2000 Peru ProSolo

(As originally posted to the Talon Digest)

This past weekend, we did the Peru ProSolo in Peru, IN.

We arrived in Peru on Thursday evening, in the middle of crappy weather - cold, drizzle, and occasional rain. We got some testing in on the new turbo, and were able to set the AFC and boost controller. Tires, however, were posing a problem.

We had a choice to make: we had a set of very well worn Kumho 255 40R17s mounted on our race wheels. They had no tread to speak of and they had an unknown number of runs left in them. Set for arrival Friday was a set of brand spankin' new Kumho 275 40R17s - full tread, lots of future life, and the known Kumho property of being very slippery for the first couple of events. Given how poor the weather looked (and about how poor the extended forecast looked) we elected to mount the new tires. If it rained, we'd be laughing, and the initial slipperiness could be lived with. On the other hand, if we started with the 255s, we'd probably be a little better off in the dry, but if it got even a little bit wet, we'd be screwed.

Friday evening rolled around, but it was raining lightly. There didn't seem to be much point in running practice starts with the start line under water, so we snuck off to a back corner of the paddock, and ran in circles for a few minutes to try and scuff the tires and maybe get a heat cycle into them. After enough full-lock circles to make me seriously dizzy, the pyrometer read 10 degrees above ambient. Bah.

The course was very technical - a long initial straight that fed into a tight 4-cone slalom, that led to a fast Chicago box into a medium-tight 180 (off camber at the exit) to a series of straights joined by tight 90s with pinched-off exits. Lots and lots of potential for some serious coneage, and several places where being a couple of inches off line would land you in jail.

Saturday was cold and overcast, but dry. Good intercooler weather, crappy tire weather. Up against me was Kent Rafferty in his Supra TT, Karl Witt and his girlfriend Jocelyn in their Camaro, Todd Lenser in his Talon (who some of you may know from Shootout AutoX 99) and Jamey Abersold in the world's nastiest Supra TT, the car that moved the Supras into BSP. There was also a Starion signed up, but he ran into engine trouble before the start, and he withdrew. All in all, a good showing, with some real talent and a couple of seriously fast cars.

ESP looked like DSM Old Home Week, with Brian, Fedja, and Eric all coming out to play.

My first couple of runs showed that brand new, cold Kumhos are indeed very, very slippery. I slipped and slithered all over the place, but by some miracle I kept out of the cones. The runs were a little slower than I'd've liked, but given all the times the car got bent out of shape, that wasn't surprising. The power, however, was Mother of Moicy! The new Forced Performance T28/28 lived up to its design specs, and was spooling way fast and making big, big power. On my last run of the first session, I stopped trying to get the car to stick in the corners, slowed down the corner entries, and let the power pull me out. Brake, turn, squirt. Brake, turn, squirt. Hardly good form, but it sufficed to get a decent time down - a 36.9. This, plus my lack of cones where everyone else in the class was mowing them over, put me in first place after the first heat by a little under 2 seconds.

The second heat was even colder, and while the tires were getting noticeably better with each run, they were still pretty dammed slick. I pulled some time out of the right course, bringing it down to a 37.3, but made no progress on the left. Kent and Karl, however, cleaned up their acts somewhat, and at the end of the second heat my lead had shrunk to .17 seconds. Even so, it's the end of the day, and we're leading! That's a first!

That night, I went over the data, and found two places where a change in technique could make up some big time. And with Kent, Karl, and Jamey all gunning for me, I knew I'd need it. If I didn't improve, odds are I'd get caught.

Sunday morning was a little warmer, and that plus the heat cycle in the tires meant the tires were finally starting to come to me. I applied what we learned from the data, and put down a 36.4 on the left and a 36.8 on the right. Much better! However, I got cones on both runs, so no real help. The last two runs, I absolutely nailed the front side section, but made mistakes on the way back (tough course!) that negated the improvement. I wound up standing on a 36.9 and a 37.3.

Karl didn't get any faster. Jamey put down a 36.6 on one side, then redlighted the other. Kent put down a 36.8, and then spotted a downed cone on the track and got a rerun. And with that last run, with me still hanging on to the lead with my fingernails, he pulled off a 36.5 to take the win.

So we wound up second -which is not bad. Our fantastic season continues. We're now 4th in points in the overall National standings, and if we can win next weekend in Virginia (with our now heat-cycled tires) we'll be tied for first with Kent.

The T28/28 delivered in spades. There were a couple of little spots in the slow stuff that were still a touch laggier than we'd like, but they could be driven around to a certain extent by taking a different line. In the midrange, the car is an absolute beast.

The car launches so well, and was moving so fast, and the tires were greasy enough, that I was having trouble getting the car into the slalom at the end of the first straight cleanly. Accordingly, I had to overbrake in order to get the car through the slalom. On one run, I had 3 car lengths on Kent's Supra going into the slalom, but my heavy braking evened us up by the time we got through it. However, once through the slalom, I was pulling him on raw power through the box and beating him to the 180. Whooohoo!

I don't know if the t28/28 is the "ultimate" autox turbo yet, but it is very, very good. It beats the 14B hands down cold. I gotta put a 1/4 mile time on this car, and see what it's running!

Next weekend is the Virginia Pro, and I think we're in pretty good shape. Thanks to Buschur Racing, RM Racing, and especially Forced Performance for their continued support.