Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Season Wrap Up: Midwest TTC Champion

Since the double win and lap record at Gateway, I've completed four more NASA TT events: Autobahn South in April, Gingerman in June, Blackhawk Farms in July, and Autobahn South again earlier in September.

The Autobahn South event in April saw a tough duel at the top of the TTC boards between my AP1 S2000 and local Patrick Reyes' bright orange wrapped AP2 S2000.  On Saturday I managed to edge him out for the third consecutive win of the season with a time of 1:36.476, but on Sunday Pat put down an time I could not reach and had to settle for second.

Next, the schedule took us to Gingerman, a track I had never been to before.  Throughout the weekend, as I learned the track on old tires, I was consistently behind both Pat and John Eiler.  John's Lotus Elise, running a lightweight setup on street tires, had taken third both days at the Autobahn event, but never challenged for the lead.  However, I believe John used to work at Gingerman and his track knowledge had him battling back and forth with Pat all weekend at Gingerman.  Pat barely edged him out both days (about a tenth of a second) to take the wins and set a new track record.  To my credit, despite my struggles back in third place, I did manage to beat the old TTC track record, ending with a best lap time of 1:45.676.

In July, we raced another new track to me, Blackhawk Farms.  This time, things would go much better.  Running a new set of Hoosier R6s, I was able to beat John both days and set a new TTC track record of 1:18.431.  The narrow track through the woods seemed to flow well and suit the S2000.  This weekend also saw my debut of the new AiM SoloDL lap timer, whose continuously calculated predictive lap feature proved useful in judging my line around the new track.

With 8 events in the books, this put me in an advantageous spot in the points standings.  The season consists of 7 weekends for 14 events, with the best 10 events used for scoring.  So far I had accumulated 5 first place finishes, 1 second, and 2 thirds.  I had a decent lead over John in the Lotus and my most difficult competition, Pat, seemed to be falling short of events.  I skipped the next event at Road America, using 2 of my drops, but so did John and Pat.  This effectively knocked Pat out of the Championship, as 6 missed events (4 drops, but 2 events of 0 points) would be too large a hole to dig out of.

This gave me chance to secure the championship at the next event, back once again at Autobahn South.  Pat came back to defend his home track.

John was there as well, having changed his set up to upgrade to race tires at the cost of some added weight.

Another quick TTC competitor I knew well from the Great Lakes region, Kyle Brewer, brought his Toyota Supra.

Running on a set of used R6s, I couldn't quite catch Pat all weekend and he finished 2 tenths ahead of me on Saturday and 4 tenths on Sunday, my best time for the weekend coming in at 1:35.666 on Saturday (video below).  Sunday morning looked ripe for some fast times, but a busy event meant yellow flags and traffic limited the opportunities.



Critically, however, I kept a consistent gap over John.  Kyle even inserted himself between us, awarding John 3rd and 4th compared to my double 2nd places.  With only one event left on the schedule, this mathematically secured me the championship!  This will be my third season championship in the Midwest region (2008 and 2010) in addition to my 2011 Great Lakes championship.