looking at these great looking Codalungas, one has to believe we're looking by the rear-view mirror on the "Gulf" Porsche 917 of Steve McQueen on the "Le Mans" movie!


  1. Hi Hugo.

    Great race indeed! Congrats on your race. Although it isn't quite impressive as the first position on the first race, still is a good result. And today we will return to the GT Team track, so you can make a goo result again.

    Regarding Steve McQueen issue, weel, at som points in the race, actually was the Gulf that was apearing on the rear view mirror of may Coda Lunga! ;)

  2. Yes, now I remember... the 917 was having a hard time catching up with the Codalunga! :)

    But I just commented on the peculiar view of those two 512 Codalugas side by side, on that photo - I imagined that Steve might have seen the same when he was recording the scenes...