Dennis Palatov, Palatov Motorsport, took time out of his busy week to give all of our My Life at SPEED fans a recap of the only “situation” they faced during the practice week. Other than the one “situation” the Palatov Motorsport D2RS car performed flawlessly. A top performer all week, driver Jonathan Frost is ready to go for the win on race day.
During the driver’s meeting held after technical inspection on Monday, all competitors had been warned about the condition of the pavement in the top section of the mountain. But for many….including Palatov, the pavement proved to be worse than imagined.
With large sections that are like driving over a washboard and big bumps as areas have settled, the upper part of the Pikes Peak race course is of concern for many. There is no smooth race course line and all competitors have been working to find the least line of resistance as they tackle the top section.
Many of the drivers commented that some of the bumps were so big that they would hit their heads on the roll bar. Kind of like hitting the biggest pot hole at top speed, even a helmet hits hard enough to make your eyes water.
The Palatov Motorsport driver, Jonathan Frost, experienced first hand just how hard a bump can be and what it can do to your race car. With sparks flying after hitting a particularly rough area, Jonathan had the fortitude to know that the car had suspension damage and this would be the only run he would have for the practice session. As a rookie, he must get the car to the summit on each practice day or he would not be able to compete in the race.
Dennis Palatov shares his thoughts with our My Life at SPEED fans of the practice session where things went “bump” on the upper part of the course.
From Dennis Palatov – Practice Day 2 – Devil’s Playground to the Summit
We set up as usual. It’s considerably warmer than it was when we tested up here in 2012. But only two weeks ago this parking lot was covered in 8 feet of snow.
At the drivers’ meeting we are told that the pavement up here is very bumpy. Per our earlier discussions, Jonathan is going to take it easy today and focus mainly on learning the road and evaluating aero tweaks. The cars take off for their first run. There is an off, but the driver is not hurt. The times are posted showing that Jonathan did a 3:57. That’s about 30 seconds slower than I expected but I did tell him to take it easy so I don’t give it much thought.
The run is done and the cars come back down. I stand there waiting for the D2 to pop up around the curve… but it never does. Then we are told there was a problem with the suspension and Jonathan is stuck at the summit for the rest of the morning. There isn’t much we can do but wait especially since all our spares are 4,500 feet below us in the trailer.
It’s rather cold at the summit and Randy Pobst is kind enough to take a jacket up to Jonathan on his next run, in the trunk of his GTR.
The important thing is that we have completed a run on the upper section, which is required in order to qualify for the race since Jonathan is a rookie at Pikes Peak, and today was our only chance to do it.
After the runs are done the car comes back on a flatbed and is then transported down to the trailer. Turns out the bumps launched the D2 hard enough to damage a suspension component, which bottomed out the car. We replace the parts in about 5 minutes while still on the truck, then load the race car in the trailer.
On with the task then – there is much to do. Checking and repairing any damage, figuring out what exactly went wrong and how to prevent or at least mitigate it in the future, and hopefully set corner weights. Working in a parking lot sounds like the primary option but fortunately one of our competitors, David Meyer (sponsored by his company Meyer Roofing), and his son Jon, connect us with one of their friends who can help. Nick lends us the use of his garage and tools while Jon brings out a set of corner scales. We even get a home-cooked meal! This is awesome – many thanks to a great group of people.
The D2RS Palatov Motorsport car is fixed and we are ready to qualify for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
To find out how you can participate in a track day demo and drive a Palatov DP2RS and try it out to see if it could be your perfect track day car, visit the Palatov Motorsport site and contact Dennis Palatov directly. He is excited to talk to you about the Palatov car options and help you make the perfect selection for your racing requirements.
From Dennis Palatov – Practice Day 3 – Qualifying
Jonathan’s strategy is to do a recon run then get back in line right away and do a second one. There are many cars and since some take over 5 minutes to complete the section, the line at the start moves slowly. Eventually, Jonathan lines up and takes off. We now have the luxury of watching live timing on a screen near the start line. He does a 4:15 which is a top time for a while until Paul Dallenbach posts an impressive 4:02.
The cars come back down, we turn around and Jonathan’s second run is a 4:12. Our main rival in the class posts an improved 4:13 on his second run so there is definitely competition, although as far as qualifying goes we’re still first in class. Then we’re told that a car spilled fluids on the road and it’s starting to look like we won’t get a third run. Then even the second run is shut down so qualifying will be based on the first run results.
This leaves us with a class lead and what looks like a 6th overall. Qualifying order matters because it gives us the best chance of good weather on race day. It is quite common for it to be clear, sunny and warm at noon but raining or even snowing on the summit by 5 pm.
As we pack up some emergency vehicles go up and we’re told that the road is shut down until further notice. Since we’re here we might as well do some maintenance like bleed the brakes, adjust shifter mechanism, swap tires, etc. This requires progressively higher levels of shade as the day heats up.
Ready for Race Day
The Palatov Motorsport team is ready for race day. After a win in 2012, they are here once again to show the world that a two seater sports car that is both street capable and track ready can win again at Pikes Peak.
Here are a few of our favorite photos from the week.
Palatov Motorsport Sponsors:
CMS Lap Timer
Oregon Raceway Park
Portland Speed Industries