Global Time Attack alongside Formula Drift at Road Atlanta is always one of the biggest time attack races of the year, and brings out the fastest teams in North America. It has always been our version of Daytona in the time attack community, in the form of a huge event with tons of fans starting the GTA season at our fastest track. With the massive crowds that invade Road Atlanta every spring, this year we had the luxury of having the Pirelli Trans Am Series also racing alongside us in the busy schedule, joining us for the first time since 2014. After a disappointing first event at Mid Ohio, and fresh from a new tune from MA Motorsports, we were hoping to get the #44 BC Racing Infiniti G35 back on track at a place we knew as well as Road Atlanta.
The weekend started out well on Thursday’s practice but in our second session we had a fairly new issue begin to plague us, and it wouldn’t let up all weekend. Just like in the last session at Mid Ohio, our turbo intercooler pipe popped off on our fastest lap of the day. We quickly brought the car in and began addressing the problem and preparing for raceday on Friday morning. Not realizing how much this was going to effect us all weekend we ended up replacing the clamps and making sure everything was sealed and tight, assuming everything would be fine for the morning session and making a mental note to check the clamps after each raceday, if not every session.
Friday morning in the first session the car felt great on our first laps and the brand new Toyo R-888R’s started to feel amazing on the much warmer Road Atlanta track surface (was much better than frozen Mid Ohio) providing more grip than the older R-888’s we had used all last season. On our second hot lap we were free of traffic and on a good flyer, only to have the intercooler pipe pop off again going into turn 7, before the back straight. With the session scrapped for us, we once again pulled the front end apart, changed to different style t-bolt clamps and this time added a few strategic zip-ties to hold the pipe to some chassis bars in hopes if it did try to blow off again it would at least stay in place. We struggled with this issue the next two sessions with the same results and ended day 1 frustrated but with a new plan for Day 2. After a few hours of modifying a few items and contemplating why now all of sudden this became a problem, we wrapped up the car confident it would work the following day.
Saturday morning, fresh from the frustration of the previous two days, we got on track after being bumped to the first car in the C group and finally figured out a solution for the intercooler pipe problem, but the car still felt down on power. I lapped smoothly and aggressively drove as fast as I could, but the #44 G35 felt like it was lacking a lot of speed on the top end and no where near as quick as it felt in practice before the piping issues. After taking a look at data, messing with a few things, and trying again for session 2 and 3, we finally realized that there was something happening in the tune. Thanks to the guys at MA Motorsports looking at the data remotely back in Baltimore, we had finally discovered that a wheel speed sensor had failed and was triggering the traction control to be engaged anytime the car was moving, essentially detuning the car across the entire power band and reducing our speeds a great deal in every section of the track.
Unfortunately, by the time we got this secondary issue figured out we only had one session left in the weekend, and just as our luck has been this year, the session was called early when one of the cars in the front of our B group had ended up oiling down 2/3rds of the track, leaving the surface greasy and the final session of the weekend black flagged. It was a frustrating weekend and even with the lap down on power we managed a decent time good enough for 4th place out of 15 cars, but a good bit slower than our time goal we had set for the event. Luckily we got a few issues sorted out and the car should be ready to battle just a few days from now at VIR for the Ultimate Track Car Challenge and our shortest turn around time of the season. Be sure to also lookout for us to return to Road Atlanta later this year in defense of our win from last year at the GridLife South Festival.