Tuesday – Load in
This is our last PROSPEC round of the year! It happens to be my favorite track in the series. We get to drive our cars extremely fast and send it! At this venue, there are no lights shining on the track at nighttime, so that’s why this event starts a day earlier. Each day is over by sunset. This makes things much easier, it’s not so chaotic each day. We were able to get the pit set up, tires over to TireStacks for them to mount, nut and bolt check, and we were prepared for the morning.
Wednesday – Practice
Drivers meeting started at 10:00am. We were granted 3 ½ hrs of practice from 11-2:30pm (which is the most amount of time we have had yet in the series). This track is very fast, making it extremely fun for all the drivers. I was feeling extremely good. I honestly felt like I had this track down and the car dialed! Team was functioning well together and I was just all around happy. Weather was good, we didn’t have any mechanicals, the car was running great! We got 8 practice laps in and was ready to qualify tomorrow. We ended the day with another drivers meeting at 4:30pm. During the meeting, I asked which part of the track would be heavily judged/rewarded if we really dominated that section. I was told that they want us to hit all 3 Outer Zones correctly, however the two transitions on track will be heavily judged. If we look fluid and are snappy through our transitions, then we will get more points. This was my new focus going into tomorrow.
Thursday – Qualifying
We started the day bright and early at 6:30am. Practice was from 7:30-9:30am. Between yesterdays practice and todays, we had 5 ½ hrs of practice! What a treat! I was so confident in the car and the track and I knew I was going to be a high contender! Right at 9:30am, we went straight into qualifying. I go out, do my run and went a little heavy on OZ1. I hit the Outer Zone pylon, and shredded my rear bumper off! Not phasing me, I continued to OZ2, where I was definitely shallow. I wish I would have been in the zone, but I missed it. In the drivers meeting, the judges told us if you are not in the zone all the way you will get docked points. However, if you make aggressive corrections to your line in order to correctly put the car into the zone deeper, you will be docked MORE points. They said that they would rather see a clean, fluid line as opposed to making adjustments to get the car in the correct place. So, I chose to be settled, full throttle and get ready to transition into OZ3. OZ3 looked decent, I rode the line the entire zone. Would have liked to be a couple inches deeper, but who doesn’t am I right? This run was scored at 59.33 which is a VERY low score. I knew right away that this would mean that I would have to redo my qualifying run. Angered, I start questioning myself as to why I was so off line in comparison to practice? Was I nervous? Not at all. I was doing so good. I had all the confidence to lay down a great run and for some reason I was unable to pull that off. So now I had to wait for every driver to do their qualifying run before they went into the “Knock Out” category. This down time is a couple hours, which sucks. I watched 11 of my peers get incompletes and this fueled my disappointment because it would have been a walk in the park if I had just laid down a decent run.
But all feelings aside, it was time for my second qualifying run. As I initiated, I pulled my ebrake and to my surprise, the car didn’t snap to angle as fast as previous runs. It had just started skidding in a straight line. I quickly turned the wheel aggressively to get the car to rotate into a drift, and throttled through it. This caused me to have a shallow initiation, hitting the inner clip. This put me into a goofy line. I had to readjust in the transition between OZ1 and OZ2 to get back on track. This adjustment allowed me to put the car deeper into OZ2 then the first run. I completed the run a little bit more shallow on OZ3 than the 1st run. I was so disappointed. I knew this run was worse than the first! The only thing I knew I did better on this run was OZ2. The score came out – 65.33. How? I’m happy that I got a better score than the first run, but it was not very good in comparison to run 1. This tells me that OZ2 was the most heavily judged section of the track. Good to know that for next year. After the KO qualifying runs were over, the results were in and we came in 33rd place. In order to make it into the show, you got to be Top 32, so our weekend came to a sudden halt!
Devastated….for my sponsors… my team… and most importantly – myself. This is my 3rd year in FD. Every year I have gotten better. Both statistically and skillfully. But this year, this year was absolutely rough. To sum it up, there are only 4 races. I did not get to compete in 3 of them. I only got to compete in one where I ended up having an issue at the beginning of that run causing me to lose. Lots of emotions over here. The thought that I could potentially lose my FD license because I didn’t rank high enough is absolutely appalling.
I spent the rest of the weekend team working with my title sponsor NonStopTuning. At this round, they had a booth selling their products so I brought the car over to their booth and hung out. The team and I had entertaining nights, long lasting memories, and constructive thoughts/ideas about the future.
We ended Saturday night with attending a banquet. FD had put together a dinner party for all drivers and their family/teams to celebrate another year ending. It was a blast! Unlimited beers/tacos and lots of emotions.
This is me being 100% real with you guys. I will fight every moment to stay in this. I hope that when you are reading this, you can feel my emotions. This is not something I’m going to give up on. I will be back next year. I will be more successful. Thank you to all who support me, you are my motivation to become the best that I can be, and that, I will become.
See you in 2024 =]
WORDS: Alex Lichliter
PHOTOS: Ignition Source TV / drivenby.shootings
NST - NonStopTuning
NST - NonStopTuning