Back in December 2010, I competed in the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout. After a phenomenal weekend I won a scholarship for Skip Barber's 2011 Summer Series. 5 months later I was ready to get in the car, kicking off the season in Virginia at the famous Virginia International Raceway - VIR. The weekend consisted of 4 days of on track activity on Thursday to Sunday.
Thursday: Thursday was the first time I saw the track, and I was not disappointed! The day started off with dry conditions but by the time it was my turn to get in the cars the skies had opened up. I was feeling confident as 2 of the sessions I did at the Scholarship Shootout were in the wet. I may have been a little over confident however, pushing the brake points to the limit and a little beyond. The car came back without any damage and I was already looking forward to the next session. Luckily the rain stopped and the track dried out, allowing me to push the car hard and learn the track.
Friday: On Friday I started to push the car harder, I went past the limit a few times in the first session but I pulled it all together in the second session of the day. My driving improved dramatically from earlier in the day and my coach Michael Valiante had me start running with other cars to learn all about using the draft. Utilizing the draft in these cars makes a huge difference, and by the end of the second session I was ready for qualifying first thing Saturday morning.
Saturday: In qualifying I drove my heart out, and did it ever pay off! I jumped up to third on the time sheets, with a fellow Canadian Stefan Rzadzinski one spot head of me in second. On the last lap of qualifying I was in a great position to get pole position. However the back end of the car stepped out on me in one of the fastest corners on the track and I spun. While I was still third fastest in the session the rules of the race series say that if you have a loss of control in qualifying, you start in the back. It turns out I wasn't the only one to lose control and because I was the fastest of those who did I was set to start in 11th out of 15. The way the day was supposed to unfold would have had me in the last race of the day. Unfortunately in the race prior to mine there were a number of incidents that delayed the race to the point that there was no longer enough time to fit my race in. This meant that I would get to race twice on Sunday.
Qualifying Results: www.mylaps.com/results/showrun.jsp?id=1856672
Sunday: Sunday morning I got strapped into the car, ready to start the first car race of my life. I was very confident in my ability to run at the front, despite my 11th place starting position. I managed to get a great start, passing a few people before the first corner. When I got to the first corner I was greeted with a car spinning right in front of me and barley managed to avoid being collected. From there I just worked my way up, one car at a time. The rest of the race was fairly uneventful and by the end I finished 4th. I couldn't have been happier with the result, as it gave me an excellent stating position for the second race and I was given the Rookie of the Race award. The second race was nowhere near uneventful. I got a great start and worked my way up to the lead within a few laps. I fell back a few positions and battled with some great drivers, at times three abreast into the braking zones. The second to last lap I started in 5th, and by the end of it I was challenging for second. As the white flag came out, signaling one lap to go, I found myself three wide all the way through turn 1. I fell back to fourth but made a great move on the outside of a slow corner with the aid of some lap traffic to get back into the third position. Going into the braking zone at the end of the back straight with a few corners to go I was side by side, resulting in contact with a fellow competitor. I managed to retain third position and crossed the finish line right behind first and second. I was thrilled for Stefan Rzadzinski who ended up winning the race by 0.071 second, making it Canadians finishing first and third. Unfortunately, because of the contact I received a 25 second penalty as did the 4th and 5th place finishers changing my official finishing position to 4th.
Race 1 Results: www.mylaps.com/results/showrun.jsp?id=1856674
Race 2 Results: www.mylaps.com/results/showrun.jsp?id=1856675
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