Lime Rock 2008

Lime Rock. Lime Rock was a fantastic race. I thought they did a great job with the track and smoothed it out;it made it really nice to drive.I prefer the original layout, but hey, it was the same for everyone. I hadn’t been there in a prototype before so it was nice to get out there and get down to business. We had a positive week from the time we hit the track; the car was great to drive and we steadily improved the handling. Qualifying was a great experience and a struggle all in one. It was great to lead for most of the session but we just missed the window and put too much air pressure in, so we weren’t able to push for time at the end of the session and two Acuras just nicked us right at the end. Still, it was great to be toward the sharp end of the grid and we knew that we had a good race car.

The start of the race was exciting. My goal was to keep it clean and just protect the car. I knew that traffic was going to be the whole name of the game for the end result. I succeeded in keeping the car absolutely clean and in working order and at the same time I was able lead my whole stint, so mission accomplished. Unfortunately there was a miscue on when the pits were open for our pit stop, but after the fact it didn’t really play into the result because we ended up coming back in for a splash of fuel before the race went back to green on the extended yellow. From there Sascha did a great job of bringing the car back up through the field and we ended up on the podium. The strategy at Lime Rock played out perfectly because we actually ran out of fuel as we crossed the line, so it couldn’t have been judged any closer.

We were able to move up two spots from fifth into a tie for third in the points. So everything was relatively positive at the end, but I’m still just salivating for that first win and I can taste it now. We led a lot of the sessions and the race and we know we’ve got the car and the strategy, so we just need all that to come together. We’re hopeful for the next couple of races that the #6 will be on the top step.

Each time I get in the car it’s a little more effortless and natural. As I gain experience in the program I can trust my instincts and experience more. A lot of that comes down to seat time, but also all the testing we’ve done during the season has been instrumental in my learning how to tune the car the way I want it. Getting that extended amount of time behind the wheel is so important. On a race weekend, it’s tough to get enough driving time. At Lime Rock there were so many yellow flags during practice that it was really hard to get into a rhythm. It was important to be sure that absolutely every lap that you had out there was used to improve the car and that’s what we tried to do.

Coming back to Lime Rock as a track, I like the tight nature of the track and the close racing. My only preference would be to run the original West Bend next year if we come back. I think the new chicane in turn five replacing the uphill is an improvement but they need to widen No-name Straight and run without the West Bend chicane and I think it will be same old Lime Rock with a modern twist. We need a Northeast Grand Prix because it is such a key demographic for our series and the heritage at Lime Rock is something that can’t be ignored in our sport. There are a lot of new, great, flat, safe, long race tracks in the world but I’m one to keep some of the original tracks on the calendar.

The competition is fierce. It’s been known since race one that the Acuras are on their game; they have huge resources both human and technical and they are really spicing up the P2 category. I think it’s a great thing. It’s positive for everyone involved and it certainly has us working as hard as we ever have. These days you’ve got to run a near perfect race for any hope of a podium finish. In saying all that, I wouldn’t want to be in any other car than a Porsche and Penske is the team to run this RS Spyder to its third LMP 2 title in a row!

Now we’re at Mid Ohio. It’s a different kind of track in a way, but in a way it’s not. It will still be a lot about traffic management at Mid Ohio, but there will be some other key things. It’s all about that balance of how much aero to run to create grip but limit drag! Certainly the way the starts have gone at Mid Ohio races over the past years, qualifying will be really key in staying out of trouble on the opening couple of laps. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the whole calendar, so I’m happy to be here and looking forward to the race.