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Rear View Mirror 11-20-17

John Schommer
Monday, November 20, 2017


Welcome to the Thanksgiving week edition of Rear View Mirror. This week we take a look at the season ending races in NASCAR, WEC, and the chaos of the Macau Grand Prix. Plus, a look at my second track day of 2017.



NASCAR Truex Jr. Takes Championship

It has been a tumultuous 12-years for Martin Truex Jr., but there is no question that 2017 was his year. Capping his best season ever that includes eight victories, and a career best 2,253 leading laps,the frosting on his cake was taking the NASCAR Championship with a win at Homestead in Miami.


This is the fourth year in a row the winner at Miami won the championship. The race had fans on their feet as the battle between Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch played out. With 39 laps remaining, Kurt Busch crashed and caused a caution that threw brother Kyle’s one-pit strategy out the window. Truex Jr. won the race off of pit row while Busch tried to challenge from a second behind.


The Furniture Row driver had a line that gave him an advantage, while Busch used up his tires trying to find a way to pass. Busch got within .60 seconds, but never got closer, and even fell back slightly after Kyle Larsen tapped his bumper with just two laps remaining.


The win at Miami, and the championship are both firsts for Truex Jr. He said the win was in part for his long-time girlfriend who has been battling ovarian cancer and for Furniture Row team owner Barney Visser who is recovering from a heart-attack and bypass surgery.


The race also marked the last full-time races for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, and Matt Kenseth. A new era begins next year and marks a fantastic end to a fantastic season for the newly crowned champion.



WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain

Sadly, once again we say good-bye to Porsche LMP racing. The 6-Hours of Bahrain was the farewell race for the team to claim the FIA WEC and 24-Hours of Le Mans trophies since returning to endurance racing three years ago. Porsche went out with a second and third place finish at Bahrain.


Porsche won the war, but Toyota won the day at Bahrain when the #8 Toyota TS 050 HYBRID took the win at the final race of the 2017 season. Drivers Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, claimed their third win of the season. Combined with the two wins of their sister car the #2, that makes five wins in 2017 for Toyota.



In GT it was all Ferrari as the AF Corse team brought home the manufacturer’s cup for the fifth time in six years. While Ford was in contention for the drivers’ championship until the end of the race, the third place finish of the #67 driven by Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell was not enough to beat Ferrari. Ferrari teammates James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 AF Corse 488 GTE would take the championship with a second place. The race was won by the #71 AF Corse piloted by Sam Bird and Davide Rigon. Congratulazioni Ferrari!



2017 Macau Grand Prix

Since 1954 Macau has been hosting a race through the city, and while the racing has evolved to host everything from sports cars, touring cars, Formula 3 and even motorcycles, one thing has stayed the same, it’s a treacherous race course. The Circuito da Guia, named from the Portuguese influence on the city/state that is now a Special Administrative Region of China, is known for tight corners such as Melco, and the high-speed bend at Police Corner.


The race has always attracted top talent; in fact, the first Formula 3 race held here was won by none other than Ayrton Senna. This year’s race was only different in the breadth and depth of the major crash during the FIA GT World Cup qualifying race. Jalopnik phrased it as a dam that stopped the river of cars dead in its tracks.


Only four drivers got out ahead of the wreck, including the pole-winning Eduardo Mortara. Mortara would go on to win the Cup race for Mercedes-AMG. It was the sixth win at Macau for Mortara. In the Formula 3 race it was David Ticktum who took the win. Ticktum’s win can be partially credited to a last lap, final corner crash by the leading cars driven by Sette Câmara and Ferdinand Habsburg.


You can watch highlights of the entire event below.



Johniwanna Track Day

It seems like it took me forever to get out to do some real track days, but with as busy as my life is, I got this new hobby started earlier this year in my 1978 Porsche 911. I have since purchased a 2016 Ford Fiesta ST, and have been looking forward to finding out how it compared to what can easily be called one of the best driver’s cars on the planet.


The Fiesta ST, couldn’t be more different than the 911. Front-wheel drive, a turbo-charged four-cylinder, and all the advancements in technology over 30 years, including the torque-vectoring stability control. The cars are fairly equal in power with the 911 putting out around 180 hp from its flat-six and the ST pushing just over 200 hp. The cars weigh close to the same.



Both of my track days were mired with some rain, but that is to be expected here in the Seattle area. The ST’s day started out dry thankfully, which gave me an opportunity to let the turbo suck in the brisk 45-degree air.


Pacific Raceways has a long front straight that let the ST reach speeds of around 115 mph before slowing slightly for the bend at Turn 1. More experienced drivers are able to keep it pinned through this corner before braking hard and downshifting to third for the long sweeping Turn 2. By the end of the day I was only lifting slightly, but there is much more to learn.



Coming out of Turn 2 you descend to the 2B-3 turn complex. Third becomes fourth in a flat-out speed grab before heavy braking while downshifting back to third gear takes you into the sharp curves. There was lots of tire scrub and some slip happening as I tried to apex these at a decent speed. Turn 3 is taken in second to begin the run down the back straight and upon exiting the tires were grabbing for traction. I shifted from second, to third, then to fourth gear before undulations upset the car slightly coming into Turn 4 where getting it wrong can not only screw up the next two turns but easily send a car spinning off track.


I nailed Turn 4 every time and was tempted to get just a little bit of curb as I tried to learn the approach to Turn 5. I got sideways once here after rain wet down the track. I learned later this spot does not dry as fast as the rest of the track. Having the rear end try to come around in a front-wheel drive car told me I was doing something right, and I did save the car from spinning. I was much more aware of this spot during my remaining laps.



If you apex Turn 5 correctly, a driver should be able to stay in the throttle to pull through Turn 6 and head back up the hill upshifting to fourth gear. Turn 7 is little more than all-out acceleration before a hard tap of the brakes and downshift to third to pull through the slightly banked penultimate turn.


Coming out of Turn 8 you should be carrying momentum to pass through the kink of Turn 9 for the all-out run down the front straight again.



I had five sessions, one with an instructor that was very helpful in pointing out braking points and more places I could straighten out the wheels faster and make use of all the track. A Turn 10 friend who has many track days under his belt driving his Scion FRS humbled me a bit by slowly reeling me an and passing me during one session, but experience is what wins on the track. I look forward to challenging his pace in a future event.


By comparison, the ST was a nimble and quick car that was overall easier to drive both mentally and physically. The 911 left my arms weary at the end of the day, but left me feeling like slightly more of a hero. Overall, I have to just be thankful to have such a great local track (20 mins from my home) and two diametrically-opposed cars to hone my driving skills with.



Tomorrow on the #TuesdayDrive we will be facing off against Dan Greenawalt in the November Bounty Hunter Event for starters, before getting into some multi-player racing and drifting action. I’ll also be asking you what your favorite cars in Forza Motorsport 7 are so far.


This week, I ask you to tell a friend about the #TuesdayDrive and get them to come join in the fun on Mixer and Twitch at 1 p.m. Pacific. I’ll also have a new piece of Forza history to introduce as we continue to decorate the Forza broadcast room.


Thanks to FIA WEC for photos from the 6-Hours of Bahrain.


Photo credit to NWBunny for Johniwanna Track Day photos.