How I use driverMonitor Series
How I use DriverMonitor: SCCA COTA Super Tour Qualifying edition
SCCA’s premier amateur racing series, the Hoosier Super Tour, arrived at Austin Texas’ Circuit of the Americas circuit in early February 2019. I had finished second in this event the previous year so was anxious for a better result this time.
Qualifying 1 started with us gridded according to our best practice times. As I was the only one in our class who had done the test day I was gridded at the front of the Touring 4 group of cars with a good practice time, ahead of some should be faster Touring 2 and Touring 3 cars. The track was mostly dry but it was sprinkling rain and cool, though only a Chicagoan would consider 35F ‘cool.’ I was hoping the tires would come up to temperature enough to break through any dampness on the track.
My first timed lap was, like the out lap, still strictly to get the fluids and tires up to temperature and trying to ‘stay between the grassy bits’ in the borderline treacherous conditions even if there isn’t much grass anywhere at COTA. Even with a slow lap time, DriverMonitor showed I was already faster than the other Touring 4 cars still also feeling things out.
On the second lap, I tried to step it up a bit and DriverMonitor showed me I had put in a time respectable for last year, but I knew we’d be faster this year with the cool temps and making more power. With this time of 2:41.478 I’m still on pole as others were still getting down to respectable times in the cold temps.
Third lap it’s time to bank a lap. Still a bit damp so gave up a little being tentative in turns 2 and 9 but exiting Turn 11 and onto the long back straight my dash was showing a predicted of 2:39.54, 0.3s under last years track record. Having worked with Dion Von Moltke at Racers360.com I was attempting to practice a new to me braking strategy that he said I’d likely be leaving time on table at first until mastered it. So I knew more repetitions applying it in subsequent laps there was time to be gained.
At the conclusion of the banked lap DriverMonitor shows I’m on pole with a 2:40.028 but in Turn 1 there is now an incident with a car off drivers right and another car moving slowly through the esses. As the exit of turn 1 is blind I give up a lot of speed on entry so to not be ‘that guy’ spinning into the existing mess; as such the likelihood of bettering my banked lap is minimal so I take a lap ‘off’ to cool the tires, apt for 35F weather.
Next time through Turn 1 there is now a flatbed tow truck on the outside of turn 1, so again can’t improve on my banked lap. As I’m circulating waiting for a clear track again I get caught by a Mustang and Solstice, both Touring 2 cars which should be faster than me and should have been gridded well in front of my Touring 4 car.
At this point with the incident in Turn 1 and the fast in a straight line cars traffic, I’ve got to get the best lap I can with the tow truck on the outside of turn 1. Thirteen seconds after starting this lap DriverMonitor shows I’ve slipped to P2 and there’s a new pole time of 2:39.138, a full 0.6s under the track record. With the track improving its time to get a move on.
While this lap was mostly traffic free, I saw my predicted lap time raise all the way down the back straight from a poor Turn 11 execution. Coupled with the careful approach to Turn 1 I only got down to 2:39.209, less than a tenth off the pole. But it was clear there was more in the car.
Now with Turn 1 clear its my best shot to get another lap. Through the esses and entering Turn 11 which leads onto the long back straight my dash is predicting a 2:38.23 which is good enough. But then I’m passed mid straight by the faster in a straight line Solstice and boy he must be heavy because his braking point is way earlier than mine, this coupled with my giving space to not tag him under braking had me give away 0.6s in that one braking zone. But even still I’m on pace to take the pole, which I claim once again with a 2:38.829, almost a second under the track record.
With the P2 Touring 4 car only 4 seconds behind me DriverMonitor showed me he had not improved his lap time on either of those 2 laps where I was able to get back at it. With the track improving lap by lap I knew I was still at risk of losing the pole and DriverMonitor had just updated its flag status banner to bright pink to indicate that the time remaining was less than my best lap time. This was my last chance to improve and defend in improving conditions.
With the Mustang and Solstice well ahead I figured I’d have enough clear track. Well that figuring only lasted 8 corners as I was on their bumper through turns 8 & 9, but they motored away through turn 10 so this could still work. Somewhere between the back straight and the triple apex turns 17 & 18 the Mustang slows, not knowing which way he’s going and him not seeing me until the exit of turn 18 to let me by but now on a compromised entry and a car spun ad stalled blocking the track at the exit of turn 19, my predicted lap time did not show a chance at improving so I dove to the pits. As I sat in the line in impound DriverMonitor continued to display the P2 time which did not improve, so I was on pole, my first Super Tour pole in Touring 4.
DriverMonitor provided key information during the session that allowed me to know what constraints I needed to work around, whether that was how much time was left, what was the precise time to beat or whether my time was holding up. Since I don’t like to be talked to on the radio if the crew can’t see me, since being interrupted in a corner from the braking point to the full throttle point is a horrible concentration breaker for me, and with my main competitor 4s behind me on track DriverMonitor gave me the information 18 corners before my crew would have gotten that info to me. That possibly would have been too late to prepare for another flying lap as best as possible. With DriverMonitor, I was able to know what I was doing! Download the app today and #KnowWhatYoureDoing!