Ten minutes prior to the session the clouds began to roll in, which was a bit of a concern, but I was able to get out on track and put in a hot lap of 1:21.119. It was like fate that just moments after the session concluded it began to rain.
I made my way back to the pits and downloaded the session with our crew chief, Ron Mathis informing him that I was experiencing a major problem with the power steering. The crew began to diagnose the issue and after a closer look it appeared that the location of the return fitting on the power steering reservoir was possibly causing the pump to starve for fluid when I was entering certain turns.
This was causing the power steering to malfunction through the turns (where you really need it) and then come back online once I straightened out (where you don’t need it).
The crew began to remove the reservoir to come up with a pretty simple fix. They cut the smaller -8 A/N return with a larger -10 A/N fitting and slightly changed its location, but when they went to weld it back together it appeared they were having some issues with the welder on our truck and were forced to look for an alternative method.
Amalfi Racing is a well-known local shop that specializes in historic and vintage racecar preparation and fabrication. Mike gave them a call and a gentleman named Klaus Fischer answered the phone and was more than happy to weld the fitting on, so Mike and Ron headed over to Amalfi Racing to complete the fix. About an hour later the guys returned with the reservoir and crew members, Scott Stanwood, Ty Cooley and Eric Plebani worked diligently to get everything put back together prior to the upcoming 6:30pm session. There was no telling if this was going to fix the issue until I was able to get out on track. Needless to say, my fingers were crossed.
For the past two years, I have been using Chicken Hawk Racing’s tire warmers to ensure the tires are as close to operating temperatures as possible when I go out on track. The Fwing 2.0 runs a couple of different tires depending on the rulebook and track location. At Global Time Attack, slicks are permitted in the unlimited classes and a 305/645R18 Continental Tire Extreme Contact DR (R80) is my weapon of choice. At Super Lap Battle the rulebook requires me to run a DOT (non-slick) tire and in these situations, I opt for the Continental Tire/Hoosier 315/30ZR18 in an A6 compound, which is generally a few seconds slower than the slick, but gets the job done nonetheless.
These tire warmers can get the tires up to 220 degrees in less than 45 minutes, which is more than enough time in between sessions to always have a hot set ready for battle. At 6:20pm the boys pulled the warmers off and I made my way to grid but, to our disadvantage, the GTA stewards informed us that due to a crash during the Formula Drift practice session our session would be postponed for up to 15 minutes to clear the debris.