Hello again to all the Speedhunters and
Need For Speed fans ! After a lot of fighting we have now have achieved our
weekend in FIA GT3 so far. In Paul Ricard we got things more together
finally took a step into the fight for podium finishes. It was a
awesome feeling and I will now tell you the story behind the weekend. When the balaclava goes on it's time to focus, focus.
The weekend was hot. Over 30 degrees celsius all the time
and that makes your preperations even more important. In two days the team
bought more then fifty litres of waters. It takes time to get comfortable with the warm
conditions both for mechanics, engineers and drivers. The racing suits are often 3-4 kg
heavier after each session for the amount of water that we sweat out in the car. Drinking lots of water is the only solution to
survive these temperatures.
Patrick Soderlund, Stefan our engineer and myself meet and put our goals
together before the weekend. We had something to prove after missing out in Jarama due to my crash, mistakes in our setup and some spins in the
first race. This time my goal was to be quick when needed and to really nail the
setup with Stefan during Fridays practice. Together we had analyzed
some setup issues from Jarama. Our car is really good regarding front end grip and
we mostly needed to work with getting the rear end to follow. We had learned an
important thing regarding camber settings already in Silverstone, but forgot it
in Jarama and we all thought that was one of our biggest mistakes in Jarama. It's easy to make
mistakes when you nearly have to build a new car in 4 hours …
After the installation of the new
engines in Jarama, the BMW Z4 GT3 really got the power to be a lot more competitive at the top of the field. From the team tent of Schubert Motorsport
they are ready for take off.
What an amazing track Paul Ricard
is. Wide and hyper modern with facillities akin to that of a
world class golf resort. The track it self has a lot of different
first half is slower and with more ordinary corners. In the middle you
super fast corner de Signes. The end of the lap has corners that
looks like a
fishing hook with wide open entries that steadily become sharper and
sharper. It means you can carry a lot of speed into the corners. The
last corner is really slow and you
need to make sure you get on the throttle at the right time. Why is the track painted? Although it makes for great photographs, the true thing is
that it's the run off areas. The paint is for reducing speed if you go off. Blue slows you a
little bit, red makes even more friction. If you spin and go out there you
can be sure the tires have a lot of damage. But it's quicker to change the tires than
body work right ?
I actually kept pole
position for a while during my qualifying, but I lost out with 0.18 seconds and
went down to third. But it means the balance of performance has started to settle and
the field is really close now. I made only one fast lap in qualifying due to a lot
of traffic when I started my second attempt. But I was pleased anyway.
Our car really made up on
this track, especially in the last section where I had the best sector time in
actually done his first real qualifying session this year after a lot of problems in the
first three races. He managed seventh position, but on the last lap he was on his way to second place on the grid when he got caught by traffic. Anyway it was a really big improvement. Fifth
and seventh means our chances for a good result were still very much alive.
The car looks so aggressive! I think it's better
to drive a car you think looks cool …
Tyres were maybe the most important
part for the weekend. In these hot temperatures, the rear tires had a really hard time.
It's really important to see what's happening in practice to be able to get the best tyre wear for the weekend. The right camber and pressures to give the best combination of grip and life. For qualifying you can put some extra stress into them,
but they wouldn't last for long in a race with this setup.
As always you have to keep your head
together to have a perfect race and qualifying. After a race weekend you often
feel so tired. The amount of concentration to do everything at the top level of motorsport takes a lot of effort. But it gives you a lot of adrenaline and I love it. My Arai GP6 RC with
Shift logo really looks great. A big thanks to Andy Blackmore who created it !
Time to change for another
stint. Stefan wants feedback and is in a hurry to open the door. Maybe he's just thinking about us and to get us some fresh air ?
On the way out of the pitlane
in practice we always measure the time to get an idea of how long we need for the pitstop. In the first race, we did what you can say was the perfect
pitstop. Our stop was only two hundreds of a second longer then the regulated
minimum time for this track. Patrick and I have always said we don't want to
give anything away in the pitstop and now we have done two perfect stops this
Our sister car is always tough competition.
On the start / finish straight for another lap. It's the only part of the track that has grandstands. The track was originally designed just for testing and you can run a lot of different layouts here.
Here I am about to cut the the curb. You can see that this one is small and won't be an issue for our car but the higher ones are where the chassis and suspension really have to work hard to absorb them. It's quicker if we can cut, the shortest way is always the fastest.
There is a huge straight at the back of the circuit. Imagine if we didn't use the chicane, then we would reach a really high top speed. As it was, we were reaching 252KM/H (157MPH) in fifth gear.
There is such a great variety in the GT3 class. Here is a picture of all the different manufacturers lined up. The Corvette is amazingly quick and the Ferrari's are quick on the straights. Lamborghini are probably the fastest and the Porsches are always difficult to beat. The Audis are still too heavy so they haven't been really competitive so far.
The fastest corner is de Signes. I only lifted the throttle in qualifying and carried from 250KM/H to 210KM/H into the corner. It's an amazing feeling when the car just grips with the surface. It just worked so good here in qualifying.
Stay inside the blue …
In qualifying the lights are on to show others you are pushing hard.
This is the start of race one. Patrick has a lot to think about. Surrounded by cars, it's best to keep going straight. In GT3 we have rolling starts so you have to be ready for the lights to go green.
A hard battle into the third corner.
Patrick made up some places after problems at the start. Here he is putting pressure on the Rosberg Audi. Rosberg also run an Audi in the DTM series.
Next up is the Graff Corvette. He climbs back up to his starting position.
We make our perfect stop and I can see our sister car in front. They started third and now we were catching up.
After some laps, I was able to close the gap to a trio of cars that were fighting for third place. I overtook Claudia and started to apply pressure to Marco Holzer in the Prospeed Porsche.
When he tried to pass the Muhlner Porsche in front of him, I made an attempt to pass him on the inside. It was successful and now we were in fourth place.
Towards the end our tires were starting to go off. The heat in the car was terrible but I could see I was catching the Muhlner Porsche and a possible podium. But the distance was just too much to make up.
To overtake a team mate can be dangerous and you don't want to do something stupid. We had a really hard battle, a little bit too hard Claudia thought. But that is racing, we want to acheive the best possible result and this time I had the speed.
In the end it went well and we finished fourth and fifth. Patrick and I had actually acheived our goal to get in the top five. But we both knew how close we were to the podium and that the next day with some adjustments and a better starting position we should be able to challenge for the podium.
The car is raised here to be exactly level. All the angles are measured : Corner weight, camber, ride height and toe angles. The mechanics work really hard on a race weekend and without them it wouldn't be possible to be on the pace. When Rupert the chief mechanic takes over, I feel relaxed.
What else do you need than speed ? Everyone was here; Rod, Paddy and Jonathan so we wanted to deliver. Even the French division of EA were present to launch the new Need for Speed game.
Time to practice the driver changes for the upcoming race. We've started to get used to them and each other now and can do it in around 25-30 seconds.
Standing in the shade to have a small chat about our plans for the race.
We work well together. It's really a pleasure to work with Patrick and Stefan. It's fun and we all have the spirirt to win.
It's better to push the car as the engine will be hot enough on track. 36 degrees celcius in the air, maybe 50 on the ground.
You're also better to wait outside the car as long as possible. I could see the front row from our spot and that felt good.
Another chat with Stefan. I think he told me to take care of the tires. I wanted him to tell me when every ten minutes had passed during the race so I would know out there how I was fairing and was better prepared to plan ahead.
The HANS device keep us safe out there. The FIA sticker means it has passed scrutiny.
I was really in the zone. I was focused and calm. Calm is my mantra, I got it from a friend and it works really well for me.
Starting fifth, the podium was my target. Sitting beside me was Dino Lunardi in the Corvette.
The team had now installed a drinks system in the car but it broke half way !
The start was really good for me. I had good speed into the first corner and was well placed on the inside.
Suddenly there was a Ferrari even further on the outside ! He had jumped the start and then received a drive through penalty. I was in fourth position.
Marco Holzer was in the lead.
Restart after safety car
After the first lap the safety car was brought out after some collisions. After the restart I had the Corvette straight behind me pushing. I had to close the door for some corners before I could manage to pull away. The Dunlop tires and low pressures made me slow for some corners but once they were warm, I had the speed again.
I actually put in the fastest lap of the entire race and was running in third before the pitstop. I was trying to save the tires as much as possible as I knew Patrick would need them.
In the pits, the whole Schubert Motorsport team was watching. Could it be a day for the podium ?
The pits and driver change went as good as the day before and we were still battling for a podium.
Patrick drives as best as he can and everything looks promising.
The sister car was making up spots after starting from the back of the grid having been penalized in qualifying due to a fault in the position of the rear wing.
Patrick starts to push for another lap. We should definitely manage fourth.
I was hoping the cars in front would start to struggle with tires so Patrick could catch them.
Then it happened. A puncture. The left rear tire flew into the heavens and the race was over. We probably ran over something during my or Patrick's stint and now everything was over.
It was frustrating and we lost a lot of points. Nothing else can be said really. Sh*t.
It's a big bang when it happens and it's very difficult to handle the car. Patrick did it without any damage which makes life a bit easier but it was still a huge disappointment.
Overall we delivered two thrilling races. We know we have the speed. Now, it's time for a break and to further develop the car. Our aim is of course to reach the podium at the next event. Until then, have a great summer everyone !