Round Four: Pouhon!07 July 2012
Itís now the last lap of Race Two. Yesterdayís was probably the best race of my life; todayís has so far been a little less exciting but now at the tail, comes the sting.
Running in 11th on the road, Iíve been drawing ever closer to Markís GTI over the previous two laps, posting a further half second improvement over yesterdayís personal best lap time in the process. Iím keen to overtake him if at all possible but Iím still at least 50 meters behind and conscious that as weíre already a third of the way around the final tour. Time is not on my side.
A good exit from the left often referred to as Liege sees me rushing in fifth gear down the hill towards Pouhon, yet another of Spaís seemingly limitless collection of high speed corners. As with many of the others, the challenge generated by this double apex left turn come from the spectacular topography of the valley that the circuit travels through.
In Pouhon itself, the road continues to fall away down the hillside and although you want the car to swerve left, the Siren call of the adverse camber draws the car ever wider towards the danger on the right at the outside of the corner. Miss the first apex here and youíll pay in lost time for another half mile, miss the second and youíll more than likely spin your race result away.
I prepare to put my plan into action. Ahead of the turn-in, I dab the brake, shift down one gear to fourth and steer her towards the first apex. If Iím on line, Iíll snick fifth half way through the turn and let the momentum generated by 100 mph take # 24 across to the cornerís exit point. Then I reckon, I should be travelling fast enough to pull alongside Mark before the next chicane.
Of course there ar some risks involved in this plan, because despite best efforts, at 50 meters Iím not quite close enough to Markís car to guarantee success. I consider waiting, tracking him through Stavelot and on to Blanchimont before a do-or-die attack at the Bus Stop (the final corner). But this is too obvious, I reckon heíll be expecting that and in any case attacks at the Bus Stop are (relatively) easily defended. So I pounce at Pouhon.
And it goes tits up.
My version is that on the final lap the hard working and very hot front Hankooks understeer a little more than previously with the result that the Golf is pushed out onto the ďmarblesĒ of disgarded tyre rubber lining the edge of the track. At which point the grip shortfall increases exponentially and Iím forced to thruppeny bit the car around the outer kerb, balancing a series of little slides and holding my breath until Iím safely back on line.
KPís version is driver talent failure.
Either way, I didnít catch Mark. But I did survive the moment and having played my Joker, score double points in Race Two to go seventh in the Championship.