The weekend after Hyperfest, I went up to Canada for DMCC Round 2 at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel. As soon as I got across the border, it was pouring rain, and it didn’t stop until I left. This was a one-day event for the Pro drivers, with practice and qualifying in the afternoon and competition at night. The course was pretty simple, a long right turn riding a wall, then an inner clip, transition to the left for another inner clip, and finish up with an outer clip against some plastic barriers. It was basically like the Florida XDC layout but bigger and faster. The bad part about it is they disregarded the actual track, and just made their own drift course. So instead of following some of the normal corners at ICAR, we were drifting over storm drains, rumble strips, and painted “grass” (green paint on the concrete). That may have been OK in the dry, but in the wet, going over the paint was like driving on ice, so you had to watch for the painted parts and adjust your steering/throttle to not spin out when you hit the paint.
Everyone took it easy in practice to not end up in the wall. I think there were just about 16 drivers at the start of the event, so there was plenty of time for everyone to get practice. I did as many runs as I could and mostly tried to get a feel for how fast I could enter the first turn and where to downshift to 3rd after the first turn. My car felt pretty fast on throttle, but it was hard to drive in the rain because it really wanted to straighten any time I got off the throttle. So I would find myself getting off throttle to keep from spinning, but the car would immediately try to snap straight. I left it alone and didn’t change anything with the setup because I wanted to have the speed/grip for tandem.
In qualifying, I did a super safe first run and put up a score. I went deeper into the first turn on the second run but ended up hitting one of the plastic inner clipping point barriers because the car gripped a lot harder than I thought it would on throttle and just pulled forward into the clip. I was fighting it all day because it was hard to predict when it would spin tires and when it would grip. My second qualifying run was a bit better than the first, and I ended up qualifying 4th.
Since a bunch of people crashed or spun on both qualifying runs, I was automatically in the top 8. Only 11 cars actually qualified. I went against Claude Poirier in his LS 350Z. At this point, it was completely dark and raining pretty hard. There was still some light out during qualifying, so visibility wasn’t too bad, but I had no clue it would be this terrible at night for tandem. There was a spotlight on the first turn which pointed directly at you. So as soon as I initiated into the first turn, I couldn’t see anything. I could see one white line on the ground, and I knew I had to be about 2 car-widths to the left of that. And somewhere further to the left, there was a wall, which I couldn’t see. After finally passing the spotlight, it was total darkness except for the two inner clipping points, which were lit up with LEDs. There was a huge puddle before the second inner clip, which threw water everywhere. I also couldn’t see the painted grass anymore, so I had to tip-toe through those areas to not spin out. My wiper was just smearing water/junk all over the windshield, so I wasn’t using it most of the time. I would just turn it on to disperse the water, then turn the radiator fans on high to blow hot air out the back of the hood and dry the windshield.
Overall, I did a pretty shaky lead run against Claude because I couldn’t see anything and was not expecting that. My follow run was equally shaky since it was even worse with the lead car’s water spray right in your face. Claude probably had it even worse with his convertible… lol. We got a OMT, and now knowing the conditions I was working with, I was able to put down two normal runs and get the win.
In top 4, I went against Marc Landreville. I knew he was an aggressive driver from his good finishes in 2010 and from watching him in practice, so I would have to get close to beat him. He led first, and I entered the first turn right behind him. I seriously could not see anything except his right taillight. If he ate the wall, I’d be right behind him because his car was the only reference point I was using to get through the course. But I figured that I would just sandwich him into the wall and his car would cushion the impact for my car, so I wasn’t too worried… haha. I could suck up to him pretty easily on throttle, so I was able to stay close. I’m not sure what happened when he followed me. He didn’t look that far behind, but maybe he made a correction or something because I got the win.
So I was in the final against Jeff Laflamme, the winner of Round 1. It was basically a repeat of my top 4 runs, stayed pretty close to him on the first turn although he got a bit of a gap on me towards the end. No idea if he followed me well or made a mistake. From the pictures I’ve seen, it looked like he was close but went really shallow on the first turn to keep up, so that may have given me the advantage. We pulled up in front of the crowd to get the decision, get out of the car, and one of the DMCC dudes is going to raise the winner’s hand. So he gets the decision, and raises Jeff’s hand. Then he raises my hand, and I’m thinking, “Uhhhh… WTF Canada!” After some confusion, the guy confirms that I got the win… haha.
So that was awesome and a great payday considering I didn’t use a single set of tires due to rain. I got my first win at DMCC and my third podium in a row! It wasn’t the most fun event since you had to drive safely, but I guess it’s a good skill to learn to be able to do a bunch of sketchy runs without vision and not straighten/spin/crash/poop your pants on any of them.
Thanks a lot to Dave Briggs for housing me under his tent and to Mats for that egg sandwich! lol
The following are my in-car videos from the top 4 and final battles, which gives you some idea of the low visibility and how we had to tip-toe through this course to avoid spinning or straightening.