Davy's Blog - Catheram Academy - Albi

Davy Decorps On September 23, 2013
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Progress and consequences

Last race weekend in my hometown was pretty nice! After a slow season start, and 3 rounds looking into brake troubles (and driver troubles I guess as well!!), I could take my first victory! Was my car finally competitive? Was I making progress? Maybe this was just luck? In fact I was really expecting the next round in Albi to find out!

Start of the free practice on Friday. I can here the sound of the brand new tire stickers clicking on the ground in the paddock... but they're not mines - my rear tires are almost dead, and the weather forecast predicts rain.... That sounds pretty bad!
The track looks really nice, but it gets hard to learn with a lot of traffic and caterhams stuck in the gravel/tires here and there.

Saturday morning, time for qualifications. I didn't do a good job yesterday on the dry... and now have to get the most of myself and the car driving on the wet for the first time... Let's do this! Even on a slippery surface the car is still giving me confidence and I can push as much as I want, but again it's pretty difficult to get a clean lap!
I'm not too happy with the few clean laps I can put together, but I eventually qualify 2nd for both races, close to the 1st. I must admit I'm pretty surprised!
Check the onboard qualify here

Wet weather...worn out tires... go!

The first race is just two hours later and the tension is building up slowly but surely!
Last adjustments on tire pressures, more like a Voodoo ritual than an engineers work... Ok those pressures are fast!!
Gridding, waiting....waiting... And GREEEEEEEN!! Jump on the throttle but my old demons are back... That damn second gear is stuck!!!! A big pack of cars passes me quickly, and I need to cut the chicane to avoid a crash in front...  I think I'm last now...
Time to push!!! I manage to regain some positions as a lot of the cars that passed me were roadsport class, which had a hard time qualifying on the wet yesterday. 
Now I think I'm 3rd, and try to get that second spot! I close the gap little by little but I can see a car getting bigger in the mirrors... It's the poleman! I am in fact 2nd and chasing for the victory! 
As a penalised car gets out of the pit just in front of me, I lift and lose the little bit of fresh air I had on the 3rd.... Guess I will have to battle hard now!

Heart of battle

I am braking later and later to keep my advantage, and as I reach the last braking spot at 170km/h, I can see the 3rd taking the inside line... Wow I was late.... He's even more late!! As I turn the car, I just see him cutting in front of me, straight into the gravel after a little contact on my front wheel. That was late indeed!!! After a little smile under my helmet, I can now focus back on the 1st! Gap is falling down to almost nothing but just as I can now try to pass.... a roadsport class car gets to my inside and spoils all my efforts to take the lead.... Furthermore.... 3rd is now back in my mirrors!!! Ok, end of the race sounds tough!!! Battle is hard and I can only struggle to keep the second position, and as the last braking of the last lap comes.... I try to make it late... DAMN late!! Hit the pedal, but my line is a little different than before.... I just feel the rear wheels starting to slide... Oh dear oh dear! As the car flies over the curb I have a rough landing in the gravel, kick the second gear in, and limp to the finish line! Good news is I wasn't the only one being late and in the gravel!! Second place!!

Onboard race 1 right here

I'm really happy about that race, probably my best ever. The battle was hard but so exciting!
But once back in the pitlane, the atmosphere is a bit different.... "What have you done to your brakes?" "Your engine feels healthy uh?" I quickly realize I am just being accused of cheating! That's a first time for me, and I feel this as a big big reward! 

Sunday morning and time for second race! After the tough battle of race 1, I'm a bit anxious... 


Green lights, second gear is here this time!!! Now it's a matter of managing the roadsport class cars and to try not to lose too much time to the poleman...  And this is hard... Let pass or not? What's the best option!? As I try to push the car around, I can see the gap is already almost 3 seconds.... It's gonna be really difficult, the guy is fast... 
A couple of laps to the finish, it seems I'm not the only one having troubles with the roadsport class, and I can see the 1st wide in the grass just in front!! Apparently it was a good idea to keep the pressure from a distance!
He's now 1s ahead....  and I just realize that... if I push.... I can win this one!!!
I'm now struggling on the wheel to get closer, and with a better top speed I can get him on the brakes.....  Last lap : I'm first!!!  "Try not to make a stupid mistake!!!!!" Last braking... Last turn..... Victory!!!!!!!!  YES!!!!

Onboard race 2 right here!

Another victory... feeling good!

After the podium ceremony, a little boy comes to me and asks for an autograph... Uh what? :D Unfortunatly Tristan, I'm afraid this one won't gain a lot of value!!

huh?! Ok!

Really happy with that result, but again, back in the pitlane, it's not the same story... Some cars are called for a technical check... What a surprise :D Luckily for me, the official did not find the carbon brake discs and the turbo hidden under the passenger seat! 

Let's check this car!

After a 6 hour drive back home, still got that smile on my face. Car's great and I'm having a lot of pleasure pushing it arround the track. The downside is that I came here to have nice battles with fair guys... And got a bit disapointed here!!

After years reading pros and cons about sim racing realism and so on.... I now realize the biggest difference from racing to simracing is maybe that constant suspicion, jealousy, big money everywhere....

Having a really awesome year racing for the first time.... but don't expect me to leave iRacing anytime soon guys!

Pictures courtesy of Benjamin Lacaze - Thanks!


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