Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 7, 2020 11:19:20 GMT
I started drafting race reports when the 1991 season set off. The idea was to blend them into a larger story once the season was over to have someting like a 1991 novel. I however lost appetite for the project about 5 to 6 races into the season and nothing much moved since then.
I have all the replays and broadcasts stored on my HD however, so I may one day pick it up again to finish it. But I do not see that happening in the near future with my current work-load and even if it should, it would still require many months of work.
As I know that there are 2 or 3 of you out there who like these reports, I therefore thought of posting what I already had on the initial races hereunder. I will make a post per race over the following days. Be warned: these are raw drafts that have been barely re-read, let alone got a decent proofreading. There are no pics yet etc. It is, in essence, the raw material as it hit the keyboard in the days following the race and watching the broadcast.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 7, 2020 11:25:48 GMT
R01 – Phoenix – The race of a thousand déjà vu
Another shitty season in another worthless car. That is what the oncoming season looked like to John P. Voigt. Well past his prime now, J.P. had still not managed to get any further than fiddling with shitbox around tracks of uncertain standing. The qualifications session had done nothing to counter the sad premonition. Leaving Voigt dead last on the grid. His best lap was over a second slower than the next to last car, a Leyton House driven by a man called Gianluca D’Esposito.
“How deep can one fall, really?”
Voigt was muttering against an empty bar while gently swaying some dark bronze Coal Ila around the bottom of a hand cut crystal glass. And promptly fell from his stool. How was this guy ever going to help us blur the line between reality and fiction to such a degree that people would swear they were actually in it for real? A thought that was quiet discouraging, this late on a Saturday evening. The screening of the driver elected for our partnership had clearly been all but thorough. But then, that is what you got when you let the responsibility for hiring people slip to the human resources department who barely had an inkling of the product their large corporate employer actually marketed.
Voigt’s, and with that our, only hope to salvage something out of the coming season was the Lotus chassis. You had to hand it to them Hethel boys that even without the Wizzard of Chapman around, they had managed to build a very well balanced chassis.
But the engine, an old V8 Judd EV, was a more than just a bit of a letdown. It had been good enough to allow Brabham and March securing a podium each in the 1989-season; and March, by then renamed into Leyton House, another podium in 1990. But by now, it was hopelessly underpowered. On the long run down Jefferson Street that serves as the Phoenix-circuit’s front straight, almost every other car had effortlessly been sailing past the screaming Lotus.
In the twisty sections, the chassis had however shown to be able of more or less keeping up. Even reclaim some turf. It was on the fast right and left hand sweepers leading on to Washington-street, that the chassis had seemed at its best. The two medium fast turns had been included in the track’s layout only this year, to add some spice to the track. Lucky for us really as it seemed the only spot where the Lotus was able to make up for some lost ground… Only to be ridiculed again on the long sprint along Washington, down to 3rd Avenue.
No way was Voigt ever going to challenge pole-sitter Mikula in his Tyrrell Honda. A front row Pascal shared with David Jaques in a Brabham Yamaha. Now, if only we could have collaborated with a driver of the allure of Jaques. That would certainly have propelled our game to stardom.
Alberto Iquino had secured third spot in the first of the McLarens, carrying a brand new Honda V12 in the rear. Phoenix was actually the first time both Iquino and teammate Bos got to test the new V12-engine. And both were recorded saying that they preferred the old V10 over the new V12. Mikula, who had that old V10 at his disposal, could only laugh.
Next to Iquino was Williams returnee Dave Miller. Miller rejoined Williams after a spell at Ferrari. Nasty gossips had it that he only accepted to return on the absolute condition that he would get number one treatment over Bruno Chacon in the other Williams.
Voigt lined up for the start of the race with a soul of lead. Even if it was highly uncertain whether the cause was the Lotus’ lack of potential or rather the booze of the previous evening.
As the lights went green, Tim Hille’s Modena Lambo in front of Voigt seemed to remain stationary. Even if Voigt had cultivated quiet some patience over the years, this was exaggerated. So, with the entire field already disappearing into a cloud of dust, Voigt pulled out to the left and gained a first place.
Anders Nilsson had somehow power-spun his AGS. It remained a mystery how he managed that as, if there was one car that could be suspected of being down on power from the Lotus, it was the AGS. The Swede ended up smacking his car’s nose in the pit-wall, detaching the front-wing in the process.
In the distance loomed the first turn, where the track bended away from Jefferson Street into 1st Street. We immediately noticed the bits and pieces of cars flying high in the air. Young Iquino, in a charge partially blinded by a fair bit of young exuberance, was caught out by his cold McLaren brakes and shot straight ahead. Right into pole-sitter Pascal Mikula, who was already turning in towards 1st Street.
One always clever without falling in the trap of being a smartass was Jaques. The Canadian had seen the Iquino-Mikula trouble brewing from way ahead and had wisely held back. He had even left room allowing Dave Miller to shoot from 4th on the grid to 1st in turn one. Iquino retired on the spot. Mikula, in a display of some German thoroughness, soldiered on.
Voigt started braking early to avoid all the debris shattered over the track. Then noticed Hille racing towards turn 1 with a head full of steam. Experience was what counts in such a situation and so Voigt moved to the inside line, leaving the ideal line wide open for the Modena. It saved Voigt a rear wing, be it at the cost of again being dead last on track.
All but last actually, as Mikula had rejoined behind and was now pressing.
Nilsson, still without front wing, was very slow through the twisty section while Hille was crafting hesitation and doubt into an artform. Sniffing at the AGS’ back. Having a look left, then right. But omitting to actually pull ahead… Which was the essence of this game. Or not?
Mikula in any case seemed to think so and was now pushing Voigt’s back, slowing all four cars down even further. Nilsson was not helping either, as it remained completely unclear whether he was going to leave room for the unscathed cars behind or would just stick to the racing line. Voigt nevertheless managed to sweep by on the outside through the fast left hander towards Washington Street.
There, Sabre’s Ferrari has just made a pirouette and was now parked in the outside wall. More debris and another spot up. Grant Riddall failed to swerve around the Ferrari and soon was on his way to the pit to have a damaged nosecone replaced. Sabre would do the same but the Brabham nor the Ferrari would ever feel the same again and both retired soon after.
Victor Alcocer utterly missed the entry to Washington Street and ripped the entire front suspension from his Tyrrell. Race over.
Mikula meanwhile pulled ahead of Voight at the end of Washington Street. The German’s rear seemed damaged by the knock received from Iquino. Voigt seemed weary of the Tyrrell and kept a safe distance as the Tyrrell jolted through turns, brushing walls. Hille immediately set of for far horizons. Mikula, the king of young superheroes, was actually slowing Voigt down in his posh Tyrrell. But still stubbornly refused to pit at the end of lap 1.
The Tyrrell stayed pretty much in our boy’s face. Voigt was thinking of spitting at it. But at the speeds reached on Jefferson Street, spit mainly tended to boomerang back into Voigt’s own face. So he quickly resolved to keep his saliva to himself.
The Tyrrell was now really becoming slow, nowhere near able to keep up with Hille in his poor Modena. The number 3 car looked like gibbering jelly relentlessly sliding out of control. The Tyrrell and Lotus headed for the double apex turn 13-14-15, that looped the track back onto Jefferson. Mikula, stubborn as an oaf, again refused to enter the pit and soldiered on. He was making Voigt lose at least 2 seconds through the last complex alone now. And Voigt went from spitting to cursing the German’s tenacity.
Then, out of leftfield, the Tyrrell pulled up to the pit-wall and stopped. Mikula agilely jumped out of the car to spurt straight to the McLaren-box where some serious insults were launched at young Iquino. The Spanish driver humbly muttered some apologies, which was only to his credit really.
Voigt could finally release the shackles on Lotus number 12. Be it with some restraint, as he was still carrying a shit load of fuel.
Miller was leading the pack, with Jaques close behind in 2nd. Behind them followed Wilks in third, Janik in the first of the Minardi’s, Coxon, Kowalski’s Jordan and Jundt in the second Minardi.
If Jaques was hoping to just silently remain behind Miller and let the good old nervous wrecking Jaques’ presence in the mirrors work its magic, he was in for a sour disappointment. Wilks, Janik and Coxon indeed seemed to have other plans.
In front of Voigt, everyone had flown away and the New Yorker had an empty road ahead of him. He even started enjoying the whole thing.
The Judd squealing at the top of its pistons made his ears numb. Full on the brakes he went, just under the Iceberg-board hanging over the track. Gently caressing the steering wheel left-right to keep the car straight. Then plunge for the apex of right hand turn 1, onto 1st Avenue. There were some serious bumps in the road immediately after the turn. Voigt fought like a son-of-a-bitch just to keep the car straight on the left side while already stomping the accelerator down. Then threw the car to the other side of the track to set it up for turn 2.
The Lotus chassis buffeted hard over them cursed bumps. Voigt was even convinced that his wheels took off for short jumps. He felt like that ten-year-old kid all over again, romping down the ice covered stairs in front of his parent’s house on his mother’s ironing board. Convinced that he was firmly in control. When actually, on a track like this, control was even less than the illusion shimmering in an empty bottle of Chasse Spleen. Except if you were privileged enough to go by a name like Coxon or Jaques.
Back to second gear for turn 2; left. Aiming for the apex; brushing the brick wall on the inside. Flat on the throttle again along East Jackson Street. Just for the briefest of stints. And back on the brakes. Throwing the beast left again onto 3rd Avenue. Such a short bit of tarmac… Barely enough for a short stab at the throttle. Making the Judd push out the shortest of shrieks. Like a dame catching a slap on her behinds.
A tighter right hander turned back onto a short rush up to 4th gear. The road on the exit of the turn was pretty bumpy and dosing the accelerator was paramount if you did not want the rear to turn the car around.
Full on the brakes, slightly smoking the tires for the slowest turn of the track. A hairpin leading onto East Jefferson street.
And then was the time to call upon the help of the cojones. Hard acceleration into 4th or even 5th gear through a meek right swerve discharging into a medium fast right hander… A big bump at its exit almost knocked the car out of balance. Then a fast left between two walls… Like aiming a big 747 under the Arc de Triomphe.
Onto Washington street. Shifting up through all the gears. The Judd howled at the moon, sha-la-la, sha-la-la. All that power and nowhere to go.
Braking for the 90° right onto 3rd Avenue… And immediately left on to Adams Street. Short sprint up to 5th Avenue and left we went again as déjà-vu walks in the door. This looks and feels exactly like the section between 1st and 3rd Street at the end of Jefferson Street. Except the Streets have now changed into Avenues.
One last right hander leads into a double apex left hander and there we are back screaming along Jefferson Street. One more lap of Phoenix survived.
Mike Olson had lost his front wing somewhere and understeered straight into the tire barrier on the outside of the fast right sweep towards Washington Street. The Ferrari caught flames and was destroyed beyond recognition. The Scuderia’s day was done.
About ten laps and half into the race and the leaders came up to lap Voigt a first time: Miller, Jaques, Wilks, Janik, Coxon and Jundt flew by. Kowalski’s Jordan had disappeared from the mad equation somewhere.
Things started shifting at the front. Wilks missed his braking at the end of Washington Street and shot straight ahead. He came to a halt in the run-off area without hitting anything. And was able to continue the race, be it down in 6th.
Then, Jaques slid wide in the last double apex turn and hit the fencing. The Canadian continued but his Brabham’s direction seemed damaged.
First Janik went by, then Coxon. Two laps later, Jaques also let Jundt by. It seemed that the Canadian Brabham boy was set for a slow descent towards the bottom of the field.
Voigt was approaching Chapman’s Benetton fast. The Brit seemed to have a problem. As Voigt neared, it even appeared as if he was going to put a lap on the Benetton. Why else were the track marshals frantically waving those blue flags? A Lotus putting a lap on… a Benetton. The old Judd engine outpacing the latest full factory spec Cosworth engine… Now, there was something that could brighten up a day in the world of Voigt.
On the short run along Jackson Street, Mick moved over and waived Voigt by. Always a gentleman, that Mick.
Coxon was now dialing up the pressure on Miller. But Dave was not one easily impressed by such shenanigans.
On lap 24, the rear of Miller’s Williams went very sideways out of the fast left sweep leading onto Washington. Miller lost lots of momentum. It was Coxon’s cue to start pulling alongside on the long run down Washington.
The sheer power of his Renault engine allowed Miller to fend the attack of. But the scent of blood had now firmly nestled in Coxon’s nose and the Steelmekker was not about to give up. The Williams and Dallara rounded turn 9 together, Coxon on the inside, Miller on the outside. But Dave clung on and stayed in the lead.
All through lap 25, Coxon continued showing his front wing to Miller, who was now under a definite form of pressure.
The rear tires of the Williams seemed past their prime and Miller was struggling to hold the Williams straight under acceleration on to the straights.
Out of turn 10, he almost spun. Coxon showed no mercy and grabbed the lead.
The first of the leaders was now approaching our Lotus. Voigt made room. The king of Coxon sailed by. Williams boy Miller thundered by, his Renault V10 screaming like a French girl wearing tight Louboutins.
Janik had run into some trouble somewhere and it was now Jundt’s Minardi following in third.
Then, another Williams showed up in Voigt’s mirrors. Voigt prepared to move aside, but the track marshals kept their blue flags well stored away. The second Williams was Chacon who had succeeded in running a Williams slower than a Lotus… Confusion started settling in Voigt’s mind.
On the long run along Jefferson Street, there was no stopping all the French power behind Chacon.
Then, a second train of faster cars with Wilks and Janik came up to lap both Chacon and Voigt. And a devious plan set in Voigt’s mind. Why not try to slip by Chacon in the wake of that train of cars on the lead lap?
On the short spurt along Jackson Street, Chacon moved to the left, off the racing line, to let the two faster cars through. Voigt, in their slipstream, dully followed suit and pulled alongside the Williams as both cars started braking for the left on to 3rd Street.
Chacon was on to Voigt’s ploy however and tried to defend the inside line. They rounded the turn into 3rd Street side-by-side, Voigt on the outside. To his defence, Voigt made it stick and was now on the inside for the following right turn leading to the hairpin.
The once New Yorker had a much better exit out of the right hander. He regained his position ahead of the Williams and led on route to the hairpin. There even was a slight gap in between the Lotus and the Williams; leaving Chacon in no position to challenge Voigt through the hairpin.
Through the fast sweepers leading onto Washington Street, the Lotus continued pulling away. Amazement dripped from the by-standers faces as they could not understand how the poor Lotus could pull away from that mighty Williams.
Voigt was over the moon. He was putting and keeping his Lotus ahead of a car that was a clear favorite for the final championship spoils. That could only be down to one thing: his mastery behind the wheel of a race car. Should he get his hands on that Williams… He would win each Grand Prix out of the box and probably end up lapping all other cars on track.
By the time they were screaming onto Washington Street, the advantage of the Lotus was such that Chacon could use the power of the Renault-engine to crawl back up to the Lotus’ behind, but lacked the space to make a pass.
The Lotus thus continued to lead the dance through the right-left leading to Adams Street and was back to building a small gap. Voigt seemed well in control for the rest of the lap and was first to head on to Jefferson Street again. He even did so with a slight advantage.
The run along Jefferson Street was however way longer than the one along Washington Street and there was no stopping all that Renault power. Voigt, ever the gentleman, even moved left, leaving Chacon all possible room to make his pass. While as he might as well have stayed somewhere in the middle of the road, making things a lot more challenging for Chacon.
Chacon however showed no intent to display the same level of sportsmanship. He pulled ahead of the Lotus, needing almost the entire stretch of Jefferson Street, and then cut straight back to the left side, almost chopping the Lotus’ nose off.
Voight seemed slightly annoyed by the brutality of the move and decided that an immediate riposte on the short bit of 1st Street between Jefferson and Jackson was the best reply. He applied throttle to eagerly. The back of the car stepped out and the Lotus shot straight across the track towards the Armco. Voigt managed to counter-steer and for a brief while looked like able to keep the car out of the barrier. But then the rear swung the other side around, hitting the railing head-on with the rear right wheel. Wheel and suspension were torn off.
A crippled Lotus hobbled slowly across the track, Voight completely out of control. An oncoming Chapman could not avoid Voigt. One Benetton slammed into a Lotus… Our race was permanently over.
How many times had Marcelo not told Voigt that a racecar driver had, before all, to remain as cool as ice behind the wheel? Everything could be on fire: the engine might be barfing flames of power, the brakes could be glowing red, the tires could be hot as hell… But inside all that heat, one man, the driver, needed to remain as cold as a bucket of ice. And Voigt had failed at that.
One split second of madness to get back at Chacon to soon, and all the work of a weekend was lost.
Voigt had already been running 12th at that point and further progress was far from uncertain. Chacon would eventually finish 6th and there was no way that the Brazilian would have managed to keep the Lotus behind for another 50 or so laps… So what Voigt had effectively thrown to the gust of a mad wimp was our chance at scoring a point. What a waste.
Jaques had by now retired the crippled Brabham. What had started as a brilliant effort ended in the aching silence of retirement.
Miller was also struggling and had been passed by Jundt. Almost haflway into the race and the usual suspects started showing at the front: Coxon, Jundt, … Wilks a bit further down the road.
Miller’s problems only increased and he retired the Williams.
The running order was now the King of Coxon on Dallara, followed by the Minardi pair of Jundt and Janik and the Leyton House of Wilks.
Gabriele del Picolo’s Jordan and Juha Bos’ McLaren were in the two last point paying positions. Just behind them old fox Ray Riddall was however on the look-out to also get the second Dallara in the points. Question of not being to much out of tune with his leading teammate. The Jordan, McLaren and Dallara ran together like the three wagons of a small commuters train from Jefferson to Washington and back to Jefferson.
Just passed the half-way mark, del Picolo dove into the pits for fresh rubber.
Bos and Riddall soldiered on and old Ray was turning up the heat on the McLaren. Bos succumbed to the pressure and spun under braking for the Jackson - 3rd Street corner. Ray Riddall moved up to 5th. The Dallara crew gently started preparations for a small party.
Janik ran into trouble somewhere, leaving Wilks back into 3rd. The not so easily satisfied from Detroit soldiered on in a lonely 4th. Every one of the eight remaining cars seemed to be running on their own for that matter.
Except maybe leader Coxon and closest follower Jundt. There now was what one could call a duel of high quality and near inhuman skill. It looked much like the original yo-yo of sorts. Jundt closed in on Coxon. And the king of Shefield as soon edged away slightly. Then the Minardi would set to reduce the gap again, just to see the Dallara speed up a tad… It was a game of strategy and calculation. Of a difficult balance between restraint and pedal-to-the-metal action.
Bos meanwhile lost the rear of the McLaren while accelerating out of one of Phoenix’ many 90 degree-turns. He hit the concrete bordering the track, ripping the left front wheel and suspension from his car. The field was down to 7 cars.
As of lap 60, with about 20 laps of racing remaining, Jundt went all out and launched what looked like becoming the final blow to Coxon’s lead. The gap between the Dallara and Minardi was shrinking lap after lap, and Jundt soon had it down to almost less than a second. When it comes to keeping a cool head, there are however few who can pretend to be in the same league as Coxon. Some even reported ice crystals trickling from the Steelmekker’s helmet. Whatever be of it, fact was that the advantage of the Dallara over the Minardi stabilized at about one second.
The other Dallara was getting itself into a bit of a mess meanwhile. Riddall the Wiser’s car pulled left under braking, scraping the concrete barriers. He limped back to the pits with a deflated rear tire. Once back on track, the car seemed to have endured more damage then just the tire. Ray pulled some more acrobatics with the Dallara prior to retiring the car. The field was down to 6 runners… Every car still running would score points. Oh Voigt, oh Voigt… Had you only kept your cool?
Jundt could now sniff at Coxon’s rear suspension. An attempt to overtake looked imminent but just as both cars entered the turn 13 to 15 complex, the Swiss branched off into the pits for new tires. Coxon’s lead had never been more solidified.
As the number 23 Minardi left the pits, its number 24 sibling came storming by. Janik had pulled ahead into third as Wilks had an off-track excursion with the Leyton House and was now taking over second from Jundt.
Being from Detroit and therefore obviously hard to satisfy, he immediately dropped a sledgehammer on the accelerator. The Janik Minardi started pulling away from the Jundt Minardi and, to the surprise of many, Jundt did not seem to have an immediate answer ready.
On the contrary even. The Swiss driver made a very beautiful pirouette onto Jackson Street. Katarina Witt would without doubt have handed him a perfect 10, but there on the racetrack, it only allowed Wilks to sneak through and onto the podium.
The thing with Wilks is that one often wonders what the real story is: is he a deadly effective engineer who just drives the toys he so affectionately created? Or is he one of the hot dog drivers who happens to also understand how his car works? Right there and then, it really seemed to be the latter, as the Brit was soon reeling in Janik.
Chacon oversteered the Williams into a tire-wall and retired. It was a real pity for the Brazilian as with his retirement, a championship point vanished.
Coxon was now in an almost unassailable lead. Janik was pretty comfortable behind. Wilks had his wits on him and was giving it everything to get back to Janik, but time was running short.
Behind however, Jundt seemed in trouble. It looked like his new set of tires did not work and the Swiss driven Minardi was almost crawling around the track, lap times nearly 20 seconds down on what he was clocking previously.
That inspired Del Piccolo to go for a last all-out effort to get the Jordan ahead of the Minardi again. The gap closed rapidly but, as it turned out, the race turned out to be one lap short for the Italian.
And so, Coxon won the first race of the season. Janik and Wilks completed the podium. Jundt and Del Piccolo were they only other finishers.
All of the top teams thus failed at scoring points in Phoenix. There were no McLaren’s at the finish, nor was there a Williams or a Ferrari. Was that a sign of things to come? Well, probably not. No one wanted to take anything away from Coxon, but the nature of the Phoenix track undoubtedly helped him overcome the power and handling handicap of his Dallara.
A different story was expected on the traditional racetracks where the better cars would be able to fully benefit from their technical superiority. The top team-drivers were warned however. Coxon and Jundt were on a mission and clod knew that both had the talent to get things moving. Nothing this season would thus be a walk in the park. Even if it was only early days, that much had already been set in stone.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 9, 2020 8:56:29 GMT
R02 – Interlagos – A life without eating
Disappointment comes in many degrees. There is some disappointment when sitting in your best-loved restaurant and having the waitress tell you that you cannot order your favorite carpaccio. Because, supposedly, the kitchen is all out of scallops. This is a relatively digestible kind of disappointment, as you can have the carpaccio the next day.
When that same restaurants goes out of business all together, the disappointment is however of a sharper kind. Forever gone are those lovely summer evenings enjoying a tasty carpaccio that tasted as if it were made for the very Gods.
But things can get even worse. Just imagine a doctor announcing that your stomach has to be removed for unclear medical reasons. Relegating eating to a distant past and reducing food to intravenous substances. That is where disappointment starts searing through veins and nerves like thundering rage. To a point, it becomes near unbearable.
Voigt’s disappointment following Interlagos, had been of the latter kind.
Preparations had started with the usual drama. Voigt initially managed to clock some half decent times. Then realized that he could not run more than 15 laps without blowing one of his front tires. The rubber things ran excessively hot to then just pop like corn kernels in hot oil.
At one point, Voigt stormed back into the pit, parked his car, jumped out of it and yelped that he hung up his helmet for good. It was al a waste of time as the tire temperatures were impossible to handle, claimed the distraught driver.
At that exact moment, the legend of Canada Goose-fame David Jaques appeared as if out of nowhere. His advice was to go for harder tires. And then asked to take Voigt’s car out for a spin. The two Peter’s were rather weary about the prospect of a super champ taking their investment to the limit of its possibilities. Old Marcelo however easily convinced them of the fact that the car was at a lesser risk in the hands of Jaques than in those of Voigt.
And so, the Jaques-man set off in the Lotus.
“Quiet a well balanced set-up,” were his words as he rejoined the pits. To then ask our mechanics to change practically everything on the set-up.
Voigt went back out on Jaques’ set-up. Only to complain about a rear that was unstable and unpredictable.
Jaques, supported by Marcelo, claimed that every setup should have some oversteer in it. Without it, it was bound to be very slow as it would make it unnecessary hard to have the car steer in to turns.
“It’s not that I mind the ass sliding as such,” replied Voigt in that typical slang proper to his Bronx origins, “but why does it have to be so unpredictable? Back in the old days, with them seventies stock cars, the rear was sliding in every turn. But at least it was predictable and controllable. These cursed high down force cars are perfectly planted for 10 laps in a row. And then, on lap 11, the rear just swings out at you without the least hint of a warning.”
“That’s because you focus too much on stability for the rear. If you develop a set-up to act as a dam against oversteer and the oversteer then finally succeeds in overcoming that dam, it will come in like a tsunami breaking the whole dam apart.” Jaques stuck to his need-for-oversteer theory.
“If however,” the Canadian ace continued, “you manage to have your set-up act as a breakwater against the oversteer, it will come in gradually, gently tickling and refreshing your feet at worst.”
That convinced Voigt to give this oversteer misery a try and soon, we seemed on our way to better days. The Yorker gradually knocked second after second from his lap-times.
And all by the end of practice, as he tried the ultra-soft qualification tires, the fool even managed a lap within half a second of that other Lotus-driver, Detroit alien Thika Hakkola.
It would turn out to be the one scarce moment to cherish, the highlight of our week-end. From where, inevitably, things started going downhill. Voigt’s race as such was of such blandness that I can now hardly recall any of it.
There was the start. Hille struggled to get the Modena going and Voigt shot past. He managed to cling to Hakkola’s Lotus and seemed set to win some more places.
Up front, Mikula was experiencing a much smoother debut to the proceedings than in Phoenix. Iquino missed a gear, fell far back and thus was no hindrance for Mikula whatever. The German’s lead through the Senna ‘S’ and the Curva do Sol looked imperial.
Both Alcocer and Riddall the Wiser lost a front wing in the Senna ‘S’.
Voigt got ahead of Alcocer but then found himself stuck behind slowing traffic. Hakkola had already dispensed with that traffic and was now a few cars ahead of Voigt. To add to our distress, Hille was on a faster line through the Curva do Sol and pulled back ahead.
On the Reta Oposta Miller, who was already into second, was using all the power of his Renault V10 to pull alongside of Mikula’s Tyrrell.
An intemperate Mikula went wide and off in the Descida do Lago complex. The whole field, including Voigt, flowed by. Even down in the pit, one could almost hear the German Tyrrell-driver curse his guts out.
Mikula was soon hot on our Lotus’ behinds and Voigt at least had enough senses on him to understand that defending was useless. By the time they negotiated Junção for the first time, Mikula was back in front and pulling away fast.
Riddall the Wiser dove into the pits for a new wing and that earned us one spot up. For now at least…
Miller meanwhile entered the Senna ‘S’ as leader of the race, but by the time he exited Curva do Sol, he was down to third. Both Bos and an amazing Jaques had gone by. Miller was however quick to pull ahead of Jaques again, the Brabham and the Williams rounding almost the entire Ferradura-Laranjinha section side by side.
It remained an amazing performance of Jaques to be running third in a year old Brabham however. And even more surprising was to see the other Brabham of Grant Riddall just behind in fourth. Herbie Blash may have designed a car of doubtful capabilities, he had sure secured himself a very strong driver line up.
In these early stages, it looked as if Voigt would be able to hold on to a distant Hille and maybe even reel the Modena back in. The both of them were now turning in the high 1.27-low 1.28 bracket.
Miller had in the meantime settled Bos’ case and was not only back in the lead, but was edging away and gathering himself a nice gap over the rest of the field. On lap 12, he caught Voigt.
Other fast cars soon followed. Voigt was so anxious to avoid mayhem while being lapped that his times dropped. Laps above 1.30 per lap were no exception.
Some of it even resulted in quiet hairy moments. Like when Janik and Del Piccolo, both in hot pursuit of a possessed Coxon, stormed by together on the main straight. Janik on the inside line. Del Piccolo on the outside line. With the mainly white Lotus looking like cottage cheese in between a Minardi-Jordan sandwich.
Del Piccolo then spun in the Senna ‘S’ just in front of our car, forcing Voigt to evasive action. J.P. avoided the Jordan and kept the car straight but was losing even more time.
Voigt wished he were sitting on a park bench, years away from all this racing. To cut a long story short, he lost his mind. And his rhythm with it.
Hille on the contrary seemed much more at ease with the being lapped game and continued to clock low 1.28’s, even the odd 1.27. The Modena edged away from the Lotus, leaving Voigt to manage a very lonely race.
Then Hille lost the rear of his car through the medium fast Descida do Lago section and obliterated his Modena Lambo into the tire wall. Wreckage was spread all over the track and the young Brit was happy to walk away unscathed.
Mikula was meanwhile fighting his way up through the field and cutting through it like a searing cook’s knife through hot butter. He was already up to 8th and, under braking for the Senna ‘S’, came shooting by both Wilks’ Leyton House and the Brabham of Grant Riddall who had fallen back a bit.
The German Tyrrell-ace then shot wide to the outside of the turn, leaving Riddall back through.
Wilks seemed fazed by all that action and promptly half spun his Leyton House in the middle of the turn. With the track dropping away here, he was largely out of sight for oncoming cars. He seemed to have ample opportunity to slowly turn his car onto the piece of fresh lawn in front of him and turn into the right direction again.
But instead, he power slid his car around in the middle of the track. Then crossed over to the other side of the track, effectively blocking the entire track. An oncoming Sabre had to cut hard over the curbs and the run-off area to avoid mayhem. It was a strange move for one who has a tendency to meet the highest standards.
The Senna ‘S’ would prove to bear more adversity for Sabre. Some laps later, he spun his Ferrari diving into the turn and knocked his front wing off. The Ferrari also incurred suspension damage that proved impossible to repair. Sabre retired.
Jaques, who was running in third and had been hot on Bos’ behind for several laps, pitted for tires and rejoined in fourth.
That let Mikula, who was by now already up to fourth, onto the podium.
It was Bos’ cue to start reeling in Miller. And as the Williams boy came in to get a new rubber, the Belgian McLaren driver effectively grabbed the lead. Finally, he started living up to his position of McLaren numero uno.
Mikula opted to get new tires shortly after Jaques and rejoined in fourth, behind Bos, Miller and Jaques.
Del Piccolo had meanwhile recovered from his earlier spin in the Senna ‘S’ and was fighting his way back to the front. Along the main straight, he came up on Wilks from far behind, braking much later for the Senna ‘S’… and was through.
One lap down the road, Del Piccolo tried to pull a copycat move on Janik. But the Detroiter was barely impressed and kept his position. Gabriele went wide and spun on the outside of the turn. Which left Eddie Jordan cursing at everything bearing a name even scarcely resembling ‘S’.
Motown Brian continued his race hanging back in the sub-top regions. Just as he had done during the entire race, always in a position to grab a point or two and, who knew, if the opportunity arose, even more. The Minardi’s race would however sadly end in retirement as Brian lost control of his car a bit later.
Mikula’s stop had left Bos in a very lonely lead. Where he pushed hard for some more laps before also taking his tire-stop. It was where the Belgian’s race almost ended in tears. As Bos came diving into the pits at very high speed, he found Chacon steering his Williams towards his pit at much lower pace. The Belgian driver only just avoided hitting Williams or pit-wall or both. A tragedy was narrowly avoided but the general feeling remained that Bos’ stop bore an element of recklessness.
Bos’ stop let Miller back in the lead, Jaques back in second and Mikula in third, while as Bos rejoined in fourth.
In lap 41, J.P. decided to pit for tires. He abandoned the medium compounds for softs and was back on his way. It took him a lap or two to accustom to the softs, but once that done, he now suddenly started clocking stable 1.26’s and even the odd 1.25-lap.
But it was all too little too late and there was no way that Voigt would gain any spots than through the demise of others.
Luckily there was ample action elsewhere on the track. Bos had rejoined in fourth but now had an unleashed Coxon hot over his ass. Richard even made it past Bos and took over fourth from the mighty McLaren in his poor Dallara. It was one of those impressive moves that proved how great a driver Coxon really is.
The expression on Ron Dennis’ face was less appreciative of the move and made me think of the face I once saw on Phil Leotardo witnessing John Sacramoni burst out in tears.
Coxon’s race would go downhill from there. Shortly after having conquered fourth, he dove into the pits for a second tire-stop. He rejoined in fifth and was battling his way back up as he lost the car out of turn 8. The Dallara slammed hard into one of the tire-barriers, losing its front wing.
Richard had to pit for repairs, letting Del Piccolo leap into fifth. The Dallara rejoined in sixth, but now had Wilks’ Leyton House envying its position. The Dallara seemed to be very ill-handling and soon Coxon had to concede the last points paying position to Wilks.
Patsy was by now working up quiet a bit of frustration in our Lotus. As Bruno Chacon came up to lap him for the second time, Johnny boy suddenly decided to race the Williams. And to the astonishment of many, even proved faster than the Williams in the twisty infield. Only to find himself with nowhere to go in the Pinheirinho. The fat Lotus slicks bumped with the as fat Williams slicks and for a brief moment, we held our breath… The idiot was not about to take-out a faster car, would he?
But Chacon could continue and easily pulled ahead along the main straight, next time around.
That basically resumed any action Voigt got from this race. He continued cruising around and would eventually take it home in a desperate 12th, solely as the result of others’ bad luck, finishing 5 laps down on the leader.
Indeed, 5 full laps down on the leader… A bloody disgrace it was. One for which Voigt deserved a thorough spanking. Still, at least he finished the race. So some kind of progress had been made.
Meanwhile, Miller was in solemnly boring lead. Second place was however the object of heated discussion between none other than Mikula, who seemed to be coming out on top at this point, and Jaques.
Pascal was clearly faster on the straights. The engine in the back of the Tyrrell might only be last year’s Honda V10, but it still produced a good chunk of power more than the relatively unproven Yamaha in the back of Jackie’s Brabham.
Yet, in the twisty infield, Jaques was all over the Tyrrell. And clearly faster at that. The Canadian had a first look on the run down to Ferradura and even held on for the best part of the turn on the outside. Pascal had the sense to be very protective for the following turn 8, effectively fencing off Jaques’ first attempt.
But this was far from over. Both the Tyrrell and Brabham were on the ragged edge of their worn tires now. And one just needed to ask Joel Goodson about taking a lady for a spin on worn rubber to understand the risky nature of this business.
On some laps, both cars were dealing with the infield in a manner that looked pretty much like a synchronized drift fest.
Then, heading for the penultimate lap, Jaques had is car exactly where he wanted it as they exited Junção. The Brabham was right under the Tyrrell rear wing and now had the pull supplementing the power of its engine on that long start-finish straight. Under braking for the Senna ‘S’, Jaques pulled out on the outside and came alongside.
But there are not that many around that are able to pull tricks on Mikula. The German defended the inside perfectly and stayed in second. The move however proved, once more, that even if Jaques can adhere to an almost undercooled driving style for races in a row, there always looms a giant hot dog racer deep inside of the Canadian.
And that dog was mightily roaring as the Brabham-Tyrrell pair headed for the last lap and the ultimate time through the Senna ‘S’. The Brabham again slipstreamed the lungs out of its cylinders and shot to the outside as the neared the end of the straight. Jaques move seemed better planned and as they started braking, the Brabham had actually pulled ahead of the Tyrrell.
Pascal, who had decisively opted for the inside line along the straight to cover his position into the Senna ‘S’, sensed the danger and now started moving towards the outside. Effectively eating into what was rightfully Jaques’ space.
It was a desperate move from Pascal and one that was therefore bound to end in tears. Pascal ended up slightly bumping into the Brabham. That allowed the Tyrrell to maintain the advantage into the turn. But it had also unsettled the Tyrrell and Pascal spun on the inside of the corner.
Jaques shot away into second and would never relinquish that position.
Miller had meanwhile sealed the deed and taken the win for Frank Williams who looked on as this, really, was the least to expect.
Jaques took a brilliant second for Brabham, which pulled a faint smile on Herbie Blash’s worried face.
Mikula salvaged third and entered the pit cursing and swearing like only a true Berliner can.
Behind Bos came home fourth, which not really improved Ron Dennis’ mood. The McLaren was followed by Del Piccolo in fifth and Wilks in sixth.
Richard Coxon still managed to bring the Dallara home just outside of the points. The Interlagos harvest turned out to be a meagre one for the realm of Coxon. Still, his Phoenix win put him on equal points with Miller at the top of the provisional championship standings. And as Richard had two finishes over Dave, he even kept his claim on the provisional number one spot.
Now that the Williams-Miller combination clearly started clicking, it was probably the combination to put money on for the final spoils. But anyone counting out Coxon and the Dallara could be but a fool.
And Jaques was expected to get his upgraded Brabh for Imola… So everyone expected fireworks really.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 13, 2020 12:36:33 GMT
R03 – Imola – A victory no one seemed to want
The start of the race at Imola was different from other starts, not through the absence of the common off-the-line ruckus, which Imola had in equal amounts as other starts; but because even the warm-up lap was packed with drama.
Mike Olson buried his Ferrari deep in the sand traps on the outside of Rivazza. The Los Angelean driver had been struggling all throughout the warm-up to get some kind of handle on his Ferrari. And the marbles being particularly slippery at Imola did not help him.
More surprising was Lotus’ resident alien Thika Hakkola spinning off at the Acque Mineralli, knocking his front wing off. One could sense Voigt’s incomprehension growing as he stared at Hakkola’s Lotus in his rear view mirror. Which made us wonder what astonished Voigt most: that gaping void where Hakkola’s front wing should be. Or just the mere fact that he was in front of Hakkola on the starting grid. With a lap no less than 3 full seconds faster than Hakkola’s best qualifying effort. Something was wrong here. That much was certain.
At the front of the field, Mikula had captured his third straight pole of the season. David Jaques and Grant Riddall had put their brand new Brabhams BT60Y’s to good use, grabbing second and third on the grid. Koji Nakauchi poured himself another sake and raised it high to the good omens of the last of Joachim Luhti’s ronin, a Canadian and a Brit.
As the flag dropped, Mikula again failed to convert his pole into leading the race and conceded first to Brabham’s Jaques before they even rounded Tosa.
The other Brabham in the hands of Grant Riddal was slower from the start and fell back, leaving Del Piccolo, Bos, Miller and Coxon through.
Things turned even more sour for new Ligier recruit Anders Nilsson. The bulbs in the starting lights were still hot with the last remnants of light dimming, as his Lambo engine bought the farm in a cloud of white smoke. Ray Riddall failed to notice the Ligier’s lack of motion and did a little Hakkola, knocking his front wing off.
In front of Voigt, Hackman was finding it difficult to get his Larousse moving. Voigt managed to round the Larousse on the outside, not entirely without risk. Then found himself stuck behind Riddall’s Dallara negotiating the first left kink very slowly because of the lack of front downforce. Hackman, Hille et all shot back through on the inside. A good starting effort had effectively been ruined.
Out of Tosa for the first time, Voigt was thus once more last of the unscathed cars. With behind him an already impressive string of cars heading for the sick-bay: Hakkola and Riddall, both without front wing, Alcocer battling a rioting Tyrrell and Wattman, who was desperately trying to discern any kind of quality lost on his Footwork…
Mikula seemed set on getting first back as soon as possible. There was not much he could do about the Brabham in front of him in the more twisty return leg of the track, but on the endless flat-out stretch from Traguardo to Tosa, the German set all his demons loose. Time after time, he would melt the Honda-power in the back of his Tyrrell and his low drag settings into something of a diabolical speedball lashing out at Jaques.
But the marbles were working against Pascal. And one could count on Jaques’ wit to keep the ideal line well protected.
In lap three, nothing was to resist the Mikula brewed speedball however. The Tyrrell shot into the lead.
Only for Pascal to mount one of the Variante Alta curbstones high, losing loads of momentum. It was all Jaques needed to get the Brabham back in front.
Voigt was meanwhile not just taking it all lying down. Hackman, Hille and Voigt were running the track like a three man band. And the Lotus actually looked like sniffing for opportunities to grab the lead of that little train.
Hackman bolloxed up his exit of Piratella, which forced Hille to slow a bit. The most incredible thing started unfolding before the world’s eyes. Voigt’s Lotus gently started pulling alongside of the Modena on the run down towards Acque Mineralli. It all looked so well and precisely executed, that surely it was the Lotus getting a will of its own. This could never ever be Voigt’s doing.
As they slowed for and started turning into the chicane, Voigt was actually slightly ahead of the Modena. All voices in the Lotus box cried: “Noooooo!” As everyone knew that it was near impossible to overtake at that spot. Meaning that an oaf like Voigt would never succeed in pulling it off. Luckily however, Hille at least kept his senses on him and left all the room required to allow both cars rounding the chicane and Acque Mineralli.
Still, even if Hille might have earned the accolade of the mature responsible driver, Voigt was leading the Modena.
Some of that seemed to catch on with Hille, as the Dutch driver tried to retort out of Acque Mineralli. But credit to Voigt, once he managed to get the Lotus stable out of the bend and the power of the trusty V8 Judd down, he pulled away and was able to tackle the Variante Alta without second thoughts.
From there, the Lotus actually started to gently inch away from Hille and embarked on a quest for Hackman’s bright colored Larousse Lola.
Jaques was meanwhile still leading Mikula. Behind them, Del Piccolo was running the Jordan third, leading Bos’ McLaren, Miller’s Williams, Coxon’s Dallara and Grant Riddall in the second Brabham. Both the McLaren and the Williams looked keen on getting ahead of the Jordan. But Gabriele’s ability, the quality of the Jordan chassis and an apparently low wing setting allowed the Italian driver to stay ahead of the two powerhouses that were McLaren and Williams.
In the pits, Ron Dennis was seen walking over to Eddie Jordan, suggesting a switch of drivers might be in the books. A fat cheque had never insulted an Irishman before and certainly not Eddie Jordan. While as the McLaren might could allow Del Piccolo’s Italian tempests to really blow some winds of change.
Bos finally managed to get past Del Piccolo and started checking out. But Ron Dennis’ appreciation for the position gained remained extremely scant.
As Voigt was closing in on Hackman, French Tyrrell-prodigy Alcocer was making his way back through the field. The Tyrrell caught Voigt somewhere on the back stretch where the Frenchman lacked the skill to put his Honda-power to use and stayed put behind Voigt.
Once on the endless straight from Traguardo along Tamburello all the way up to Tosa, there was however nothing Voigt could do to keep all that Japanese V10-brio behind. Still, the fashion in which Alcocer finally pulled ahead was relatively aggressive and really not without any risk. Were this an election debate for the vice-presidency, it might have triggered a remark along the lines of: “This was really uncalled for, senator.”
Alcocer passing Voigt allowed Hackman to pull a little gap and J.P. now started munching away at it lap after lap. It only took him about two laps to be back on the Larousse’s behind and the two of them now lapped the track as if held together by a string.
As they rounded Tosa, they both shot past Chapman who was struggling to get his Benetton back out of the kitty litter.
We were again in for a whole lot of emotion on the remainder of that lap. Out of Acque Mineralli, Voigt looked like having way more traction than Hackman and, on the climb up towards Variante Alta, the Lotus pulled up to the side of the Larousse. Even if Voigt had the good inside line, our heartrates neared the point of fatal failure, as Variante Alta is generally considered a tricky place to overtake. And thus really not appropriate for a dunce like Voigt to plan a move.
Still, to our surprise, Voigt again managed to stick to a clean inside line and both Lotus and Larousse made it through Variante Alta without much drama. As they launched onto the descend towards Rivazza, the Lotus was leading the Larousse. And gently pulling away… Seemed like Voigt really had his mind set on ruling the confederacy of San Marino Dunces. And when Hackman went off in the same Variante Alta two laps later, it even looked as we were truly set for Ignatius Reilly’s crown.
But we were far from at the end of our amazement for the day. Barely two laps later, only ten laps into the race, a thing simply inconceivable was about to turn reality: Voigt was actually going to lap a car… The ease with which our Lotus pulled ahead of Wattman’s Footwork along the main straight, really was an indication of what a fishily uncanny affaire current Formula 1 has turned into. If a cart, primitively bolted together in a shed in downtown Hethel and powered by a block carelessly welded together a bit further up the road by John and Jack, managed to flash by the proud result of an army of Herr Doktors strenuously studying throughout long nights of Einstein and Pythagoras in high tech Stuttgart laboratories that easily, you simply knew that it was all just a hustle.
Still, as long as that hustle favored us… Why complain?
Chapman had by now made it out of the Tosa sandpit and had already dispensed with Hille and Hackman.
The Benetton was now on the Lotus’ tail, but in the twisty section, Voigt’s ardor kept the Hethel-cart ahead. As both cars came screaming by the pits, the Lotus still leading the Benetton, they both shot past Bos’ McLaren. Woking’s number one had just spun out of third place, punctured his left rear tire and was now getting new rubber fixed. Del Piccolo’s value was increasing by the minute.
There really was not much Voigt could put up against the might of the factory spec Cosworth in the back of Chapman’s Benetton along the endless flat-out run towards Tosa. Chapman simply pulled ahead and all Voigt could do, was try and catch some slipstream in a vain effort to at least hang on to the Benetton. The rate at which Voigt reduced the gap under braking for Tosa had something of a miracle to it.
The Lotus headed for the twisty return run towards Rivazza in the Benetton’s wake. Towards Variante Alta, Bos, who had his new tires mounted, neared in on the both of them. Which resulted in quiet the image: a Benetton, a Lotus and a McLaren, in that order, heading down towards Rivazza. To those who only just now tuned into the race, it doubtlessly looked like our nimble Hethel cart dicing for the lead with two front runners. The two Peter’s hearts almost burst with joy.
Voigt held his own throughout both the Rivazza’s and the fast right-left Variante Bassa. Then, under braking for the Traguardo, even looked as if having a peep at the Benetton.
Once back on the long straight though, all his efforts proved pointless as the Benetton’s power allowed Chapman to easily pull away, while Bos’ Honda V12 screeched by the Lotus as if it were a rolling chicane.
Mikula had meanwhile made it back past Jaques and started pulling away.
Behind, Bos’ spin had let Del Piccolo back into third. The Italian now had Dave Miller’s Williams behind him. The Williams made it past the Jordan, then made a small error and had to concede third back to the Jordan.
Behind those two, Riddall the Faster was on Coxon’s tail. The Brabham pulled ahead on the main straight, then went wide into the Traguardo and conceded fifth back to Coxon. But this was going to be all but an easy ride for the Steelmekker with that constant Brabham threat looming in his mirrors.
And there was more action on the track. Wilks, who had started way down the field, had made it back to 9th and was now giving Brian Janik a run for his money.
We also shared in the fun. Our alien number one driver Thika Hakkola was closing in on Voigt. And in his wake followed the first of the leaders: a fiery Mikula leading a calculating Jaques.
The Detrozilian let the two leaders through. It only took them a few seconds to descend down onto Voigt with a rage that was barely contained. All the way from Acque Mineralli up to the Traguardo, the deafening sound of screeching Yamaha and thundering Honda invaded Voigt’s cockpit. But J.P. held his cool. Out of the Traguardo, he threw the Lotus to the right of the track, leaving the fast lane on the left wide open for Mikula and Jaques.
That put Hakkola straight into Voigt’s wake. The number 12 Lotus managed to stay in front past Tosa and the two Loti now started sweeping back towards Rivazza as a gentle pair of team-players.
Hakkola’s Lotus looked faster on the short stretches of straight, but he each time came just a tad short in the braking zones to have a real go.
On the long run from Traguardo to Tosa, there was however nothing left for Voigt to do. The second Lotus pulled ahead around the outside of Voigt’s car. The speed difference was such that there was no stopping Hakkola’s car.
Voigt had complained about that speed difference between the two Loti during practice, claiming that Hakkola’s engine had more power. Only to demand being handed the same. It had taken the entire team quiet some effort to convince Voigt that the difference was not down to engine power but to Hakkola running less wing.
Then Voigt had asked for his wings to be lowered to the same level as those of Hakkola. It had taken the team even more effort to get that idea out of his mind. Running less wing to compensate for the poor Judd’s lack of power was all very well. But one needed the skill of a Hakkola to counter the resulting lack of downforce. And Voigt simple did not have that skill. But go explain that to a pedantic fool à la Jon Patrich Voigt.
Voigt now had Grant Riddall’s Brabham coming up to lap him. In the Brabham’s immediate trail followed Riddall the Wiser’s Dallara. Ray was making up for lost ground after he had his front wing replaced on lap 1. Voigt was in for a round of Brallara blabbermouthing.
Voigt made sure to make room for the younger of the two Riddalls on the run to Variante Alta and just barely avoided the trap of the Riddall riddle. It was again the agility of the Lotus that allowed keeping old Ray’s Dallara behind on the twisty return leg towards the pit-straight.
On that straight, Riddall the Wiser needed all the power of his new generation Judd to pull ahead of the Lotus. Voigt even let himself be lured into some rather childish attempts at retorting under braking for Tosa. Once on the ascent towards Piratella, the Dallare however started to steadily disappear into the distance.
Voigt tried to hang on but his tires seemed well past their best now and, accelerating out of the Traguardo, the rear suddenly slung outwards, pointing the car straight towards the pit-wall. One sharp reflex from Voigt sufficed to avoid hitting the wall and the Lotus continued its merry way. Be it at reduced allure for a couple of turns to allow the tires to settle to a more regular operating temperature.
With all that, Riddall’s Dallara had flown. And after a first action packed 20 laps, the race was now settling to a common pattern. Voigt was running very much by himself, with only the occasional lead lap car pulling up to lap us. And to boot, the Lotus was dead last of the still running cars.
Through the open windows of some apartment in nearby Imola, a radio sounded: “And somewhere a man cries for his love. A love that is lost, that withered too soon. With all of his hope buried inside, somewhere. Shouldn’t have to be like that.” But it was the only the way it had been this season so far.
Sabre exited the pits and soon destroyed his Ferrari against the tire-wall bordering the sand traps on the outside of Piratella. Voigt moved one spot up, but still remained dead last of those running.
Both Chacon in the Williams and Chapman in the Benetton headed to the pit for new tires. Voigt moved ahead of them. What had this man called Per been singing again, just five minutes ago?
Jaques had by now seen enough of the Tyrrell’s behind to understand that Mikula’s tires were far past their prime. In Jaques’ language that translated into something along the lines of: now there is a window of opportunity to good to pass over. So out of the Traguardo, the Canadian set up his Brabham to get a perfect tow from the Tyrrell. It procured enough of a head of steam to pull alongside out of the Tamburello. It put the Canadian on a delicate outside line for Villeneuve. But a Jaques at the top of his might is not set off by such trivialities. So David Jaques stuck with it and snatched the lead from a slightly baffled Mikula through Tosa.
The move seemed to put Pascal in one of his red mist moods as he nearly lost the car under acceleration out of Tosa. Then went partially of the track through Piratella. Only to follow it up with quiet an unruly way of tackling Acque Mineralli.
All it yielded for the German was Jaques edging away. Pascal then seemed to get back to his senses and settled in a steady rhythm, always keeping the leading Brabham well in sight.
Just before the half way marker, Jaques stormed into the pits to get his car shot with fresh rubber. Most commentators expected Mikula to follow suit, but the German instead continued for another lap. And lady Luck seemed to be on the Tyrrell-driver’s side, handing him a free track for the entire lap; allowing Pascal to put in a scorching fast time before diving into the pits.
Just as a pressured Mikula was leaving his pit stall, Voigt was bending of towards the Lotus stand for a set of fresh D-compound rubbers. The Tyrrell nearly ripped the nose from the Lotus. That Mikula had talent for sure but someone should really mind him to take down a liter or twenty of ice cooled water before starting a race.
Pascal nevertheless stormed out of the pit in front of Jaques’ Brabham. The lead had changed hands once more.
Only for Mikula to go very wide in Piratella, letting Jaques back into the lead. Maybe merely drinking iced water might not be sufficient for the ones like Mikula. And only spending the entire night preceding a race in an ice cube filled bath would do the trick, I thought. Anyway, our nose had nearly been bitten of for not much result at all.
Chacon flashed by as the Lotus team were frantically bolting new wheels onto the 102B. And just as Voigt stormed out of the pit, Chapman’s flashy Benetton pulled ahead. Dead last of the running cars again. If ever proof was needed that one should never rely on the babbling of a Norwegian pop band, then there it was.
The situation was about to be shuffled once more however. As Chapman started braking for the Acque Mineralli, the left side of his car went on the grass and shot straight ahead; into the tire barrier. Knocking of a wheel. Race over. Voigt chuckled. Which was really not that nice, as this was really bad karma for poor Mick. But then again, when driving a Lotus, other’s bad karma was really the only good karma you could hope for. And there was to be more bad karma for the others… Tons of it.
At the front, things seemed to settle down a bit. Jaques was leading Mikula with something of a nerve calming cushion in between them.
Behind the two leaders, the battle for third was however venturing into new dimensions of lunacy. Grant Riddall seemed to have found his sweet spot in the Brabham and was running fourth, but with a real eye out for Coxon’s third. Grant was throwing all his ebullient and manic speed at Richard, who reacted with the legendary Coxon-cool. It really looked like Alberto Tomba bringing on the heat on Garry Kasparov.
Grant would come shooting out of the Dallara’s shadow on the run to Tosa; his Brabham shaking and squirming to pull alongside on the inside line. The left wheels of the Brabham ended up on the grass, Grant fighting to get some elusive grip. It reminded everyone of that massive torso throwing itself through those spring-loaded ski-gates in Sestriere. Knocking them down with a vigor seldom seen before on the Alpine slopes.
And all the while Richard Kasparov sat in his Dallara, already three moves ahead of the Brabham. Visualizing the Brabham overshooting Tosa before it even started braking. Leaving it all the inside space required to do so and then simply diving into the empty apex of the turn, moving ahead again. Those who turn Grandmaster at barely age seventeen obviously know a trick or two about strategy.
On the next lap, there was Grant Tomba charging again, now even ending up entirely on the grass. We could almost hear Giorgio d’Urbano cheering him on from all the way up in Madonna di Campiglio: “You are the new messiah of Formula 1!”
But those who managed to sustain the strain of the world’s attention for 48 straight games at the tender age of 19, do not succumb to stress that easily. And so Garry Coxon again stayed ahead.
The one dealing the pressure less well was actually Grant Riddall who started falling back and looked like preparing for his very own Val-d-’Isère. As the world would once learn, it would indeed require something christened Deep Blue to get the better of Richard Kasparov.
The Imola track is generally considered to be hard on engines. But it is, as a matter of fact, even harder on the brakes. They come under strenuous pressure a first time at Tosa. Where all that mass of chassis and engine needs to be slowed from close to or past 300 km/h to about 120 km/h in the space of merely 50 meters. Then, there is more heavy braking for Acque Mineralli and the Variante Alta. To have the brakes work real overtime under braking for the first Rivazza. Nelson Piquet once claimed that the surface is so bumpy there, that one’s eyeballs roll away in their sockets, leaving the driver blinded for just a fraction of time.
Grant “Maximus” Riddall was the first one to experience how hard the brakes were put to the test at Imola. He approached Piratella with well over 200 on the speedometer, only to find the Brabham brakeless. The car slammed into oblivion.
Voigt’s race was now heading for the usual bland turning of laps around the block. Every car behind him had abandoned. And the nearest car ahead was far out of reach.
The only occasional diversions were faster cars coming up to lap voiding Voigt. Some of them displayed the patience and care that one could expect at the speeds reached at a fast track like Imola. Others obviously did not.
Jundt nearly took the Lotus out when he insisted to pull ahead on the short straight leading to the very fast Variante Bassa. A combination called a chicane but that was rather a fast right-left sweeper; the kind where racing cars could really only adopt one line.
Some laps later, Coxon was tempted to a similar intemperate move approaching the very same Variante Bassa. Which was kind of a surprise because few heads prevailed over the King’s when it came down to racing aloofness. The Dallara on the inside forced Voigt to cut straight over the infield at the Variante Bassa. The infield was luckily largely surfaced with concrete, allowing the Lotus to rejoin the track without visible damage.
Leader Jaques was about to get a though lesson on fading brakes at exactly the same spot where his teammate had gone off earlier. David smacked hard into the Piratella tires. The car lost both its wings and a rear wheel, leaving Jaques not much other options but to retire from what had looked like a certain victory.
The retirement of the last of the Brabhams handed a comfortable lead to Mikula in his Tyrrell. Pascal’s wildest dreams about cruising home to a certain victory started materializing. Were it not that his zeal got the better of Pascal. He exited Tamburello wide and ended up on the marbles. The Tyrrell shot straight ahead and disintegrated against the wall bordering the Santerno river.
Young Iquino, battling for an excellent points finish, came up to lap Voigt. The young driver was so impatient to get ahead, that he drove straight into the Lotus’ rear under braking for the second Rivazza. The Lotus rear left suspension was touched and the car felt a tad nervous for some laps. Then settled again and allowed Voigt to continue… Be it only after some solid Bronx curses.
Chacon dove into the pits with fading brakes. Only to find the Williams crew unable to solve the issue. Bruno continued and deserved the award for perseverance of the weekend, eventually finishing the race without any brakes at all.
It allowed Voigt to pull ahead of the Williams. And even putting some laps on it.
Jaques’ misfortune and Mikula’s intemperance had handed the lead to the King of stalemate, Richard Coxon. The Dallara was far from cruising to an easy victory though. A resurgent Del Picollo was closing the gap to Coxon rapidly and everyone was expecting a show-down for the final spoils in the closing laps.
Del Picollo’s brakes had however also seen their best day and, with barely 5 laps remaining, the Jordan shot straight ahead in the Rivazza. As Gabriele hit the tires, his Ford engine flamed out. It was maybe the most cruel of sorts at the Imola race, seeing a certain second spot and a possibly victory vanish so close to the finish.
Coxon could now cruise home to grab a second victory of the season. Wilks came home second. The two Minardi’s, Jundt leading Janik, finished third and fourth. Victor Alcocer grabbed fifth for Tyrrell and Thika Hakkola even got our Lotus team a point.
The Lotus brakes, whose task was obviously a lot lighter then others with only the meek Judd power to slow, went the full nine yards. And Voigt scored his first top 10 of the season. Bringing it home 9th, 3 laps down on the leader… But not last of the cars finishing the race, courtesy of Bruno Chacon.
Heading to Monaco, Coxon enjoyed a crushing lead in the provisional standings. And Monaco might well be the track where the Kasparov sense for strategy may be more valuable then anywhere else.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 15, 2020 7:44:04 GMT
R04 – Monaco
If there is one Grand Prix track on the calendar that never disappoints, it is Monaco. The Lotus team arrived here with low expectations. Yet, Voigt managed to deliver even less.
For starters, he managed to completely miss the qualification session. On the morning of qualification day, he suddenly needed to fetch something from a store in Nice. The store owner took so much time in getting the goods ready and the invoice settled, that Voigt basically left the shop as in Monte-Carlo, the first cars were streaming onto the track. And by the time he finally made it back to Monaco, the flagman was already busy flagging the session off.
And so what? So I start dead last on the grid. Why on earth do they have to be so displeased with that? The very first time I ever set food in this godforsaken place, she had been here. And to escape all the attention, we took a jaunt to Nice. Where I bougth here a pair of pumps at the local Chanel-store. Cost me a fortune, those things. But the sparkle in those eyes.
Since that day, whenever at Monaco, I escape for a short while to Nice, to buy something at the local Chanel-store. A gift to no one in particular. An offering to the ever dwindling belief that maybe on day, things would be alright again.
I can’t stand spending five days on a row in Monaco anyway. This is not a Grand Prix. It’s just showing off motorsport’s finest to the greedy eyes of heavily pimped beldames, all convinced that money could buy them eternal youth. The honor to be gained by doing well in this racing masquerade is scant at best.
So where lies the problem in starting last? I know that my car, even if slow, has a stable set-up and this being Monaco, being there at the end of the race will be way more important than whatever position on the starting grid.
The race had barely started, as my theory already seemed to materialize. Alcocer again failed to get away, blocking everyone behind him.
Being last on the grid, it was an easy job to just switch lines. And there I was, storming down towards St Devote in the wake of Wilks’ Leyton House. Shooting past at least three other cars. This was smelling good.
Just around the St Devote-corner, Janik’s Minardi is on fire… Engine blown, race over. My alien teammate Hakkola seems to have run into the Minardi somehow, as he is very slow up the hill. As is Olsen in the Ferrari… One turn, and I’m already up into seventeenth. I like this race.
I start following Wilks who is quicker and pulls a slight gap. However, the both of us close in on Chacon’s Williams at an astonishing rate. That slows Wilks back down and I am right back up to his rear wing.
On lap 2, Wilks has a look at Chacon into Mirabeau. I hold back, fearing imminent disaster, but all goes well.
On lap 3, Wilks makes the thing stick and is ahead of the Williams. He immediately starts pulling away.
My turn to have a go at Bruno. Between Tabac and La Rascasse, all through the Piscine section, I am almost crawling up his exhausts. Then, out of Rascasse, the Renault power pulls the Williams away, and I am to far back, to make a move at St Devote.
Under braking for and through the St Devote corner, I close the gap straight back down, only to see the Williams pull away again up the hill. Then I near through the sweepers around Massenet and the Casino. Then, on the short descend to Mirabeau, the Williams escapes again.
The both of us now dive onto Hille’s Modena like a pair of voracious hawks ready to skin this blue mouse. Both Chacon and I are clearly quicker, but this is Monaco… So where do we pass?
At Mirabeau, just as master Wilks has shown us some laps earlier. On lap 7, I pull all the way alongside up to Bruno under braking for the lefthander. My front wheels are past his car… This is my turn. But the Brazilian does his obstinate reputation honor and almost shoves me into the inside wall. It’s only my wits that avoid us having an accident.
I tuck in under the Williams rear wing for the entire run through the Tunnel down to the Chicane. But not even that kind of draft suffices to compensate for the massive power difference between the Renault and the Judd… And to add to my woes, a resurgent Alcocer is now on my back. The Frenchman may not have Renault-power, but that Honda in the back of his car still has way more grunt than my bloody Judd.
Hille, Chacon, me and Alcocer… We now tear through the streets of Monaco like a high speed train on acid… “Do be careful,” some merry pranksters cheer us on. Hille slows the lot of us down. He feels like 10 seconds a lap slower than what we could go.
On lap 9, Chacon slingshots passed Hille through the Massenet sweeper. Hille is caught off guard and looses buckets of momentum on the run to Mirabeau. I know I’m too far back but still… a hole beckons. So, I go for it. Only to see the Modena close it down clumsily. Into Loews, Hille’s braking surprises me. We touch slightly and Alcocer in turn bumps into me. No harm done.
But Alcocer now pulls alongside on my left on the run to Portier. I’m on the inside, so I’ll defend. No way in hell that that little cheeseball is going to pull one on me. We round the first left hander side-by-side. I’m still on the inside for the second part of Portier. Still good… But I need to get in front of him before the exit of Portier… If he is alongside me for the run through the Tunnel, I will be a sitting duck with all that Honda power in the hands of the French kid.
I stomp the accelerator down to make sure to pull ahead before the second part of Portier…
Voigt’s pot not being very impressive, it obviously overcooked. He hit the accelerator way to aggressively in Portier. The car swung to the inside, the left front hitting a barrier hard. Hard enough anyhow to knock a wheel off. Barely 9 laps into the race and we were already one car down. And that a track where we could really use all the data we could get our hands on.
Wilks was meanwhile already up to 11th and was working on ruining Sabre’s day.
Up front, Mikula had finally managed to convert pole, his 4th in a row, into a solid lead. He had already secured a small gap over Miller, who had taken most of the top boys by surprise by shooting from 5th passed three cars to exit St Devote in a solid 2nd.
He now faced the wrath of a certain Coxon however. The Steelmekker was looking left, right and under Miller’s car for a way past. On the run through the Tunnel, he looked like trying something, then thought the better of it. Through the Piscine, the Dallare dodged left, just to avoid hitting the Williams. Such was the difference in speed.
And whole the while, Coxon saw Mikula extend his lead. If circumstances ever required the brain of a chess master, these were them.
Hakkola had meanwhile stealthily positioned himself behind Jaques. And as the Canadian was lapping slower cars, Thika sneakily went buy in his wake.
Coxon was still trying everything to get passed Miller. The Dallara’s purchase out of Portier seemed much better than the Williams’. As they entered the Tunnel, Coxon pulled alongside Miller, but then the sheer power of the Renault dragged Miller to safer places.
Some more Dallara intimidation was thrown at the Williams into Rascasse. But Coxon also had an increasing urge to watch his back as Del Piccolo was nearing rapidly. And all the while, Mikula was consolidating a lead that was already impressive.
Iquino lost the rear of his McLaren entering the Piscine section, reducing his car to a smoking heap of mangled metal.
The second to fifth placed cars were in for some straining laps. On lap 25, Coxon had a look at Miller’s second under braking for Loews. The move turned sour, the Williams and Dallara tangling wheels and almost coming to a stop. Del Picollo did not hesitate one second and moved into third, relegating Coxon to fourth. Gabriele’s third was however not to last… Barely a quarter of lap down the road, Coxon retook his third into Rascasse.
Del Picollo now had Jaques up his rear. As they both speeded out of St Devote, they found Chacon in front of them. Del Picollo hesitated and lifted for a split second. Jaques was too late on the brakes and knocked his front wing of against Del Picollo’s rear. The Brabham then stubbornly refused to mount a new wing, sending Jaques back out with downforce on his front wheels. Even an outsider noticed that the Brabham was behaving like a bitch… And so the Canadian jumped back into the pits, to finally get a new front wing.
On lap 27, Miller finally succumbed to Coxon’s pressure. The Williams spun entering the second right left sweeper around the Piscine… And knocked a front wheel off. Miller’s day was done. Coxon had a wide open road in front of him. And at the end of that road beckoned the lead…
Del Picollo pitted for tires. Combined to Miller’s demise and Jaques’ double visit to the pits, that let the second Dallara, with Ray Riddall behind the wheel, into third and Anders Nilsson into fourth with his Ligier.
Anders seemed a tad faster, but in a place like Monaco that was all but a guarantee to get ahead. Del Picollo, now on fresh tires, was moreover closing the gap back down fast and soon Anders had to watch his back.
Behind, Thikka Hakola had reeled in Sabre’s Ferrari and was now almost sniffing at the Ferrari’s back. The damage incurred in the opening laps was however to get the better from Hakola and he retired some laps later.
Sabre’s luck was not much better. He had a strange incident in Loews when Mikula lapped him. The Ferrari looked like a bitch to handle after that and David entered the pits. Only to spin out and crash heavily at Mirabeau. Around the halfway mark, the field was down to 10 cars.
Ray Riddall meanwhile came in for fresh rubber. Which let Nilsson into third and Del Picollo into fourth. The Italian Jordan driver now had the scent of podium in his nostrils and intensified his efforts to get ahead. Out of Portier, he managed to have much better purchase and pulled alongside on the run to the Nouvelle Chicane. Then pulled a textbook example of passing under braking for the chicane. The Jordan was in third and soon started pulling away.
Around lap 40, leader Mikula made a stop for new tires. His lead at that point was such, that he still held the top position as he rejoined. But Coxon now was a mere three seconds behind. And closing in.
As they neared lap 50, Pascal was suddenly going much slower than previous laps. While as Coxon was clocking his fastest laps. The Dallara caught the Tyrrell and everyone was rejoicing with the prospect of a good end-of-the-race scrape. The Tyrrell however seemed in real trouble, as Coxon easily pulled ahead between the Piscine and Rascasse. Then pulled away.
Mikula was down to second. And had to start worrying about Del Picollo’s Jordan who was closing in fast.
It already felt like summertime in Monaco, and somewhere someone had been eavesdropping on the radiocommunication between Mikula and the Tyrrell-team. That had the rumor running that Mikula was suffering from rear suspension damage and was struggling with the car. It showed, as Coxon’s advantage over the Tyrrell was already close to 15 seconds.
The other Tyrrell driver, Victor Alcocer, then decided to make somewhat of an oaf of himself. He spun his car out of the chicane and knocked his front wing off and so Victor decided to rejoin the pit. So far so good. This things just are part of the game around Monaco.
But while rejoining the pits, the fool decided to move ahead of poor Bruno Chacon around the Piscine instead of abiding his time. With the reduced handling of his Tyrrell the pass went very awkward and nearly ended both their races. Standing in Bruno’s shoes, I would have all but impressed.
Everyone obviously had been knowing for a long time that patience was not a threat to be found in either of the Tyrrell-drivers. But it seemed worse than just a lack of patience. At Monaco, one started getting the profound impression that both Tyrrell-drivers were thoroughly convinced of the fact that the entire track belonged to them and them alone. And every other driver was to make way for their progression.
The world was soon to witness another bitter sample of that threat.
Mikula now seemed to have found a way of driving his Tyrrell that allowed overcoming the handicap of his damaged rear suspension. At the same time, Coxon seemed to have taken the best out of his tires and was now running about 2 seconds a lap slower than what was previously the case. With about 15 laps remaining, we seemed to be having a race on our hands again.
It did not take Mikula long to reduce the gap to Coxon to less than 3 seconds and, with about 10 laps to go, these two would be racing for the final spoils. But then, this was Monaco, and reeling in a car and passing it where two entirely different propositions all together.
For a long period preceding the Monaco Grand Prix, people from the FIA, the Tyrrell-team and even some members of the united press had invested quiet some effort in convincing Pascal to maintain a more even strain on track. Explaining that, with his driving abilities, a cooler head would only benefit him.
As soon as the occasion presented itself at Monaco, Pascal however made it cause of principle to clearly establish that all those efforts had been in vain.
As the Dallara and Tyrrell stormed up the hill towards Massenet in close company for the first time, Mikula threw all caution and well meant pointers to the wind and immediately tried to brutally muscle his way passed Coxon. From the get-go, it was clear that Pascal was not going to take prisoners and that we were all in for an ugly bit of unsportsmanlike behavior.
Coxon shielded Mikula’s first attempt through Massenet of. Only to be under attack into Mirabeau and Loews, even taking hits on his car.
If there ever was one driver who grasped that cooler heads often prevail, it was Coxon. And the Steelmekker calmly carried on with his business… which still was leading the race.
On the next lap, Mikula was all over Coxon again into the Loews and Portier. But al he managed was squander a good entry into the Tunnel, allowing Coxon to pull a sufficient gap to stay ahead on the one spot where Mikula would have his best shot. As ofter, it seemed that Mikula lost all sense of reason and was just charging like a loose cannon.
One could now sense that Mikula was working up one of his moods. And from experience, we all knew that all bets would be off. That Mikula, with German thoroughness, would be convinced that all the right was on his side and all the wrongdoing the other driver’s responsibility. Which, if that other driver is someone with a reputation for fairness and sportsmanship like Coxon’s, is really rather short-sighted.
Still, for all the German blood in his veins, once worked up, Pascal rather resembles a Spanish bull seeing only red fabric.
Next time into Loews, Pascal threw every inch of restraint to the wind and basically just dive-bombed into the Dallara. Mikula’s driving was now so obnoxious that it even managed to upset Coxon, normally the voice of reason itself. Into Poitiers, Coxon defended with bitter ardor and the cars again bumped each other. It was nothing short of a miracle that both of them managed to escape those incidents without damage.
For all his aggressiveness, Mikula had again only succeeded in cocking up his run towards the Tunnel. Any form of reason has now however deserted Pascal, so he set his mind on overtaking on the outside of the Nouvelle Chicane. Which resulted in the Dallara and the Tyrrell taking even more battering. Again, it was only luck that kept both cars out of harm’s way.
Mikula exited the Chicane in the lead through… But no other driver would ever want to conquer a lead in such deplorable fashion. And the sympathy for Coxon around the track could now almost be seized.
Getting ahead of Coxon is one thing. Staying ahead of Sheffield’s finest is a whole other. Coxon now seemed glued to the rear of the Tyrrell. In the technical sections of the track, Piscine-Rascasse and Loews-Poitiers, where driving ability mattered, he was clearly lightyears faster than Mikula. But on the faster sections of the track, where engine power mattered, Mikula’s Honda prevailed.
They closed up to Chacon to lap him. Bruno was a perfect gentleman, almost parking his Williams in the Loews parking to make room. Same story as they neared Nilsson, who left all the room the two gamecocks required.
Meanwhile, Gabriele del Piccolo crashed his car out and lost out on almost podium spot. Third now incredibly went to Nilsson in the leaden-footed Ligier.
On the last lap of the race, Coxon managed to stick his nose almost level with the Tyrrell on the exit of Poitiers. But on the run through the Tunnel, the Honda-power was just too much to keep up.
Richard was now trying everything he had and bumped into the barriers around Piscine hard, bending his car. He was lucky to salvage second.
The Tyrrell-Honda was left to win the race at Monaco. This was clearly a victory of a machine, the brilliant Honda-engine, over a man, the magnificent Coxon.
Testimony to Coxon’s greatness could be found in the provisional championship standings where Richard still had a massive 12-points lead over the Honda-engine. General expectation was that this might turn into a battle for the championship.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 15, 2020 9:52:49 GMT
R05 - Montreal
Sometimes, things in life seem to work out perfectly.
By 1977, the Formula 1 fraternity had come to consider Mosport, up to that point the regular venue for the Canadian Grand Prix, as to dangerous for Formula 1. Around the same time, the city of Montreal discovered that it would not require much effort to create a racing circuit using the public roads around Notre Dame Island. The Quebecois were moreover tempted by the idea that upcoming local boy called Gilles Villeneuve might one day practically race at home.
In 1976, the previously unheard of Villeneuve had trashed established Formula 1-names like Jones and Hunt in that year’s Formula Atlantic Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. It created sufficient buzz on the other side of the pont for Enzo Ferrari to call Villeneuve when, a good year later, he needed a replacement for Lauda.
Post by Timo Vermeersch on Sept 15, 2020 10:00:20 GMT
As the Montreal-report, or at least up to where I got it, indicates, this is were the appetite and inspiration started running scarce. The above short bit is as far as I got and thus will be the last part I post.
Only thing left is to say goodbye and wish you well. As they say in French: "bon vent!"
I joined HSO in 2009, more than 10 years ago. With more and less active stints, it has been a memorable ride to say the least.
Over the last months, it has however become clear that I no longer fit in and some rather prefer to see me go. Those things happen, such is life.
So take care and good racing.
Maybe, we will meet on a virtual track somewhere someday.