Curran's Corvette Infested with Bugs at Detroit
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Full of enthusiasm after winning the last SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT 2008 race a week ago in Canada, Eric Curran was quickly brought back to racing's version of reality today as relatively minor mechanical bugs made him a spectator for much of his race.
The eighth round of the GT series was held on a 2.07-mile, 14-turn section of public roads on Belle Isle, in the middle of the Detroit River between Motown and Canada, eh?
Qualifying on Saturday was going well, and in fact, I got the #30 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet Corvette onto the pole briefly as the track was getting faster each lap Curran said.
With 10 minutes left in qualifying, the first pesky bug appeared. The engine didn't sound right, he said. We had developed a cylinder head problem only halfway into qualifying, which left us questioning another attempt at the pole. We attempted to repair it in pit lane but the SCCA official told us there was only 55 seconds left to qualifying. Turns out there was seven minutes and we had plenty of time. The Whelen crew worked hard and replaced the cylinder head after qualifying to be sure it was fixed and did it in only a two hour window before the race.
Under SCCA's rules, since Eric's team had changed a component on his car, even after he qualified up at the front, he had to start Sunday's race from the rear of the field because he had not driven the car in that configuration during qualifying.
Starting from the back end on a street circuit, where an 80mph average speed lap - which is a low number compared to a lot of road courses - is absolutely breath-taking, can be good and bad. If there's going to be trouble, it'll happen ahead of you and you run the risk of arriving on the scene at a high rate of speed, Eric commented.
As much as I like to charge hard, knowing we only had 26 laps to get this done, I still had to pick-and-choose my passing places.
Eric worked hard and made some great passes on his way to 9th position, then his car was reported as slow on course on lap 11, then it was reported he had pulled off and put the car in a safe position.
We lost the differential, he sad. And that was it. There was no point in trying to fight it and ruin something even more.
Eric was credited with 10 laps, and an unfortunate 19th place finish.
After you win a race, like we did a week ago at Mosport Park, maybe sometimes you forget to ask yourself - or as a team - How did things change so quickly?'
But after a day like today, we'll ask ourselves what we did wrong, and put that on the list of things we'll make sure doesn't happen again. The Marsh-Whelen team is a great bunch of guys and they'll respond quickly.