Last week I took part in the EFRA 1/10 IC Championships for drivers over 40. My last EFRA race was already 10 years ago and I had been looking forward to this race all year.
I arrived at the track on tuesday afternoon and immediately felt the relaxed atmosphere. Lots of old friends I had not seen for years, and during the week I made quite a number of new ones. Fortunately I know the track quite well from previous years, and the recent resurfacing and upgrade work by hosting club RACO2000 has made the track fantastic to drive.
I had put the basic setup on my car that I normally use and the car was quite fast from the beginning. However I did have some issues with mid corner oversteer that needed fixing. During tuesday and wednesday I worked through some setup options to cure the instability. I used the optional pivot balls for the rear top link to find the best setting for the rear roll center, and tried different options for front springs and sway bars. In the end I settled on the hardest front sway bar combined with a high front roll center. This made the car really nice to drive. Just a little understeer on throttle but very safe and consistently quick.
I was top seed for qualifying and was poised to get two good runs on Thursday. Unfortunately in the first run the engine went rich and I only managed a 3rd place. In the second round I was well on course for a TQ run when the dundrivableriver let the car down and I dropped to second. A good nights sleep cured the driver issues and Friday I was able to use a perfect car and engine to win all three rounds and take the overall TQ spot. That unfortunately made me a spectator for the superpole shootout which I think is brilliant!
For the final practice we tested a small change to the exhaust setup to improve the fuel economy a bit and check tire wear. We thought we could just make it on one set, but the drawback would be a very uneven car at the end. We planned for three options: no change, change outside after 20 minutes, or run and have an emergency stop size tire ready if the car became too difficult at the end.
Although I knew I had the speed to win, a lot can happen in a 45 minute main. But with Stef Helvensteijn and Alex Thurston as pit crew you know that part is covered. I made a good start and after a few laps to get the nerves down I managed to pull a gap to Traugott Schär in second. After 15 minutes I felt the car get uneven and because we had the gap decided to change the outside tires at 20 minutes. That worked out excellent and we ran an almost perfect final. The engine and car worked like clockwork and the pit crew was spot on every stop.
What a week. Perfect organization, great atmosphere, clean racing, and good weather. And a title at the end! Michael winning 1/8th after a week with a lot of ups and downs was the icing on the cake! Thanks again to all who made this week possible.
Till next race