The STANMECH Technologies, Good Cars Only, Gabo Solutions #77 Formula Mazda Team had a great race weekend at the CASC – OR Summer Classic, held at Calabogie Motorsports Park. We were entered in the Formula Libre race group. There were a total of 16 cars in our race group including, a Formula Atlantic, a Radical three Formula 4’s, two Formula Renaults, several Formula Mazda’s and assorted other open wheel Formula Libre race cars. The weather was unbelievably hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 35 to 42° C with the humidex.
Over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we were on track a total of 9 times; 5 on-track practices during the Friday test day, followed by qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday, Race 2 & 3 on Sunday. Our race class had some beautiful open wheel race cars including Marcel Lafontaine’s unbelievably fast Formula Atlantic.
Our best lap for the test day was a 2:06 – on fresh, scuffed in tires. When compared to previous trips to Calabogie, we noted that the track had become much more abrasive than what we had previously recalled, and we expected that were going to have tire wear issues during the course of the race weekend.
Saturday morning, the weather was very warm, with a substantial amount of humidity. We deliberately did not participate in practice as we didn’t want to cause any unnecessary tire wear. We set a reasonable P4 qualifying time of 2:09.141. During Race 1, we managed to gain one spot finishing in P3 with a lap time of 2:07.884. Bill Vallis and I spent quite a bit of time working on chassis set up to improve the tire wear, however we were already struggling to minimize the impact that the track was having on our tires. And unfortunately, this one set of tires was going to have to work for us during the entire race weekend.
The weather on Sunday started out very warm and humid. During Race 2, we experience rapid degradation of the tires resulting in a P5 finish with a best lap time of 2:11.105. Sadly, our tires were a mess after the session and we found some kind of tire defect in our front left tire.
This problem created a huge issue for us as we did not have another set of tires that we could change to. As a result, we had to buy a fresh set of Pirelli radial race tires for the #77 Formula Mazda. This tire change resulted in a complete suspension setup change to accommodate the radial race tires.
It is important to note here that we have never driven the #77 Formula Mazda with radial tires, so this was going to be quite an experience. We started Race 3 in 4th position and quickly made our way to P1 by lap number four. Mike MacNeil challenged us for the lead in corner 5 on lap eight by trying to pass on the outside but was unable to complete the pass as he ran out of racetrack. Huw Leahy, in his Radical, managed to pass us on the last lap in the braking zone of 12a, however we were able to regain the position in the last corner before the checkered flag (corner 20) finishing in P1. An outstanding race with a best lap time of 2:09.050!
The experience running on Pirelli racing radials was very interesting. Normally, we run on Goodyear bias ply tires. The #77 Formula Mazda reacts very well with Goodyear tires, responding instantaneously to changes in steering inputs. The Pirelli radials, on the other hand, experienced an infinitesimal lag in response during changes in steering inputs. As a result, we had to modify our turning points for most corners to accommodate for that small lag in response. It was a very interesting experience in terms of the change in handling of our #77 Formula Mazda and we are looking forward to future opportunities of trying these Pirelli radials at other racetracks.
A special thank you to Bill Vallis and Bill Davis of Vallis Motor Sport for their trackside support during the CASC-OR Calabogie Summer Classic and to Calabogie Motorsports Park for hosting such a fantastic, safe event!! And last, but certainly not least, we want to thank our long suffering family which allows us to continue to race……….