All right! First round! First real test of the new car setup for the year, let’s do this!
With all the issues we had while prepping the car (see our previous post: Ready for the 2017 Formula D Season) we were honestly expecting to be wrenching on the car for most of the day but no! As soon as we got on track we were able to get a good 8 laps in right away. At this point, getting the car dialed in was the priority since Jeff has ran this track several times before so learning the layout and assessing the risk of getting close to the walls was not a concern.
The car was running well and it seemed all the issues we had in testing were gone, what surprised us the most was the way the car produced power, it is so different with a supercharger instead of a turbo set up so Jeff had to adjust his driving style to match it.
On our qualifying laps there was a small mistake on each one which lowered our score but overall they were good runs, definitely not our best runs of the weekend but it was enough to put us in competition on the 21st spot against Juha Rintanen.
Saturday, competition day, we made a few suspension adjustments and started testing the car again in practice but here is where the weekend started to go south for us. The belt slipped out of place while the car was in the staging area, it hit the power steering reservoir tank and pierced it making all the power steering fluid leak out.
We only had about half an hour to get it fixed before our Top 32 battle. Not a big deal right? We just need to replace the reservoir tank and we bought a replacement power steering pump a few days before which… didn’t come with the tank. No problem, there’s a bunch of auto parts stores nearby, one has to have it right? No… all special order. Now, maybe one of the other teams would have one that we can use, well… nobody else runs a GM pump. All right then, let’s head over to the car show area and see if there’s a car with one and we can convince the owner to let us borrow it, we found one but it was a bit different, we would have to modify the lines to fit our car and we just didn’t have enough time anymore.
So our last resort was epoxy. We hoped it would last just for the Top 32 battle and then we would have more time to fix it properly. It did work in the sense that the car didn’t leak power steering fluid all over the track anymore but it did have a very small leak which was right above the belt and was dripping fluid onto it, that caused the belt to be slipping on the supercharger during the entirety of the battle against Juha giving him a somewhat easy win.
The reason why the belt slipped out? A screw holding down an idler pulley came loose so the belt tension was lost. Basically, we lost our opportunity to make it into the Top 16 because we didn’t put a few drops of thread locker on that screw. But that’s how drifting and any kind of motorsport is, tough and unforgiving, we all learn this the hard way.
Overall we are very happy with the way the car behaved this round and it seems all the small issues with the new setup are being fixed quickly. There will be some more adjustments made to the car for next round in Orlando so we’ll be going in stronger!