Last weekend marked the beginning of our first full season with the Acura RSX-S. Unfortunately, mechanical failures plagued our first year and a half with the car so we had only made it to two race weekends with the car.
Though I was excited to begin the race season and get back behind the wheel, the first race event ended up being one of those worst-case scenario weekends. I was going to be driving at a brand new track I’d never been to, that was famous for having rock walls on one side and cliffs on the other – meaning run-off room is minimal. On top of that, the forecast called for rain all day on Friday and showers throughout the weekend.
The test day started off pretty well. Only about 10-12 other cars had braved the weather for the test day so there was plenty of open track all day. I started to get more comfortable with Palmer… other than the few places where rivers were running across the track. The straight was especially nerve wracking with the car floating around at 100+ miles an hour. Luckily we planned ahead and ordered a set of new Hoosier H20’s once the forecast started looking iffy. Between those and the G-Loc brakes, the car had some serious grip in the braking zones. Unfortunately, even with good brakes and tires, there isn’t much you can do when trying to brake on standing water and a small mistake in Turn 5 ended up with me testing the tire wall for the first time of the weekend (more to come on that later). Luckily the damage was minimal.
Still I was glad to have had the practice in the rain, considering the forecast for Saturday looked marginally better. The rain practice paid off and we ended up P1 in the morning’s qualifying session. The radar suddenly cleared in the afternoon meaning a quick switch to dry tires. Having to relearn the track in the dry caused me to fall back in the beginning of the race. Once I got comfortable I managed to catch up to the lead car and we had a good battle.
Last ditch effort to get by on the final lap of Race 1
As I got more comfortable with the track, I was able to keep on dropping my lap times and I ended up with two 2nd place finishes in the first two races. Not bad for our first time at the track!
Unfortunately, we didn’t fare as well the last race of the afternoon on Sunday. A strong start at the green meant that I was holding close to the Corvette Z06 in front of me in turn 1… which just happened to choose that time to blow up its engine in a massive spray of oil and smoke. I hit both with my car and – with no visibility or traction – ended up heading straight off the track into the tire wall.
Though it wasn’t the way we wanted to end the weekend, we were happy with the competitiveness of the car. Still I know there’s a lot more time to be found there, and I’m looking forward to going back to prove it in September!