Traditionally, the Goblins Go at VIR is a very relaxed event taking place at the scenic Virginia International Raceway. However, both Area 81 Racing F1000 cars had to be turned around & prepped very quickly to make the NC Region’s Double Race/Double Points 2016 SARRC event. Richard had less than one week of preparation time following the SIC at Roebling Road Raceway. Tim had less than three weeks since racing at the SCCA Runoffs at Daytona International Speedway. The lack of preparation time would come to haunt the team as both cars suffered electrical and mechanical difficulties. However, valuable points were secured for both cars on Saturday with Richard’s double points win and Tim was able to post a double points win on Sunday.
Very cool temperatures met the team early Saturday morning, and though it was sunny, the 3.27 mile VIR track surface was lacking grip. With additional wing added & newer, softer compound tires, Richard was able to qualify on the outside Front Row & F1000 pole position. Tim soldiered on his medium compound tires, which lacked overall mechanical grip, and qualified 2nd in class and 6th overall. In Saturday’s Race 1 Richard really showed speed as he took the green and overall race lead in turn 1. He nearly led the entire race, all but the last lap, and improved his personal best lap time by nearly 2 seconds. Tim showed considerable improvement after mounting new soft compound tires, but he was also balked by lapped traffic throughout the race. He gained three positions to finish a very strong second and third overall. Sunday qualifying started with even cooler temps and the Area 81 Racing F1000 teammates qualified side-by-side on Row 2, separated by only .464 seconds. At the start of the Race 2 however, Richard experienced the same electrical gremlin’s that occurred the week prior, as his Stohr F1000 slowed to a halt on the warm-up lap with complete battery failure. Tim was able to nurse a slipping clutch through multiple yellow and black flags to finish 1st in F1000 class.
Richard Franklin, Car # 81 – Missed opportunities & mixed emotions pretty much sums up my weekend at VIR. First of all, I need to thank my Crew Chief, Hawk Hibbs, for helping me prep & load the car on Friday, and for his substantial help throughout the weekend. I was considering not even attending VIR because of the multiple electrical, clutch, & oil leak issues after the frantic at-the-track engine change at the SIC. But Hawk showed up at Car 81 Headquarters early on Friday and Tim continued to motivate me through the week to get to VIR. I’m really glad they did, as my car really performed during both Qualifiers and put me on the outside front row on Saturday and F1000 Pole in both qualifiers. Saturday’s race was fantastic as I took the lead in Turn 1 and never looked back. The P1 competitor who passed me on the last lap mentioned that he never would have caught me, except I was slowed by lapped traffic. Improving my personal best lap time by nearly 2 seconds at VIR was very exciting. In all my years of racing, I’ve never had a car that handled that well, gave me that much confidence, and had that much overall speed. It felt great! Sunday’s Qualifying went well in the AM, so I decided to change the battery, repair an exhaust leak, and service the steering. Unfortunately, I only managed to make it around turn 1 when the battery failed completely. Something is definitely wrong with the charging system, but at least I have the whole off-season to work it out.
Tim Pierce, Car # 18 – With double points being awarded for each race, I knew this even would have strong implications on the 2016 SARRC Championship. The cold weather caught me by surprise and I had to run harder tires in Q1. It took several laps before the tires got enough heat in them to get up to speed. By that time several cars had spun out, the track was littered with debris, multiple local cautions were out, and I was held up by slower traffic. Several key setup changes and new soft compound tires were the cure that I so desperately needed. During the race my car handled very well but I was unable to get adequate drive out of the turns due to a slipping clutch. I was still able to get to within a second of my best lap times, but there was no closing the gap on Richard. My engine showed signs of clogged injectors during the Sunday qualifying session so we replaced them before the race. Unfortunately, having full power doesn’t help if you can’t put it to the track. The clutch issues worsened during the race and I was lucky to pull out the win. My car is due for a fresh engine over the winter so we’ll be ready come March.
After a solid and successful year of SCCA racing, the Area 81 Racing team will be taking some time off thru the Holidays to repair and service their race cars, transporters and further develop their F1000’s. Be sure to stay tuned to www.Area81Racing.com and especially our Facebook page –> https://www.facebook.com/Area-81-Racing-Team-173745692673454/ for their 2016 Area 81 Racing Schedule and any Sponsorship announcements.