Luca Mars and his team on their practice sessions that took place Monday for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Brazil!
November 26, 2018 ·
So finally we get to the action today! We rolled through the gates at 6:30 (easy to do here with a 4:30 sunrise!) for three rounds of practice - 15 minute recon session followed by two 8 minute sessions. Not a lot of time to learn a brand new track and a new kart plus get back in touch with an engine package that Luca hasn’t driven since summer - but we were ready for the challenge!
The initial session was very good with Luca starting in the back of the pack and picking off 15 or so racers and looking really comfortable & aggressive. Our tactics rarely change and giving Luca the green light to hunt is always the best way to gauge his comfort level and pace. He was solidly in the top five most of the session but the last few laps had him cutting through traffic so we never really got a flier once the track came in.
A few twists were thrown at us as the day wore on including wildly varying weather where it ranged from sprinkles to raging sunshine (I swear you can touch the sun from here if you jump high enough...) to deluges to cloudy/windy. You really never knew what you were going to get when you pushed off for grid and Mother Nature rarely skipped surprises. We had a light rain as we were sitting on grid for round two and then a downpour two groups before ours for round three. Shockingly the track dried amazingly fast both times and within a few laps the drivers were at full speed.
The second session saw Luca finish P9 and looking really solid but the third session we dropped way down the charts after trying something outside the box on the kart. As we always say - when testing it doesn’t matter if your changes work or not, only that you learn something from it. We learned that change kinda stunk...
A few interesting technical tidbits from the day - the first of which is rain tires and the fact that you only get one set of a very soft tire for the entire week of practice and racing. Definitely an exercise in judgement as we weighed the what-ifs and decided to run full dry setups with dry tires regardless of the circumstances so Luca could experience the track as the rain changed the surface or the surface dried during a race.
The other curveball was that the technical regulations changed on us midday. After testing and then preparing a kart utilizing all the awesome tuning tools that Praga gives you, we were told we were unable to change steering column & spindle pick up points or front & rear ride heights. Certainly not the end of the world but it did require a change of plan & direction on the fly.
These twists and turns are the hook that keeps us coming back for more though and we have a solid plan for tomorrow after some time with Andy’s nose in the laptop! We’ll be ready for three more rounds of practice starting at 8:00 tomorrow - remember, we are two hours ahead if you are following on Live Timing.
Sorry for the lack of travel/culture notes today but in the end this is what we came to do. No matter if it’s in the middle of an Indiana cornfield or a continent away a few steps from the sun, once we are on track it becomes a bit all consuming!
If you’d like to see Luca’s perspective on the event follow the Pittsburgh International Race Complex Instagram feed where they’ve allowed Luca to stage a takeover of their account! Thanks to the staff at our home town track for their support of Luca - very cool.
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