Lexington, Ohio, August 6 — Remember yesterday I mentioned how difficult Mid-Ohio can be? Well, I never mentioned how much more difficult it can be in the rain.
One word -- diabolical.
The absolute worst conditions for any race track is light rain. It mixes in with the oil on the track, since it's not heavy enough to wash said oil off the track, creating a skating rink. Now, picture conditions like this at Mid-Ohio.
As soon as the rain started falling, lightly at first, I knew we were in for an unpredictable thriller. Anybody was now capable of winning this race as no one was immune to the slippery track conditions.
The Muscle Milk Aston Martin Lola Coupe B08 62, which grabbed the lead after the first restart from the #16 Dyson Racing Mazda Lola B09/86 and started to pull away, nearly fell off the track in the esses.
The Falken Tires were perfect in the rain, propelling their car to the GT win.
However, the excitement was in GT, as anybody did win the race. Wolf Henzler, driving the last stint for Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, pulled off one of the most amazing single laps in ALMS history.
First, let's set the stage. Early in the race, despite having the first two spots in the GT field, the BMWs quickly faded. The #56 class pole car fell back to third after a few laps as Jan Magnussen took the lead in his Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 followed by the Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Toni Vilander. The #55 BMW M3 was further back.
The two GT BMW M3s run together and then proceeded to run into each other.
Then, Dirk Werner, in the #56 BMW broke a major racing rule, and not for the first time, by trying an ill fated pass on his teammate, knocking the other BMW off the track. Both cars recovered enough to finish third and fourth (mainly due to other cars falling off the track on the last very, very wet green lap).
Nearly everyone completed their final pit stops just before the rain began to fall, which of course made things even more exciting. It doesn't take much rain to have drivers wanting to change tires. This caught me off guard, as the track did not appear too wet. But, I should have remembered, this is Mid-Ohio.
Teams started ducking into the pits for rain tires, and not even intermediates. They went straight for the full rains, while the crowd anticipated excitement. Excitement they got, as cars began spinning, falling off the track, and getting stuck in gravel traps, causing full course yellows.
During one of the full course yellows, Jaime Melo in the Risi Ferrari, debated back and forth with this team whether to go to rain tires. The rain was letting up, but they eventually decided to change. Then, on the subsequent restart -- before he even got to the start line -- a BMW smacked him in the left rear, damaging his suspension beyond repair.
Just after the full course yellow came out for that incident, it rained again -- hard. The Risi car would have had no chance anyway had they decided to remain on dries.
Team Falken Tire always has the best grid girls. Now, their car is tops in the finishing order.
Now, for the prophecy. Back at Mosport, Team Manager Derek Walker mentioned how the Falken rain tires were great. The entire ALMS field were about to witness his confidence.
When the race resumed, Henzler was in fifth place in GT with the Falken car. He then proceeded to zip by cars as if they were standing still. Three times after getting by someone, they immediately spun off the track trying to keep up with Henzler. One lap later, Henzler was in first place.
As cars were flying off the race track and spinning like tops, the Falken tires were gripping as if it was dry. With all the carnage, not to mention near zero visibility, another full course yellow came out. The Falken team now prayed for a red flag. They got it. Time ran out. The stunning victory was theirs.
The Muscle Milk car, despite nearly falling off the track in the deluge, held on to win overall.
The crowd, as well as myself, got soaked, but we certainly can't say we were bored.
Quote of the Day. Alex Figge, who won the first World Challenge race, was told it appeared he had a lot of fans. He replied, "Well, when you do one-offs in 15 different series, you accumulate a lot of fans..."
Answers. We have the answers to Friday's questions concerning the real issues Deep Throttle lets you in on. They are: he did not, no, and not even close.
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