Practice and Qualifying today

14 05 2010

Well the day finally dawned when we finally start the event.

A 90 minute practice session early afternoon, followed by timed practice 7:30-11:30PM.

The afternoon session was incredibly challenging – first time in the car, ever, a track that was wet and slippery and driving on the F1 circuit for the first time, ever, and 206 cars on the track all at once going for it!

Oddly I felt really calm in the couple of hours leading up to my stint in the car, only getting butterflys about 5 minutes before the car was due to return to change drivers and I’d get on and head out onto the Green Hell in hellish conditions – mist, rain, freezing temperatures – 3-5deg.

The  aim was to get the car back in one piece and get a feel for the car in 1 lap only – it was actually 3 laps of the F1 circuit and 1 of the Nordschleife.

My confidence wasn’t helped by understeering right across the track on the incredibly difficult to read T1 straight out of the pits, then doing a tank slapper down the Hatzenbach S (first part of the Nordschleife) with the armco looming large, only to correct it just in time! I’ve never driven in such slippery conditions and here I was heading out onto the Nordschleife in a car that was new to me. Pretty much wanted to be anywhere else at this point!

Tippy-toed all around the track with several other loss of adhesion moments and got home safe and sweaty. All other drivers were telling the same story.

THe evening session started out foggy on top of all this but surprisingly the track was less saturated and a definite dry line had emerged although it was still slippery off this line. After a suck it and see 1st lap, I gained a lot of confidence in the cars grip levels and actually enjoyed the 2nd lap – in fact came back on a bit of a high having successfully navigated through the first day of competition in very challenging conditions. Surely it can only get better from here??

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