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ST results from VIR


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NASA MidAtlantic started the season this past weekend by running the full course at VIR. The 3.27 mile course has two long straights, but also has some technical portions of the track that reward handling. In short, it is an interesting track to see how car classifications work for ST. The speculation was that the higher horsepower Corvettes and similar would have an advantage over the light-but-popular Factory Five cars.


There was only one ST-1 car - a Z06 Corvette driven to a modest 2:10.


The real competition was expected to be in ST-2 with cars designed to test the limits of the rules. At the front were former track record holders Brian Cates and Dan Elam unveiling their new light ST-2 FFR cars along with some other FFR drivers in various configurations. Former Grand-Am driver Paul Kaiser brought out his Grand-Am Cup Cadillac to take advantage of the rewards for 4-door cars and offset the advantage by running slicks. Anthony Deluca had his fast Mitsubishi EVO running in 4WD to challenge Gregory's Subaru. Rounding out the list of front-runners was Jody Austin's very strong Z06 running heavy but with enough power to run a small city.


Compounding things was the fact that the field would hold an incredible 90 cars on track ranging from the slow BMW Spec E-30s to a well driven Porsche that could have been driven backwards and still beaten most of the field. A short qualifying session meant that almost no one got a clean lap so it was really tough to handicap the field. Cates and Elam had engine problems with their cars during testing and practice which meant they wouldn't start the race. Cates turned a respectable 2:09 on Saturday morning, but Elam had to switch to another class and car when his didn't even get a lap time when it lost a belt.


Enduro qualifying was almost immediately after the sprint race qualifying and with a much smaller field, Kaiser demonstrated that this Caddilac would be an interesting program when he ran a 2:07 in some cleaner traffic. The real test would be the race.


The Porsche and Super Unlimited cars took off at the start, but it was Austin and the Vette taking the early lead for the rest of the field. Kaiser got a ron off VIR's Oak Tree and used every bit of the extra speed to drag race down the 4000' back stretch to the top of HogPen where he got his nose ahead to take over the lead in the battle. They ran nose to tail with Austin turning a 2:09 before Kaiser retired with overheating after running a bit faster with a 2:08.


The 4WD cars would seem to be at a slight disadvantage on the long rolling hills of VIR and despite both cars being driven well, DeLuca and Gregory could only manage a 2:11 and 2:10, respectively. (During the rain on Sunday, Gregory destroyed everything but the Porsche enroute to a second-overall finish well ahead of everything else.)


To help put the laptimes in perspective, the top finishing FFR spec racer (driven by the engineer who designed the cars) drove a 2:15 while the top American Iron car was a 2:10.


The Cadillac was probably the most surprising car - especially since his ratio was something like 9.7:1 instead of the 8.7:1 limit for the class. At 375HP Kaiser is smack in the middle of the power curve. The 4-door advantage clearly helped while the slicks probably weren't worth the penalty when compared to the other cars in the field. The Vettes showed they will probably be the dominant car on long fast tracks while the 4WD and lighter cars may get some benefits on tighter, more technical tracks. The FFR cars showed promise, but it may be a while before they can get sorted to be truly competitive.


Next up will be Road Atlanta for many of the cars on the east coast and then back to VIR. Except for MidOhio for some cars in late spring, it will probably be summer before we know how the ST cars will compete on a tighter technical circuit.


But if we can't tell which cars will dominate, we can see that the racing is going to be close and interesting for some time to come!

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wonderful article, you must have spent a great deal of time chatting with the racers.


One note... I have no idea the Cadillacs declared power/weight, but looking at the huge gains he made on Jody on the back straight, his power-to-weight certainly doesn't appear to be "smack in the middle" of the power curve. This is totally based on actual peformance, not measured data.


Glad this field is growing...lots of cars in the works, including mine. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was where I wanted to race.

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Very, very nice writeup, Dan.


Dave is right, Paul's Caddy is strong! He spanked me on the straights like he was a 6th grade bully. But what a great guy he is. He's as much fun in the paddock as he is on track.


I'm looking forward to running with you guys at Road Atlanta. We Vette guys need to bring more game. See you there!

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I was planning to, but now it doesn't look like we are going. We ended with with all 4 cars having damage from the VIR weekend and with VIR just two weeks later, I am not sure it can all get done.


But I will be doing race reports for all the races we make.

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Good job, Dan--sorry to hear that you couldn't make the race. I got very good reports regarding the ST racers, and I'm very pleased with how the series is going so far, and how the classing formula is working.

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