Hello Speedhunters! My name is Patrick Soderlund and I recently trekked out to the UAE to race in the Dubai 24Hs. We finished the race last year in fifth and came to the event with the goal of a podium finish. The competition for the 2010 edition of the race was tougher than last year, so we knew only a trouble free run would get us this result.
Before a race, I like to sit in the car make sure the cockpit is working. In this shot I'm testing the new drinking system we had just installed in the car.
I bought two kick ass HD cameras for in car footage. I'm setting one of them up here.
We also needed to make sure the seating position works for all four drivers.
This is where the team plans the driver stint schedule. It looks great on paper, but never ends up like we plan.
First practice session. We were testing a new suspension system from Swedish company Öhlins as well as a new tire manufacturer (Dunlop). It took all day to get the tires and car to perform as we wanted.
This is right after we adjusted the wing to give less down force. Notice how “straight” the rear wing is positioned. This gives less down force in the rear allowing the car to get better grip in the front and go faster on the straights. So little rear wing angle will make the car oversteer and drift a lot. It turns out most of the Porsche teams reported issues with under steering but the rear wing fix is what ultimately cured ours.
Magnus is one of four drivers in Team Need for Speed – Dubai. He and I are discussing the conditions of the track as well as car handling. I look pissed off!
In this shot, Robert is practicing replacing the brakes. We have to put new brake pads on the car after 12 hours so we wanted to make sure we could do the swap in record time. The pit team figured it is faster to change the whole caliper instead of just the pads. After some practice we were able to have all four replaced in 2 mins 20 sec. Pretty impressive!
You can also see the Öhlins suspension in this pic.
Here all four drivers are going over in car video footage on my laptop. This helps with track knowledge and communication around racing lines.
Second practice session: Johan Sturesson behind the wheel. Johan is a professional driver who brings a lot to the team. He's fast and reliable.
He was the driver tasked with setting the car up with the pit team.
Örjan (yeah, I know weird name) is checking the temp of the tarmac. We need to know this in order to plan how to set the tire pressure of the tires.
Now we are getting there. The car is much faster and the tires are holding well.
The start of the qualifying session: We did ok, but not great. Many cars were within the same second however. Still, we were over a second faster than last year.
Getting ready to drive. Last time I raced was over 3 months ago so I'm feeling a little tense here. It doesn't help that Rod was following me around the whole time!
Fully geared up. Night time driving is something I usually like a lot as I'm often quick in the dark. This would end up being one of my worst sessions however. I was off pace by way too much and feeling lost out there. Perhaps it was a mistake that my first taste of the Dubai track was during the night as I had a bit of trouble getting into a rhythm and finding my braking points.
This photo tells the story of how I felt out there.
Start of the race. The Dubai 24H has really become one of the big long distance races to win. It boasts over 75 cars on the grid. Massive!!!
Here I'm watching the start with Miki Taka. The noise and sound was just awesome.
Hubert (The 4th driver) got off to a great start. Our strategy was to let the tires slowly heat up so they could last longer. After 3 laps we could go 100%. We overtook at least 6 cars in the opening stint of the race.
Lap 3 was 2.11.9, Lap four ended up being a 2.09.2, which is very respectable race pace. iPhone FTW!!
The car is a beauty and a joy to drive. The funny looking exhaust is due to making too much noise during qualification.
This is on the back straight. Top speed is just north of 250km/h before you brake.
NO 2…At this time in the race (90 mins in) our strategy was working well. The faster cars consumed more fuel and had to pit more often. Running long stints (1.45H to 1.50H) was the only way we could win. However after 1h and 45 mins the car stopped without any warning on the back straight. Out of fuel.
Normally we get a warning in the car and then switch to reserve. This time we got no warning and the reserve did not work. We had to be towed in.
The race starts at 2pm and by 6pm it is pitch black in Dubai. So you are quickly driving in the dark.
Later in the night. We had a consistent good pace in the dark. We Swedes are so used driving in the dark that we are actually almost always faster than the competiion during the night stints!
12 hours in. I am just getting out of the car. Johan is getting in after me and we're also changing brakes. The team did a perfect job and at 2am in the morning no less!
Here I'm thinking about my stint, just after getting out of the car. I was feeling pleased at this point. I had good pace over the course of a long (1h 37 mins) drive.
T means that we are in the fueling area. O means that car is on an outing lap. Green means all is well and car is racing. 5th means we are not pushing hard enough.
One of the two refueling guys taking a nap. The beds were exactly as bad as they looked.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It looks like the back straight. Both photographers are true pros. I am deeply impressed.
Our hotel room at the track. The night was very cold… Much colder than you think.
I woke up to the noise of banging and bad words yelled in Swedish at 6am. One of the drivers were involved in a crash. Both sides of the car needed attention forcing us to spent a good 30 mins in the pit. The mechanics are ace however. Their intensity and level of focus is impressive. The car was quite badly messed up so it was impossible for the team to fix all the damage. We would have to nurse the car for the remaining 8 hours.
Another unplanned pitstop after a light contact for one of the drivers. This time we got away with only a damaged tyre.
It's getting light again. The car is showing strong signs of the night time battles.
Dawn. This is a really dangerous part of the race. Many drivers are dead tired but feel good to have survived the night. They relax and sometimes lose concentration.
So around this time, crashes are very common. We managed to stay out of trouble however.
Our lovely 5 star hotel room. This is where I was lucky enough to spend a few hours sleeping.
I just woke up as you can tell. Someone told me I need to be in the car in 20 mins. Hmmm.
Coffee and sugar helps you stay alert. Unfortunately the coffee was of the instant variety.
Morning and a very typical image of the race. With so many cars on the grid and so many different types of cars, you are constantly lapping someone. Behind our Porsche is an Aston Martin Vantage and behind that a Renault Clio. Both were just overtaken.
This will make me look like a whimp. Blisters are very common when you drive for 5 to 6 hours during 24.
Ready for my last stint. I always try and visualize the stint in my head before going out.
I am getting in the car and as you can see, it's pretty banged up.
This photo was probably taken just after or before I
went out for my last stint. The guys sleeping are the fuels boys. When
I drove into to the refueling area I was very alone. They were sleeping
as you can tell.
Rod shot this photo just as I was driving into the refueling area only to find no-one to fill my tank. So I made a quick decision to go out on the track for 1 or 2 laps while they were waking up.
This is a painful mistake which frankly cannot happen if you expect to win races.
This looks like me in my last stint. The car was really bad to drive and I had all kinds of problems. That’s exactly what an endurance race is about however.
The end of my stint. More repair work needed on the suspension. 2 more stints to go.
I'm actually surprised we made it to the finish line. Our car was a wreck in the end. No major damages to the body, but the chassis was pretty beaten up.
We had to replace a rear upright late in the race. We lost another 20 mins.
Not so good looking any more.
For the last 2 hours of the race we were suffering from huge handling problems.One of the front shocks was broken which was causing the front of the car to "porpoise" under braking.
The last stint of the race. Johan is limping the car home. He managed impressive lap times to say the least, especially given the damage to the car's suspension.
Here's a very tired team watching the timing screens at the end of race. The last hour was intense as we managed to climb up from 12th to 7th. We finished 2 seconds in front of the 8th car, after 24 hours!
Here I'm walking over to pit wall to watch the finish… look at that beard!
2000 eager people are awaiting the checkered flag.
Finish line. Johan was complaining about the handling of our Porsche on the radio. When we checked the car afterwards the right front suspension was completely broken off. Only the spring held the suspension together! The fact that he could drive the car is just amazing. Our chief mechanic could barely drive the car from the scrutinizing section to the pit. Respect to Johan!!
I hope you enjoyed reading my personal report from the Dubai 24Hs. I'm just in the middle of planning out a new European racing campaign for 2010 with an exciting brand new race car. I'll let you know more about this as soon as my plans are locked in.