There are weekends that the GT-R’s wide tires and huge torque numbers play in our favor; this was not one of those weekends. I don’t believe I used full throttle for more than maybe 10 seconds of any given wet lap, there was no point. I spent all weekend trying to keep the car off of full boost because even at wastegate pressures it was enough to spin the tires through 4th gear. Infineon Raceway is a fast and treacherous track in the dry; in the wet it is absolutely unforgiving. One mistake and you are in a wall, as many of my competitors learned this weekend. And I learned that one Innocent off in the mud going maybe 50mph, was enough to completely destroy the front of the car.
The weekend started off well, we were finding a few tweeks here and there to get more grip from the GT-R in the rain. We struggled with sound a bit but found that a combination of a turn down and me short shifting by the decibel meter was enough to drop below the required 103 db. By the end of testing on Saturday we came to the conclusion that there was no cure for our wide tires, which caused us to hydroplane like no one’s business, and huge power required to rocket our 3,700lb GT-R down the straight. I just had to be careful, concentrate, and steer clear of the puddles. I explain to a worried Tim Bailey that he had nothing to worry about; I was in complete control as long as I stayed out of the puddles.
Famous last words, as they say. Sunday morning the sky really opened up and the rain came down harder than ever. The amount of water running off the mountain that Infineon is perched on was amazing. Steady and hard rain all night was creating muddy rivers across the track. The worst part though was the rain started to fall so hard, visibility fell, and the track reflected the clouds like one BIG puddle. At that point I was at the mercy of the track and hit a puddle I could not see. All I could do was keep the car pointed forward and minimize damage which I thought I had done well until “CRUNCH!” Bye-bye front splitter and lower lip. I had now successfully removed any front downforce I had, and would have to navigate the already tough conditions without any front aero aid.
After sitting second in the first timed session where I redesigned the front of the car, the track started to dry and we elected to go out and give it another shot. Enough of the standing water on the track had cleared and I just needed to navigate around puddles and deal with damp conditions. I ran 3 clean laps with steadily decreasing lap times and I regained my confidence, and the last lap was good enough for the win, keeping our winning-streak alive.
The super session was lots of fun as usual. I started first in Mod, and my only real competition on track was all in front of me. The GST “L” was in a league of its own in the wet this weekend and quickly left everyone in the dust. That left the Works EVO with my old rival from my days in USTCC, and the RTA newcomer Brandon Davis in his World Challenge Mustang. We had a good three way battle going until the GT-R decided to get back at me for damaging its good looks earlier in the weekend and threw an AWD code. I was now in RWD and decided to just sit back and take the win in Mod.
On the final lap going through the last two corners I realized that Brandon Davis, for whatever reason, was having just as much trouble as me and I was catching him. Wanting some bragging rights by beating a Super Mod car, not to mention a World Challenge Mustang, I pushed hard. It was RWD vs. RWD. An American big V8 vs. a Japanese twin turbo V6 and we looked to have the advantage. It came right down to the last corner where I made my move and late-braked on the inside of turn 11. Unfortunately I had a hell of a time getting the power down on the dry line and Davis was able to get a better drive out of the corner. I tried one more time throwing the GT-R sideways through a puddle on the inside of turn 12 just before start finish, but it was not enough and I finished about half a car length behind.
It was a high stress weekend for me piloting our beast of a car around the track. As the track started to dry during the super session I think we got a little redemption for our wet performance by our battle with the Super Mod Mustang with no splitter and RWD only. I look forward to a nice cool and dry Auto Club Speedway event. Look for our GT-R to be splitting time between Super Mod and Mod in hopes of competing for the overall course record. See everyone there!