Driver Blog: Duncan Ende, The Streets of Long Beach


Now THIS is more like it. Unfortunately the rain came back for qualifying, and as a result, the session was abandoned by the ALMS. We would line up at the back of the PC field as a result.

This year the race proved to be slightly more challenging than usual as an uncharacteristic rainstorm came through on Friday, rendering the practice session nearly irrelevant for the race, as clear skies were projected for Saturday. This made practice, to say the least, an interesting affair, as it was the first time I had, a. driven the track in the PC car, b. driven the track in the rain, and c. driven the PC car in the rain! Concrete canyons are not the first place anybody wants to get acquainted with a racecar in the rain for the first time, but since qualifying was likely to be wet as well, there was nothing to be done but make the best of the situation and (carefully) learn all we could.

We were able to entertain a lot of guests from our sponsors, including Freescale, Hewlett Packard, Pounce Consulting, and Racer's Roast. Here, Henri helps a guest try on our Oreca FLM09.

After making it through practice in one piece, it was a long day of trying to stay dry as the rain poured down outside (complete with lightning, which is a rarity out here, and not ideal when you are in a jungle of metal fencing and grandstands) as we waited for qualifying to roll around. Surprisingly, when qualifying finally did commence, the track was actually pretty dry; only with a slight problem, as it was only dry for the first class to qualifying, the GTC cars. As soon as the GT class rolled out for their qualifying session, the rain reappeared, resulting in a fast time some 6 seconds off of the GTC pole time. Since the rain was not about to vanish in time for the PC and P1/P2 sessions to run in the dry, the series was left with two choices: run the qualifying in the wet and invariably have the slowest class of cars leading the field across the line for the start of the race (which some would call a 'recipe for disaster,' although I'm not sure that's the technical term), or officially abort the entire qualifying, setting the grid for the race by championship points, class by class. Thankfully, right before I was about put my helmet on to get in the car, word came down that the series had opted for the latter course of action. This meant we would start the race toward the rear of the PC field, as we did not score any points at Sebring.

Go time. Sitting on pre-grid, strapped in. This race, I was the starting driver. 
Race day proved to be dry as forecast, but even with the variable of rain out of the equation, the race proved to be one of the most interesting I've ever experienced. I was told I'd be starting the race, which meant I would at least have a couple of recon and pace laps to have a look at the track in the dry before hitting the track for real when the green flag was thrown. Every lap I could get before the official start was critical, as I would have the GT leaders right behind me on the start, who had plenty of experience with their cars around Long Beach.

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