HINDMAN: Watkins Glen Debrief
While packing the race gear that I needed for the weekend, I did my usual last minute check of the weather to see if the forecasts had changed.
Nope. It still appeared to be a pretty nasty Fourth of July weekend… lots of rain everyday, even strong thunderstorms being predicted.
For most, that was the last piece of information they wanted, especially when heading to the racetrack for a weekend of competition. For me, however, it was exactly what I wanted to hear (aside from the prediction of thunderstorms, of course).
There are not many other things I enjoy more in this world than racing in the rain.
A situation that I used to loathe more than anything else, at some point in my karting career I found that if I ever wanted to become competitive and win races in adverse weather conditions, I must learn to love it, and I did.
So, what does any of that have to do with driving a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport GS in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, you may ask?
The possibility of a wet race gave me the utmost confidence that we had more than a solid shot at victory and a race where the Bodymotion Racing team, Cameron Cassels, and I could really do some damage in the GS championship and extend our points lead.
Unfortunately it didn’t all go down the way I had hoped, actually very much the opposite, but nonetheless it was still a positive event for us.
Working hard on our car all throughout practice and qualifying, I think it’s pretty fair to say that Cam and I were pleased with what we had underneath us.
Although we did not lead any practice session, we knew we were very strong in the areas that we could directly control, so you really cannot ask for much more than that.
Some minor set up changes had helped, but for the most part we rolled off the truck in fairly decent shape, which is always confidence inspiring, especially on these race weekends where you really do not have much time for tuning your equipment.
In one of the strangest qualifying sessions I’ve seen in quite some time with some ST cars that unfortunately found the infamous “blue bushes” on their in-laps along with a drying racetrack and a fundamental misunderstanding of the rule book by the GS field under red flag conditions, it had made the last ditch qualifying lap put in by Cameron just that much more important. We would roll off the grid in 10th for Saturday’s two hour race.
Seeing some of the intense rain storms just passing the Watkins Glen International circuit to the north and a steady line of dark clouds following, this is where I was really hoping that, for once, the Weather Channel was correct in their predictions for sustained rain.
Our race was off to a very clean start with Cam netting one or two extra positions at turn one and he was immediately taking off, trying to catch the next pack of cars ahead. Approaching the 45 minute mark, the rain started coming down. Hard.
I loved what I was seeing since I knew this was our legitimate shot at a victory. Unfortunately as soon as that storm had rolled in, it was right back out with only a stretch of cloudless blue sky following. Damn.
Whatever, I was still confident in the car that I had underneath me to be able to take advantage of the restart following a lengthy red flag for weather and push to the front, but that did not happen.
I found myself outgunned pretty quickly and all I could do was defend as hard as possible and minimize the loss of ground in the championship.
We finished P4; a gift if you ask me since our pace was not very close to that position. That one was hard fought to say the least, and with the efforts by Cam and the Bodymotion team, we head to CTMP with our GS championship lead in tact.
With some frustration following the CTSC race, I was forced to quickly let go of it and move on, as I had to be ready to fight for a victory in Lamborghini Super Trofeo race two with Riccardo Agostini and the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing team.
The pressure was on since Ricky put together one hell of a qualifying lap and put the No. 1 car on the pole! The guy went on to lead every single lap of his stint, without too much pressure from behind, and I was fortunate enough to hop in and do the very same.
For me, it came right down to the finish line but a win is a win and I sure was glad to be leaving my favorite track in the world on a high note.
Once again I thank the entire Bodymotion Racing team, Trim Tex, Prestige Performance, Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Squadra Corse, Cameron, and Ricky for making it possible for me to run, with success, in two very competitive championships.
I’m incredibly lucky to work with such phenomenal groups of people. CTMP is a little more relaxed in terms of scheduling but the intensity will very much be the same as Cam and I continue our fight for the GS championship.