Tuesday, January 31, 2017

WinterFest Sepang Results

We had 10 cars at WinterFest this year -- 3 rookies and 7 veterans.  This was the fourth race I've hosted at either of the sister conventions in Rockville (Congress of Gamers and WinterFest) and our largest field yet.  I wonder if I'll have to use a second track next year?

Michael Polcen and Kalvin Miller -- started out fast and jockeyed for the race lead until Michael damaged his car beyond repair and was forced to retire.

A couple cars tried to race from behind including Tim Mossman, Jim Fleckenstein, and rookie Rich Bernhart.  The 2-lap race was tough on those cars.  Jim got stuck in some traffic, damaged his brakes, and was forced to roll more dice to try to catch up, and eventually retired.  Tim was the only of those three to make a move up to the middle pack.

The meta-game put the race from behind cars behind the 8-ball this race.  We raced 2-laps which will normally help race from the front cars.  The ten car field did the race from the backs no favors.  And not a lot of cars tried to race from the front.  So the race from the backs quickly found themselves bumping up against the back of the pack.

That middle pack was tough and featured battles between Doug Schulz and Don Tatum (who flirted with the leaders for much of the race as well) before Tim joined the fray but usually included 3-5 cars in close formation.

click to enlarge
In my mind, the key to a good race at Sepang is the set-up for corner 4 (circled).  There is a pretty good path you can take in corners 4 - 7 for 2 wear.  But this is the narrowest section of the track and the lines are important in all 4 corners in this complex.  So other cars can easily mess up your lines.  That can be the difference between gaining or losing a turn on the competition.

I think a couple things most contributed to my win.  First, I managed to get in front of most of the pack which kept me out of traffic and using wear efficiently.

At the beginning of lap 2 I ended up nicely aligned in front of the first corner and was able to power around the outside 120s at 160 to pass Don.

In the middle of lap 2, Tim made his move through corner 2.  He was out of wear then but could end up beating me for corner 4 and causing no end of problems.  I was able to spend some wear there to pull ahead of him into second.  I was then able to stay in second and chase down Kalvin who had less wear by then.

Although I only just was able to pass Kalvin through the last corner (see photo above).  Kalvin would finish second and was really close to winning from the front of the pack.  Tim managed to stay in 3rd for most of the last half of lap 2 but spun in the last corner and fell back to 7th.  That put Don back on the podium.  Brian DeWitt spent most of the race in and around the main pack but fell back a bit at the end of the race only to come flying into the hairpin at the end to claim 4th.

I almost forgot to talk about the newly re-designed last corner.  People liked it.  I saw all three lanes used effectively.  I think it presents more of an advantage to trailing cars then the old corner.  Because there is only 1 line it is easier to move to plan B in response to the path chosen by the car in front of you.  The older configuration meant you usually committed to one of the two lines.  None-line paths were generally terrible.  I think this is now my preferred configuration.

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