Round 4 Recap: Gingerman

Posted: June 15, 2011 in Racing

UPDATE – Figuring out a new way to edit and load video.  My current solution is still ongoing – found a good program but now my laptop is too ancient to work correctly.  Thus, I will load video in the next week or so.

Gingerman marked the first DRY race weekend we’ve had all year (at least as far as the 944-Spec crew is concerned as we did not go to Brainerd with the exception of Ken Frey).  The weekend started out with warmer than expected weather.

Friday

On Friday, Gingerman was open for a test and tune day.  Which was great as I’ve never driven Gingerman, so I wanted to get some laps in the book before the race weekend.  Before the event I watched many varying videos of Gingerman of drivers of varying skill.  The track overall reminds me of a local favorite of mine called Hallet.  Like Hallet, Gingerman is a highly technical track with some corners with blind apex / track out corners.  In addition the track is quite bumpy with variations in these bumps and their intervals just being a couple feet off line, thus leading to the need to hit your marks every time.  Because of these issues, a varying line through corners works better for different cars, thus making it a challenge to drive off your normal line when racing.  Though, unlike Hallet the corners do not flow well making it difficult to learn the fastest way through them.

Lisa was also transformed this weekend.  At Putnam my engine finally succumbed to a wiring issue hidden in the ECU harness under some of the sound deadening.  This lead to the revving problem – run rich at low RPMs and lean at high RPMs.  This helped exacerbate what was a tired engine by allowing it to leak past the rings and the valves in the head on all 4 cylinders.  With these issues, I was probably running about 105-110 whp where average engines ran 125+ whp.  So it now all made sense, as at Round 1 in the dry at Autobahn I was not sure why I could not catch a car on the straight where I got a better exit than them.

Back to Lisa.  Nick from Bennington Motorsports did not have the time to rebuild my engine so to get me up and running quickly he put in his spare motor in my car.  I cannot state how great this engine is and how much power it had as it transformed Lisa from a good handling car into one that would fly down the straights (laughable at how much 20-30 hp means to us racers).  I was also able to finally feel what driving a car with the 80% lockup 944 factory LSD was like.  Porsche had some secrets up its sleeves that were not common options to us folks stateside.  It seems Porsche installed two different LSDs in the n/a 944 (and turbo’ too).  The normal US and ROW spec (code 220) 40% locking LSD – which was an Audi sourced unit that Porsche had for the 944 / 924s.  However Porsche motorsports had an option code 221 (which was very, very rare in the US – not even published on the option code list for the 944 at least in the US.  Instead, Porsche took the Audi based LSD and specially modified the differential housing into an oval shape to allow more passage of oil into it – where Porsche then packed in more LSD plates to provide up to 80% lockup.  To prove that it does indeed exist, Nick spent months tracking down information in German – inspected a 40% lockup and an 80% lockup transmission, even finding one imported club racer 944 from Germany which had the 221 option code on it and the 80% lockup differential in the transmission.  The only way to tell is to test the LSD or open up the differential housing as they did stamp it on the inside.   Those cheeky Germans!

Saturday

As the 944 compound was convening to discuss pre-qualifying details, mother nature decided to pull up and lift the big 944 tent, where she then proceeded to throw it at the 944 gang where Ray Freundt’s brand new diesel truck valiantly took the brunt of the hit / stabbing – rather than me as I was closest to the carnage.  This may have been an omen of things to come.

Qualifying:

Qualifying went will with the 944-Spec field out running almost the entire Spec Miata field.  Unfortunately, Sid Chhikara on a hot lap in qualifying entered turn 5 which was in a complete cloud of dust, slowed yet still ran into a spun Miata that caused the dust.

Race 1: (voice will be different as I’m taking excerpt from press release as I helped write it this time)

Neal Agran started on pole with Joel Karns on the outside (his first ever front row start), followed by Freundt, Angel Blazquez, Dan Pina, Sam Grant, and Chhikara.  This race promised to be a corker, with Karns, Freundt, and Blazquez all qualifying within 3/10 of a second of each other and Pina and Grant only a few tenths further back.

Agran was able to maintain the lead in the first three turns and build a gap as the fight for second intensified.  Karns off to a good start stayed in second place until he spun in turn 5, which took him from second to the back of the pack.  Pina inherited second and Freundt and Blazquez in hot pursuit.  The following 30 minutes were a bumper to bumper thrill show, with Freundt eventually getting past Pina in turn 2 and Blazquez benefiting from an off track excursion by Pina in turn 3.

To be loaded later: My Spin in Turn 5 with bad camera (focused too far ahead)

Karns and Pina battled for several laps with Karns passing Pina in turn 11 but then immediately came upon an out of class car which balked both Karns and Pina in Turn 1 / 2 complex with both coming together and spinning.  Pina was able to get back on track faster but Karns chased again and on the last lap in the last turn Pina lost 4th place to Karns by 0.4 seconds as he lifted as a gesture of good nature due to the previous contact.  Chhikara followed close behind, with Grant retiring 3 laps in with a slipping clutch.  The winners were Agran, Freundt, and Blazquez who took the podium spots.

Sunday

Race 2:

Agran again started on pole, followed by Freundt, Blazquez, Karns, Pina, and Chhikara.  Once again the spread in lap times was impressively close.  Agran was beaten to turn 1 by Freundt, after which Freundt, Agran, and Blazquez broke away into a tight pack.  Blazquez was able to capitalize on a mistake by Agran in turn 3, assuming second position directly behind Freundt.  Unfortunately for Blasquez his transmission failed in turn 8 leading to a high speed off track exit (using part of old turn 10) which he quickly controlled, leaving Agran to keep Freundt on a very short leash.

Immediately behind Karns and Pina diced for several laps with Karns making a successful pass in Turn 3 which he never relinquished.  After 25 minutes of nose to tail dicing, Freundt held his lead to the flag with Agran crossing the line on his back bumper.  Karns crossed the line in 3rd only 8 seconds back, with Pina and Chhikara rounding out the field.

To be loaded later: Race 2 video (front & back)

Race 3:

The final race of the weekend featured a standing start.  The grid was determined by fastest lap in race 2, putting Agran on the pole, followed by Freundt, Karns, Pina, and Chhikara.  Agran fell to third by turn 2, with Freundt and Pina assuming first and second from the outside.  Chhikara got a great run on Karns into turn 1 but was unable to finish a pass on the outside and spun.  Agran’s problems compounded when he reprised Karns’ performance in race 1 with an off track excursion on the outside of turn 5.

Freundt and Pina went on to delight the crowd with a close race, with Freundt coming out the victor by a 2 second margin.  Karns followed in third, with Agran and Chhikara coming close behind.

To be loaded later: Race 3 Video (front & back)

Recap

I’m quite happy this weekend as podium twice in a 3 race event.  My Dad also picked me up from the airport and drove out with me for the event (though he did book us a room with a single king sized bed).  Talk about being spoiled!

The carnage:

  • The tent’s attack on Ray’s truck
  • Sid’s contact with Miata (bent the passenger front control arm)
  • Ray & Dan’s contact (a little bit of bodywork)
  • Dan & Joel’s contact (a little bit of bodywork – more on Dan’s car though)
  • Neal & Ray’s contact (no bodywork)
  • Sam’s muffler, slipping clutch & tired engine
  • Angel’s transmission (his off was quite glorious!)
  • Yuliang’s headgasket (Yuliang got it fixed in 4 hours and was able to drive home with no issues!)
  • Neal’s engine (I fear we are in trouble for the next race as Neal is fast with a bad engine…now what?)
  • My inability to video races 1 & 2 properly
  • Nick’s radiator on the van blew on way home
  • During race 3 a Miata lost its wheel too: http://youtu.be/NWvqu3askGs

Round 5: Autobahn

The 944-Spec Midwest’s next event is July 8 Enduro with July 9/10 race weekend at Autobahn Country Club.

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