Danny’s final pit stop was not as good as his previous stop, in truth it would take a lot to beat that pit stop, but it was mistake free.
For most of the cars, especially those on the lead lap, the time the final mandatory stop took was governed by the fuel going into the tank. Tyres would be changed during the stop but they would be changed in less time that the refuelling took and with the amount of fuel that had to go into the car and the rate of fuel flow both being governed the pit stops of all teams was all down to how error free the team could be, not what needed to be done.
But it wasn’t all down to the crew, the driver had their fair share of things to do as well. They had to stop, on slippery concrete with aging, slick tyres, within centimetres of their mark in order to give the team the best chance to complete the stop mistake free. More than a few centimetres either side of the drivers mark and everything from spare tyres, to rattle guns to the crew member themselves needed to be shifted and that wasted precious seconds.
Another thing the driver had to be cautious of was spinning the wheels at any point while the car was stopped. The car had to be on the ‘go-jacks’ whenever it was being worked on, go-jacks being attached to the chassis and lifted all four wheels off the ground with air. A driver in a hurry could easily let their clutch slip slightly making the wheel spin. If such a spin happened, even at slow speed, while the car was in the air, the driver would be black flagged within several laps and they would have to do a tour of the pit lane. There was safety reasons for such a rule, which pretty much every team up and down pit lane had been caught doing at least once, but a black flag and subsequent tour through the pits with the speed limiter on was a race ending mistake and one they all tried not to do.
However the biggest potential problem any driver had was stalling the car once the go-jacks were let go and the tyres his the concrete. The cars had a lot of power and taking off they could easily spin the rear wheels on any surface but if the driver dropped the clutch too quickly, tramped the accelerator too much, or too little, or just mistimed their take off time the car would stall. A stalled car usually only took a matter of seconds to restart but when all the cars and teams were matched so evenly that matter of seconds could easily see the driver dropping a spot or two.
But Danny was in his zone and had to worry about none of that, his only problem was that Tony didn’t either because Tony’s pit stop, although three hundreths of a second slower was mistake free as well. As any driver in his position would have done Danny had hoped to make his pit stop and come out the other side having gained precious seconds on Tony but instead he came out gaining next to nothing.
It wasn’t until he started to settle back into his rhythm, heading down the back straight, that the call came over his radio telling him what he didn’t particularly want to hear. His team was able to confirm, through the TV coverage going to the national broadcaster, that Tony’s team were able to put a set of green tyres on his car. Green tyres not only meant more grip on the racing line but with the right driver they also meant up to three seconds on the lap time boards.
In the fairness of racing Danny, no driver, was allowed to deliberately block a car from passing and if caught doing so three times the driver would be blacked flagged. What that meant for Danny was that for the last thirty laps, after Tony caught up, he could hold his line and make it difficult for Tony to pass but not stop him from making any manoeuvre.
One thing Danny did have on his side was that green tyres on Tony’s car really only offered him a big advantage in the first ten or so laps of their life. After that, even with Danny’s tyres being another ten laps old, the advantage would be next to nothing and winning the race would come down to who could drive their car on the ragged edge, on aging tyres, to the finish line.
As much as no driver liked dealing with back markers in the field Danny also knew they could help his cause. The more they fought with back markers the quicker Tony’s tyres would age and if per chance he could get a back marker in between himself and Tony the ability to pull away would be greater. The problem was that it would be several laps before they caught up on any significant back markers that might fulfil that wish for Danny.
Although the news about Tony’s green tyres was not what Danny wanted to hear he pushed on and pushed on hard. He had a precious few car lengths on Tony and with no back markers to contend with and Tony not riding his tail Danny intended to drive the car as close as he could to the edge without tipping over it.
Driving harder would mean more fuel usage but fuel was not going to be an issue. Tyre wear would happen faster leaving him less grip and more chance of losing traction, especially in corners and temperatures would run higher but Danny knew he could do it. He also knew his skill and ability as a high speed racer was going to be put to the test, not unlike it had been with Fittzy in the previous race, however unlike racing against Fittzy he trusted Tony not to drive like a fool and try and beat him by taking him out of the race.
All he had to do was put all that into practise.
Previous Racing story here.