Race Report for Viking Racing, Formula Car Challenge - Race 7/8. August 27/28th, 2011 (Indy GP Weekend)
August 27/28th was the weekend of the annual Indy Car Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. As the Formula Car Challenge was a featured event both days, it also meant it was Race 7/8 for me in the Formula Car Championship. Besides us and the Indy Cars, there was also historic cars, the Star Mazda Pro Championship as well as touring cars so the paddock was full and track time limited.
As such we only had one practice session before qualifying, no warm up but just the two races. At the last race here, we were running the Indy Car configuration so I knew the track but since it was 2 months back I would have preferred some more test time to get back in to the grove.
Because of the special weekend both the Pro Formula Mazda as well as the Formula Mazda fields were bigger than usual with a total of 35 - 40 cars. 3 of the drivers in my class (Pro Formula Mazda) were either current or past Star Mazda Pro Championship drivers so the competition was tough.
In qualifying session one I had 4th quickest time (fastest of the non-pro drivers) and in second qualifying session I did not get any open laps and ended with 7th quickest time. All in all I was very happy with that as it was a 1.5 - 2 seconds improvement from my last race here. These two results combined meant I had to start Saturday's race from 6th spot on row 3.
The first race was an action packed and exciting race. From 6th position I made some good passes and made my way up to 3rd. Unfortunately in my efforts to make it to 3rd I hit a curb in an attempt to pass and ruined my front wing meaning I had no grip in the front wing and as such I had to do the last 5 laps without front end grip. The result was obviously slower lap times and 2 drivers caught me and I ended in 5th place.
The starting grid for the second race was determined by lap times from the first race. Again I had 4th quickest time and started Sunday's race from 4th spot on the second row. This lap time was my quickest throughout the weekend and a full 4 seconds faster than my fastest in-race lap time from last race here!
Starting on the second row next to my team mate Mike Guasch I got a good start and was in the hunt from the very beginning. Unfortunately the changes we had made to the car between the races were not for the better and it had a bad push (under steer) and was not as good as Saturday. When doing the changes I knew it was a calculated risk - but it was worth trying.
I lost a position early on and was in 5th for a while. Slowly my car got better and as some of the competitors' cars fell off I started to catch them again, made my way to 4th and was very close to 3rd place, when I missed a gear shift going in to turn 9 and the car spun. Before I got going again I got passed and with only 2-3 laps left I ended this race in 5th as well. During the race my fastest lap time was identical to the fastest lap time of my team mate who ended second.
Going in to this race and with this field, I would have been more than happy with two 5th places in advance. However, as the weekend went on and with my very competitive lap times I am a bit disappointed that I did not end up at the podium at least one of the days. One little mistake in each race was the factor, but that is how racing is and also what makes it exciting.
All in all it was a great weekend and it was a fantastic feeling to drive in front of thousands of race fans, signing autographs and talking to a bunch of racing fans dropping by our paddock. As I have a Danish flag on the car, quite a few Danes dropped by and one even had the Danish flag painted on his chin just for me.
I am happy about my progress and I am not a second in doubt that if I can keep up the progress it will not take long before I will be a regular visitor on the podium. I would like to thank my mechanic Brent as well as my engineer Rick for providing me with a reliable and very competitive car throughout the weekend.
Next challenge up will be September 11th with Race #6 in the Redline Karting Championship.
Once again I would like to thank my sponsors for making this season possible.