This past weekend saw the first race of the Spanish nationals take place in Almussafes and Nacho Lopez sent this report. We were quite confident before the race, because we had a really good setup. However the weather forecast was not so good everything could happens. This year in Spain we have two direct finalists to increase the emotion of the heats. So it was important to achieve at least a second place to avoid the semifinals.
Friday saw raining in Valencia all the day. So no testing possible. On Saturday the day started with sun but also with cold. The track was wet until the evening, so no dry testing was possible. During the controlled heats and the first two qualify heats we were using a new engine that we weren’t able to tune at 100%. So after three rounds we decided to change the engine to a used motor and it was almost perfect from the beginning. However the 2-speed was not perfectly tuned for this engine and in the fourth heat I lost a lot of time because of it. Besides that the car was almost perfect during this run. We were using the 966 but with the front steering blocks of the 977 and I don’t remember to drive a better car in my life.
After 4 rounds we were in the third position and we had one more round. I adjusted the 2-speed for the last round, but the track was so cold (almost 7p.m) and the car had no grip. So finally third and I had to do the semifinals.
On Sunday I was a bit worried by the semifinals. In the last race of the 2012 season I finished my race in a mid wet track in the semifinals with a crash. Even more in the warm up of the semis my 2-speed one way was not working correctly, so we needed to ask for 10 minutes delay and I had to start in the eleven position the semis.
I calmed down and I start the semis carefully. For the first laps I noticed that my pace was so fast, and drivers seeing it made me easy to overpass them. After two laps I was in first position with an amazing pace, with a very smooth driving, saving tyres and fuel. I finished two laps ahead the second classified driver.
Before the final I noticed that the problem with the two speed was the shaft, not the one-way. So we changed the axle and the one-way for the final. We prepared the tyres and the strategy, and we were confident that our pace was enough for fighting the race.
We had a very little tyre wear so we decided to start with very big tyres to be able to do both strategies, change and no tyre change. In the first laps my car was a bit lazy due to big tyres, and pressing Montesinos who was in second place I lost the third place to local driver Joaquin Signes. Trying to recover the position with Joaquin I put two tyres over the grass losing one front tyre due to a soft spring or a non good lever. So we lost 51 seconds and we decided to go for no tyre change to try to recover some of this time.
So I needed to drive so fast to recover time but saving tyres. How to do it? To be honest, the car helped me. Was really fast, and so smooth. So I started to have an amazing pace of mid 17 during almost 25 minutes with no tyre wear. So after 25 minutes I had recover a lot of terrain, being second after Cabezas, taking into account that I was the only driver who hadn’t changed the tyres. However, I lost one front tyre again, So we decided to change the tyres because fighting for the race and second place was almost impossible, and we wanted to secure the third place. But 10 minutes later Joaquin Signes who was in second place had problems with his batteries and we could achieve a second place behind Cabezas in 1st, with Sergio Montesinos taking the final podium spot in 3rd.