Report by Billy Easton
Located at South Point Hotel and Casino just a few miles off of the main strip in Las Vegas, Nevada we found ourselves just about ready to embark on one of the largest indoor carpet races of the American season. With a few weeks worth of testing with the S400 prior to the event, I felt that the chances of doing well were above average.
I arrived at Las Vegas on the Tuesday prior to the event just in time to catch up with Rene, discuss the car and make it down to the ballroom for Registration. The track looked great, pits vast and the sponsor banner hanging high in the sky just behind the driver stand. It definitely looked like a professional event and had many great drivers in attendance like Rheinard, Hara, Moore, Leino, LeMieux, Baker, Burch, Mobers, Koenekoop, Groskamp, Drescher, Honigl, and so many more to name. It was going to be a great shoot out to see who had done the best in preparation prior to the event.
As practice began the traction was actually getting better and better for each heat and looked to be in good condition for when we were scheduled to run our first practice round of rubber tires. After the first day of practice had finished things were looking really good for the Serpent team and especially me. I had run the fastest practice time in rubber tires and the car was handling really well. The story was a bit different for foam tires, having not done any testing the car still needed a set up.
Moving onto day two, the traction was climbing day after day. The rubber car was picking up more and more steering and was getting more difficult to drive. I was changing the car to the best of my ability to get it under control. As far as the foam tire car was concerned, it felt really good but was still a bit off. At the end of the day though, I still easily had a top 10 rubber car and a top 20 foam car.
Day three was upon us and qualification was just about to begin. The days were long and the nights even seemed longer. Round one and two in both classes went well as I was looking at a great positioning in both classes, but still felt that I wanted to strain out some more speed from my cars. I simply wanted to be at the front.
The final day of qualifying was here; I had made the necessary changes to my cars and looked forward to seeing how well I could do. The qualifiers were getting faster and faster as the track increased in traction. After round three had come and gone I was sitting on second qualifier in rubber tires. I was really happy with the result but still needed an easier to drive set up. The foam class was another story; it seemed as if I was stuck in a 10.1 lap time zone I just simply could not get out of. The other drivers had broken into the 9.9â€™s. I was going to make simply subtle changes to my two cars and hope to make leaps forward in the final round of qualifying. To no surprise the last qualifier had come and gone, but was unable to get my cars any faster. However the competition had managed to better there cars and I was bumped down to 5th in rubber and was sitting 9th in the foam B main.
Main day: It was quite obvious that I still had a shot to win the Rubber tires class and I was still hell bent on doing so. I focused my energy into my Rubber car and made one change to better the handling. We sat on the starting line awaiting the horn to sound. As I sat fifth on the grid the horn went off, I left Andy Moore at the line and easily drafted Baker down the straight away to over take him in the first sweeper. The car felt like it was on rails, Rheinard was next in my sites and before he had realized I was by him in the 3rd turn. My sites were then sat on Hara and LeMieux soon to follow. After one lap complete I passed Hara in the second turn just after the sweeper. LeMieux was now just in front of me and had no chance against the momentum I had carried to him. I was just behind him getting ready to run down the straight away when my car traction rolled off the track into the fence. Unfortunately the car had picked up a tweak and was now over steering. I made it another lap still in 2nd, caught a corner and was mauled by a number of vehicles landing me somewhere at the back of the grid. The race victory was now a dream shattered. I finished the race in 9th position; it was unfortunate for the car was easily a top five finisher. Although this battle had been lost due to a traction roll, the war is still not over. Serpent, the team and I will continue to develop and advance the handling of the S400 which I think is easily one of the most deadly Touring cars on the market.
As for the event, it was top notch and ran really well. The races were ran to the set schedule and finished very early on Sunday giving us time to head out on the town. I would most definitely attend this event next year and hope that those, who were unable to attend this year will save their hard earned pennies and try it out for there selves in the future.
Source : Serpent