Horrible ending to a Horrible season. This time it’s the clutch that’s gone.
In practice this morning Dad jumped in the car and was happy with the speed of the new gen 3 engine. But at the half way point we did a driver change and I was really unhappy with the car. It felt weird pulling out of corners, particularly the tight turn 4 and I was more than a little surprised Dad didn’t notice anything. The track was super grippy though and I ended up setting the fastest time the Red Dragon has done, a 1:23.99, but I’m sure there was plenty more time to be had if the car was running right.
Into the race and Dad was in the drivers seat first. The grid was based on championship position but reverse, so he started in position 20. He had a good run and made an amazing call to come into the pits for the compulsory pit stop a lap after the end of the safety car (more on that fiasco in another post). He jumped out of the car saying how awesome and fast it was but I was a little sceptical as I got in. Straight away it was the same issue from practice. I couldn’t understand what it was but it just felt like it wasn’t up to speed. But to add to my stress the car was blowing out clouds of smoke on turn 4 again. It had this problem at the last round at Taupo but we just thought it was overfull on oil, which now looks wasn’t the problem. As the race went on the weird under powered feeling only got worse. I was getting overtaken constantly, thinking maybe it was just the faster cars getting past as normal, but when other MR2’s, which in theory are identical, gained car lengths on me up the straight it was clear I wasn’t wrong about their being car issues. I was really limping home at the end of the race, nursing the car rather than attacking the track. At times I would change gear, getting on the gas, and the revs would shoot up while the car slowed down leaving me flailing about trying to find another gear or do something to get power back. I did make it to the end (just) but I feel it was the least enjoyable race I’ve ever driven in. Talking about it afterwards it’s clear the clutch was the problem but it’s not something I had experienced before.
Weirdest part is, as much as the racing sucked, I’m kinda glad for the experience. Nursing the car home is something I haven’t done before and I like to think it’s now something I have in common with professional drivers. Also in the pits afterwards it was quite a complement that some of the people who passed me didn’t realise I had problems slowing me down (I’ll take it as a complement anyway). Last positive note was I set the fastest lap within Toymota Racing in both the practice and race which wasn’t expected with how I felt the car was doing.
p.s. shout out to Media77 and their sick photos which made a return for this round.