Well some of you may have already heard, I had a proper wreck last Monday.
Unfortunately we were not running any cameras that day so you’re going to have to put up with my written version of it instead! My first draft incorporated some laser beams, velociraptors and Chuck Norris but I have been asked to have them removed from the story for legal reasons. Here comes a very long “race driving excuse”.
Last Monday we headed to Sonoma for a test day to best prepare ourselves for the upcoming Indycar support race. We had been building up the pace slowly in the afternoon, making tweaks to the setup as we went. After leaving the smooth and flat Portland track behind us, Sonoma was in stark contrast with its bumpy surface and huge amounts of undulations. We were running the traditional long course layout for this test day; for the Indycar race weekend we would be running a revised layout with the bustop chicane, slowing us down for turn 10 due to the lack of run off and high speed nature of the turn. However for the test day this layout was not an option. As the afternoon went on, the wind started to pick up and gust making the high speed turns very tricky. The Pro Mazda relies heavily on the wings to generate grip at high speeds. On a slow speed hairpin bend, you typically see lateral accelerations around 1.5-1.7g’s where as the high speed turns are seeing over 3g’s; a huge difference in cornering potential. For the wings to make downforce they require air to be flowing over them. The downforce increases with the square of the speed meaning that the cars can gain or lose significant grip going into a headwind or tailwind respectively.
The wind was aimed so that it was behind me going through turn 10. I am running through turn 10 at about 130mph at the limit of the car, there is not a lot of room for error through there as the turn has a thin strip of dirt runoff and a wall right after. Start of the video shows turn 10 here:
No way near enough runoff room to catch a mistake at the speeds we are travelling. I do however really enjoy the challenge of corners like this, you have to be really accurate with the line and very precise with your inputs. I had been gradually building up to this turn lap after lap; with good tyres on a good day the turn is flat out. However, today we were way off. With the confidence building, I carried an extra bit of speed into there but found my car unwilling to turn, and instead moving to the outside of the bend. I had been caught by a gust of wind which had pushed the car way off the racing line. That initial wind-blown trajectory had pointed me right at the tyre wall, I knew it was going to be bad. With some quick reactions I was able to get the car under some directional control, pointing it further towards the turn exit whilst also getting her slowed a little. Still it wasn’t enough to stop the car running off the side of the circuit mid turn and heading towards the tyre wall. A glancing blow into the barrier brought me to a quick stop with the left hand side of the car very much worse for wear. The way the car contacted the barrier, it had tipped slightly, taken off my wing mirror, marked up the side protection of the tub and had brushed my helmet up against the barrier ever so slightly. I am very glad that I insist on sitting so low in the car as that impact could have been much worse for my head.
I came out of the whole ordeal unscathed, not even a bump or bruise. Just a headache and broken car. I am very grateful for how well all the safety gear had performed. In particular my Takata harness and HANS device, both of those did a great job that day.
With full time day jobs to contend with, time is not on our side for getting the car repaired for the next race. After tallying up the damage it was clear that we would not be ready in time for the end of August. Missing the Sonoma race takes us out of contention for the triple crown and at that point puts us out of contention in both championships. I am sad to announce the RSR team has taken the decision to sit out the rest of 2015 to regroup, repair and refocus on our 2016 efforts.
We are sorry for the inconvenience