Serpent factory team driver Paolo Morganti is no stranger to the Winternats having being champion in 1:10 Sedan for the past two years.
Once again the Venezualan was a leading contender for this year’s title TQ’ing his 720 08 for the 2008 edition of the big Florida race but in the end the simpliest of items cost him the hat trick of titles.
Here is Paolo’s own personal account of the event –
I enjoy this race every year. Competition is really high and I enjoy meeting old and new friends coming from all over the world.
Arriving at the Fort Myers track on Sunday morning I set out my pit space. I got there really early so as to give myself some time to relax and talk with different people while waiting for the track to be open. I spent the whole of Sunday and Monday testing both the 960 and the 720, some setups combinations and engines. This track is hard on fuel mileage, so I had to work a lot in order to find the right combination to make full run time.
Ahead of qualifying I was quite satisfied with both my cars. Almost every year, the rain is part of this event so itâ€™s important to make sure to have a decent clean run in the first day in order to be able to be safe for the next ones if it rains. Well this year was no exception. Rain was a factor of the race again making things difficult for many people. The organizers where able to put five full rounds, which gave plenty of opportunities to everybody. For the first time, we ran at night at the Fort. This was really neat but scary to run under the lights, specially in 1:8. I mean, the track is already dangerous when you are able to see, imagine under the lights at night!!! Really incredible!!
Qualifying for me went pretty good. In 1:10 Sedan I was able to set the pace from the first day and my time was never challenged so I end up with the TQ spot. In 1/8 scale I had some small incidents and mistakes, but at the end I was able to qualify in third spot on the grid. So I was quite happy with the performance.
Friday was a day off since I had no racing to do, so I spent the entire day working on my cars together with Gianni and helping some of my team mates that were racing that day. In the afternoon we had an open track to test. I used this time to test some engines and tires in preparation for the final. Again I felt quite good and confident for the next day.
Saturday was the big day, the finals. First was Sedan. My car and engine package felt really good since warm up so I started the race and took it easy in order not to kill the tires from the beginning. DJ overtook the second position driver and he was right behind me. We both managed to pull away from the pack and at the first pit stop we had already almost half a lap on the field. Everything was going well and at the second pit stop I had almost a lap on the second position. But then unbreakable broke!!!. When Gianni was about to lift my car for refueling, the plastic tie strap broke. At that point he was not able to do a fast refuel on my car anymore, so my pit stops where 4 to 5 seconds longer than usual. I knew right there that was going to be hard to win, so I start pushing to the limit my car. I lost overall 27 seconds because of T Strap problem (also Gianni had to refuel me with the bottle and was never sure if the tank was completely full, and in fact I ran out of fuel one time) and finished in second, just 8 seconds behind the winner. I was kind of disappointed because we pay so much attention to the preparation of the car and just the thing we overlooked broke. But overall I have to say it was not that bad. My car handled excellent the whole 45 minutes and the engine was superb.
I had some time to recover and then it was the turn of the 1:8 Final. The car felt really good in warm up and after the driver introduction we start the race. The first minutes it was fine, I was in second able to keep the pace of the first place. I was saving my tires because I was on a different tire strategy. After the first pit stop I was in second just a couple of seconds behind the fist place when suddenly my car started to behave erratic. From that point I was not driving the car, but the car was kind of driving me. So I managed to keep the car in the track with a solid 2nd position when my engine stops around the 25-minute mark. From the way it stops, I knew something was wrong. Gianni restarted the engine but it stalled again. We tried one more time but the same, so after that we decided to stop. I was not happy at all. I knew that something was wrong in my car and I was not able to win the race but I could have finished second. I realize after the race that the problem in the car was that the rear sway bar was loose and that the front one way was damaged. On the engine, one of the clips that retain the piston pin came off and damaged the engine. I am not sure if was my fault or not, cause I did change the rod and test the engine on Friday, hard to say.
Overall, it was quite a positive week. We showed the potential of our ’08 cars and we learned a lot of new things. Itâ€™s a shame that I did not win, but this is racing, next time! I was happy to share good times with many friends and share knowledge and experiences.
I would like to thank all my sponsors for their support in particular Serpent, Mega, Max Power, Xceed, KoPropo, and Maxys fuel. Big thanks also to the Ft. Myers crew for putting on a really good show once again.
Source : Serpent