I went back up to Montreal this weekend for the last round of the DMCC season at ICAR. I had high hopes for this round since I won at this track at Round 2. But that was in the wet, and this would be the first time for me drifting at ICAR in the dry. I drove up on Friday and hung out with the guys that have been helping me out in DMCC all year. Thanks Kevin, Cedric, and JF for the awesome season! We got to the track on Saturday and waited for Pro practice in the afternoon. The track was changed a little from Round 2 so that we wouldn’t have to avoid a water drain on initiation, basically the same layout but with the walls moved further out. I watched all of the Pro-Am practice to see if I could learn some things and biked the track before going out in the car.
I took it easy on the first few runs. DMCC was nice enough to put up plastic barriers and tires in front of the high-risk portions of concrete to help save cars throughout the weekend. People really took advantage of it. It was the most crashes I’ve seen in a single event all year. Unfortunately, cleaning up the plastic barriers and tires after each crash took away a lot of practice time. This track was all about the entry and the first turn. I got more comfortable as the practice went on and was able to scrape the wall on the entry a few times without messing up my line. It was a lot of fun.
I noticed at some point in practice that the fuel pressure was reading high on the fuel rail gauge. It was at around 70psi most of the time and was even up to 80psi at one point. The gauge attached to the regulator at the rear of the car was reading fine at 58psi. It had me a bit worried, but I left it alone since the car seemed to be running fine and didn’t smell like it was running rich. I gave Kevin a ride-along at one point to get his opinion on whether the car seemed down on power. He said it was fast.
On Sunday, we had a short practice in the morning. I noticed the track seemed to have more grip than the previous day, but I adjusted to it after a few runs. My best friend, Carl, gave me a bump down the straightaway at one point because I was too slow, so thanks for that. It definitely gave everyone something to talk about in the pits… haha.
We didn’t touch anything on the car and waited for qualifying. In my first run, I wanted to put up a score but still needed to be on the aggressive side because there were a lot of drivers doing well this weekend. Also, with the track being so short, there wasn’t much opportunity to distinguish yourself from the competition besides the first turn. My first qualifying run was a safe and solid run, but the track definitely had more grip than it did in the morning session, so I wasn’t able to drift out to the wall like the judges wanted. I thought I was just entering too safely and decided to drive it harder in the second run instead of loosening up the car. I went for my second run, accelerated as hard as I could, and entered later than usual, but I still had too much grip and couldn’t make it out to the wall. I also went wide on the first inner clip after the wall trying to drive the car too hard, so that was a bad run. I got 11th place and was pretty disappointed in that, but judging from the good practice sessions, I felt I could still do well in tandem.
I was matched up with Tanner in top 16 like many other times this year. I would be following first. The sun had come out before the top 16 and it was noticeably hotter. We added some pressure in the tires to loosen it up and with the track heating up, I thought it would take away some more grip and make the car easier to drive. I gave Tanner a little space on the entry because I wasn’t sure if he’d go deep into the first turn or take a shallow line. He was running shallow most of practice, but it was probably just to avoid ending up in the wall. I had a decent follow run but could never get on his door because I didn’t have enough grip. I thought he was going to be on me pretty good following, so I had to do an awesome lead run to get the win or a OMT. I initied hard into the first turn and scraped all the way down the wall with the left rear. It felt awesome! I rode the wall and finished off the run clean. Tanner followed me well too but wasn’t on my door. We got a OMT.
When we came back to the start line, I told Kevin to lower the pressures a lot, and we went out for our next set of runs. This time, I initiated right on Tanner’s bumper and followed him perfectly through the first turn. It was looking great, but when he slowed down for the inner clip after the wall ride, I wasn’t able to slow down as fast and had to straighten to keep from hitting him. I thought I was at a big disadvantage and had to get crazy for my lead run. In reality, the judges had reviewed the replay and decided that Tanner slowed down excessively, and they gave me the advantage for that run. Of course, I didn’t know that, so off I went on my crazy lead run attempt. I entered probably the fastest and latest I had all weekend and scraped my way down the wall again. My bumper came off and bash bar got bent into a pretzel, but it didn’t affect my line at all! At some point, I realized I was going way too fast and was heading right into the barriers. I tried to floor it and turn the car to the right to pull it away from the wall, but I ended up spinning out. I kept it floored and spun away from the wall and Tanner. Our wheels touched slightly, but there was no damage. We waited forever to get the decision. I was sure I had lost, but they gave us another OMT! The rationale was that I had the advantage on the first run, and Tanner won the second run.
I was pretty stoked at this point to have another shot and was thinking that Tanner must be pissed! lol. We lined up again, and I followed him well this time with no mistakes. I guess I could have been closer, but I remember thinking at the end of the run that it was a really good follow and would be hard for him to beat. Tanner’s follow run was great too, and I went a little wide on the first inner clip, which let him close in more. It seemed pretty even between us, but the judges can’t call a third OMT, so they would have to make a decision. We waited forever again, and then Tanner was announced as the winner. I’m not sure if he just followed me closer or if there’s something I did that the judges didn’t like, but I wasn’t too upset about it. Those runs were definitely the best of my weekend, and people were going nuts when I scraped down that wall twice in a row. I had a pretty big lead in the championship and managed to win it even though Briggs went on to finish third in this event. So overall, it was a good season, and I feel like I can drive way better now than when I started. I do need to concentrate more on my qualifying though as that would definitely give me better chances to get on the podium and will be super important in FD.