Petit Le Mans Part 2/2 ~ Race Day… Finally!
By Zacharie Robichon
Once back on track, it really was business as usual for us. I can’t say enough about the preparation and work that the team put in to hit the ground running in one of the toughest races of the season. On the performance side we were struggling at the onset of the week. Perhaps a little bit of rust from the drivers and the lack of running at a track that other teams had just come back from made the problem seem a little worst then what it actually was.
The more we ran we started realizing that it seemed as though our long run pace was always quite good but could not get fast laps at the beginning of a session. With the 2020 IMSA protocols, to reduce contacts, spending and event days to help stop the spread of Covid-19, our track time was less then it traditionally would be. And of course, for us having missed the entirety of the season we really needed that time!
Towards the end of practice, we started understanding where we were lacking and what we needed to get the most out of the car. We decided to use qualifying as an additional test session and although our position wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we knew we would have a good race car.
Heading into the race we were cautiously optimistic. We had a car that was easy to drive, and in a 10-hour race that is really important as it allows the drivers to consistently push to the limit. The race started well and we quickly put ourselves up into a podium position. The race was only beginning but our hunch that we would have good long run pace was proving to be correct.
If the beginning of the race was good, the middle hours of the race proved to be a real struggle. It first started with a couple of slow pit stops caused by a damaged fuel probe. After the problem seemed to be getting worst the team eventually rebuilt the entire fuel probe between pit stops to find that there was a small tear in the venting system and therefore the fuel was not venting during pitstops causing a very slow fill. Once the problem was found we were back to having some of the fastest pit stops in the field, even with all our time away from the track.
On-track we also had some issues, a total of 3 tire failures each one costing us a pit stop under green flag conditions. Therefore, it seemed as though we were always playing catch up and with track position being so important it certainly wasn’t easy to get the car into a podium position.
The middle of the race also had quite a large gap of time without yellows, which means we were not able to get back in touch with the leading cars to try and move up in the standings. The end of the race had a lot of action and we capitalized on it to fight back up to 5th with some great driving by Dennis Olsen.
So after 9 months away, we left with 3 tire issues, one fueling issue, the 2nd fastest car in class and a 5th place finish. Not too bad, and certainly very motivating for the whole team to hopefully be back racing and competing in 2021.
Pfaff Motorsports - Episode 5 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) 2019 (A LOOK BACK)