The second day of practice had the team running on the bottom section of the course from the Start Line to Glen Cove. The times that competitors posted on this section, will determine the qualifying order for Race Day on Sunday. This year the organizers saw a huge increase in entries (around 200), which meant we would only get two attempts to lay down a quick qualifying time. We had to be on our game immediately and post a quick time.
Run one was forgettable. We had a terrible vibration start, once we hit the first straightaway. That pretty much killed our confidence to push, so we just babied the car to the finish and returned to the pits. Our great crew quickly diagnosed the issue and had us lined up again on the start line for run #2. Run 2 went better, but we were still slower than times that we posted last year. Engine response was partially to blame for the slower time, so we knew our work was cut out for us, to try and fix the issue by remapping the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Thankfully, the team had Victor Kuhns of DM Rally as our crew chief this year and he went to work on re-mapping the ECU, to provide us with more boost pressure at lower RPM’s. We would be able to see the results of the new mapping, on the next day of practice, on Friday. Victor is very talented with tuning ECU’s and is a Subaru genius, so we were thrilled to have him on the team this year.
3:00 am rolled around and we were off to the mountain again, for day 3 of practice on the middle section – Glen Cove to Devils Playground. Confidence was high and we were excited to test the changes made to our ECU. We had high hopes to get in 3-4 solid runs on this critical section of the mountain, that included the famous “W’s” section. With our on-board cameras rolling, we set off on our first run with an easy approach, of feeling out the road to see how much gravel was on top of the tarmac. We finished the run and I set about my regular routine, of checking tire and intercooler temps. On the way back down the mountain, bad luck struck.
First the car stalled and then I listened to the dreaded “knock” through the intercom system. I kept silent over the intercom, not wanting to verbalize my fears of blowing up a motor two days before race day. We pulled the car back in the pit and wondered what had happened to the motor. Our crews faces quickly confirmed what I had thought. The motor had spun a bearing on the bottom end, creating the dreaded “rod knock” noise, that no racer wants to hear. Peak Week had just became that much harder. With a blown motor and Fan Fest all Friday night, the team had its work cut for them, in order to make the grid for race day. That’s racing sometimes.
We would like to thank our great sponsors, that help make it happen for our team every year – Peak Performance Products, APR Performance, Crawford Performance and Heuberger Subaru. These companies make some of the best products in the automotive industry and we are thrilled to have them on board. Special thanks to our awesome media partners as well – Mylifeatspeed.com, EuroBerge.com and DirtyImpreza.com.