The main event of the year always brings challenges, but this year brought us more challenges than we had ever seen before. Global Time Attack Super Lap Battle is where the biggest and best come out from all across North America to showcase their skills and speed, and this year was no exception. We knew the task would be a difficult one to achieve, but the team was more than willing to put forth all the effort needed.
The mad dash for Super Lap started just after Super Lap 2016 ended, but with different setbacks occurring we ended up behind (as if that was any surprise). So fast forward to 2 weeks before SLB 2017, where we sat with many tasks to complete and not much time to get them done. We prioritized them as best we could and worked from there. Tasks included installing a new BorgWarner EFR turbo, a new rear APR performance wing, and a new diffuser. Paul of YimiSport plugged away tirelessly to complete all the necessary tasks and with support from Oscar and TJ many of the items were completed early on (a week before the event), with a few major items having to wait to be completed such as our new diffuser designed by Rami.
The days leading up to the event we had plans of testing and gathering valuable data as well as just giving myself a chance to drive the car a bit, seeing as it hadn’t been driven since last December at Willow Springs. Our last minute additions forced us to pull an all-nighter on the Tuesday before the event, leaving for our test session at about 7am, with plans to start testing at noon. Once everyone got 20 minutes of sleep, we jumped on track and did a few laps. We had made many changes to the car, so we had a lot to explore and many things to adjust. We decided to pack it in and get some sleep in preparation for the two days of battle to come. In hindsight, we probably should have gone to sleep earlier.
The next morning we awoke with optimism and excitement, but that would be short lived. We jumped out on track in the practice session (which I should point out is the only session of the two days that doesn’t count toward the official results). We easily put down a 1:44 on some old tires and were feeling great, so I went for another lap. Coming out of Riverside… BOOM… the motor let go and a rod decided to vacate the block. A small fire broke out, which I was able to put out with my handheld extinguisher and fortunately IWire did a fantastic job of insulating our new electrical harness, leaving us with no real damage.
After being pulled into the pits by Fire Rescue, we started to go over our options, one being to get drunk and call it a day and the other to call our engine supplier, Outfront Motorsports, and see what they could come up with. The team had a no quit attitude, so of course we called Outfront. They jumped into action and came to our rescue, putting together a block for us that morning. We then towed the car back to YimiSport and began to tear the old one out in preparation for the new one. The guys at YimiSport (Stacy, Berto, and Xach) all jumped in and helped. Without them, there was no way it would have been possible. The team worked all night and had the car running and back to the track at 1030, but the problem was that our next session was at 11. We pushed, but missed the 2nd session of the day by about 5 minutes. That left us with only 2 sessions to put down one of the fastest laps ever recorded at Super Lap Battle to date (Andy Smedegard had already laid down a 1:40.xxx).
Our anticipation began to grow as the 3rd session was about to begin. We knew it was coming down to crunch time. As I started the warmup lap, I noticed some misfires but figured I had to push. As I came down the front straight on the flying lap, it was impossible to run a fast lap with the current issues. I pulled into the pits and we started immediately going over the car, trying to figure out what was causing the issue. We found a ground that was off (thanks Will) and then Paul went to work on getting the tune sort by doing a couple of pulls in a completely legal fashion. He came back into our pit with a smile on his face and we instantly knew it was game on! With minutes to spare, Oscar noticed that we had an oil leak off of a fitting of the dry sump. He jumped on it, having to take off other items to get to it, and quickly got it sorted with literally no time to spare.
With everything that we had gone through to get to this point, I knew I needed to get a solid lap in for the team – their efforts deserved a solid result. With the car running solid, I was able to start to push the car harder than I had before and I clicked off a 1:42.306, putting us in 2nd place in Unlimited AWD. With that I was able to push the car harder, knowing I had a solid lap, but to our dismay the head gasket had let go and the car started to overheat on the second flying lap, leaving us with a 1:43 on that lap. The head gasket was no surprise, being that we didn’t have time to resurface the heads but we did what we had to and made it back out, putting in one of the most amazing efforts I have seen in years.
We finished the event 2nd in Unlimited AWD and 3rd overall fastest of the event with 85 cars – not too bad, with 2 real hot laps on a completely new setup.
A big shout out to Professional Awesome as they dealt with their adversity (very similar to ours). They are always a class act and give it their all.
I cannot say how proud I am of the team and the effort they put forth. This was an effort that really shows the dedication and commitment they have. I cannot thank them enough for everything that they do to make this team the great team that it is. Thank you to Paul, Oscar, Rami, Aaron, TJ, Joseph, Ken, and many more. I also am thankful for our partners and sponsors who make this all possible.
Congratulations to Andy and team on their achievement, it takes more than most will ever understand to win overall at Super Lap Battle.