Teams in the paddock have been busy checking weather apps and studying radar as rain is expected for the 25 Hours of Thunderhill this weekend. The rain and wind will bring a twist to Friday afternoon’s qualifying session and Saturday’s endurance that starts at 11 a.m. during a weekend of weather in which flash flooding is expected across Northern California.
Dragon Fly Motorsports driver Christian Guirguis is one of those keeping an eye on the sky because he’ll be driving an open cockpit E0 car on the Thunderhill Raceway Park track.
“You don’t get as wet as you would think,” said Guirguis, who lives outside Seattle, a city that gets it fair share of rain. “Once you get moving, it’s not that bad.”
Thanks to aerodynamics and Rain-X on the visor, Guirguis says he stays relatively dry despite not having a roof. His biggest concern is the spray. “It’s actually the spray that gets you the most, if you are behind other cars,” he said. “You try to stay out of spray when you are out on the track.”
The team has been following three weather apps, all showing different forecasts for the weekend, Guirguis said. During Thursday’s test session it was raining, Guirguis said, but one app showed there was no precipitation. “I’m pretty sure this is rain I’m looking at,” he said with a laugh.
With the impending rain, teams will be studying the radar to decide when to make the switch to rain tires. For Ron Gayman, owner of RA Motorsports, a team that is campaigning two Mazda Miatas, this weekend, his approach is the same whether it’s dry or raining.
“It’s a survival event. You’ve got to keep the car on the track. You can’t get off the track, let’s put it that way,” Gayman said. “They need to work up to a pace that they are comfortable with, keeping the car safe, staying out of the way of the fast cars. Again, it’s survival. Pace isn’t the number one priority—safety is.”
Guirguis said racing in the rain requires longer brake zones, taking a wider line in some corners and driving conservatively.
“When it starts to get dry, you are trying to pick the speed back up. You don’t want to be still driving wet speeds in the dry,” Guirguis said. “It’s a feel thing and every time it rains, the track is a little bit different. The track in the dry is very similar time after time, you kind of learn your braking points and it just repeats. In the rain, you have to be on your toes.”