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     English: To sponge or not to sponge, is that a question?
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Posts: 72
Registered: 27-7-2004
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wink.gif posted on 10-4-2006 at 16:55 Reply With Quote
To sponge or not to sponge, is that a question?

Scheveningen, april 8-th 2006. I arrived at the premises of SRC De Ridder which would be the venue for the second race in the 2006 season of the LMS. It would be a sprint race in the LMS class thus requiring sponge tires instead of the Ortmans used in the first (group C) race of the season. For this rookie it would only be the second race ever (after Moers were I became last) and it would be the very first time to try sponge tires. I didn't have any training on sponge as well because in Amsterdam Noord we only drive with Ortman (alike) tires. My aim was to improve on my result in Moers which didn't look like a big challenge but that would turn out otherwise...

After being welcomed by Rob the Ridder and his crew who really made it a superb weekend for everyone (thanks again Rob and friends!) I prepared my fantasy design Coca Cola Panoz GT-R to go around the track for the very first time. After deslotting several times within this one lap I took some good advice from Nick "the Wizzkid" to bring down the pace and drive around the track in a slowly manner to get used to track and tires. I immediately noticed the difference between the sponge and Ortman setup. Gosh, this was going to be a learning weekend indeed!

Slowly I learned to keep the car in the slot and after a couple of hours I could start to make some laptimes, just for the record and to see some progress, if any. Because of the presence of the guys from Noord on the training I knew the fastest times on the various tracks were very representative for what I could expect in the main race on Sunday. Well, no need to go into details here. I was about 2 seconds slower! Driving home in the evening I decided not to work on the setup of the car to find the last tenth of a second, I needed to find two seconds! I concluded that it had everything to do with my driving skills and inexperience with sponge.

Sunday, day of the race. I came to Scheveningen early, for some extra practice and to build in the new engine. Luckely for me Mack Wachter helped me to solder the engine in the car for which I would like to thank Mack a lot since I am a rookie on that subject as well. Last week I soldered for the first time in 30 years and I managed to put in some extra weight in the car ;) Still early and having the track allmost for myself I started to drive a little more. And with some improvement as well, laptimes went down to little more than 9 seconds but still way to slow.

Alas qualification came way to early and I was selected to go first, probably the organization wanted me to set a benchmark for the rest of the drivers ;-) I decided to drive a little defensive and to put in a time without deslotting in the very first corner. I can't recall the exact time but at the end it was the slowest (not a real surprice) and little more than a second behind pole position. But still my best time sofar.

In the first race everything went smooth, I managed to become third out of five not to far from the leader. In the second race I was too optimistic because of first race's result and I drove some bad stints, especially in the outer lanes. So I became fourth out of five solely for the fact that Auke's car wasn't driving properly at all due to technical problems. Because Erwin's car had real technical problems he retired for the second race so I managed to become second but last on a shared 21-th place out of 23 with 19 points overall.

So what's up Doc, Bugs Bunny would say. The way one drives on sponge tires is really different from the way one drives on Ortman. With sponge one can 'trow and drift' the car around the corners where with Ortman one has to drive more sensitive and try to go smoothly, avoiding drifting as much as possible to keep grip. For me this means I was breaking much to early and almost came to a halt in the corners. All this resulted in loosing to much momentum and speed. So to perform better on sponge I will have to practise more before racing again. Luckely for me I have plenty of time to accomplish this.

There has been some discussions about the tires, should it be sponge or Ortman. My opinion is that both have their charmes. It demand a different driving style but in the end I have had as much fun on Ortman as I had on sponge. So in my opinion the current status, sponge for LMS and Ortman for Group C races is a very good one and I hope that the organisation will keep it this way for the next couple of years. It makes it more difficult for the drivers but in the end it is the best driver who will win the race, either on sponge or on Ortman.

For me the only decision to make is to maybe change my nickname from CarreraHenk to SpongeBob :-).

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posted on 10-4-2006 at 21:06 Reply With Quote
THX for the nice article

And also glad to hear you had a good time....
Sounds like you have made a good analysis of what was going on last weekend and I'm sure you'll incorporate the results into a better performance in your next race...

Keep it up sponge bob :)

With kind regards
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posted on 11-4-2006 at 21:38 Reply With Quote

Like your story.... Spongehenk!
Aswell... like the way, you "drive" your Inglish.

:) :D, Onno.

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posted on 30-4-2006 at 07:59 Reply With Quote

For wooden tracks, sponge is the only way to fly. Like real racing, picking the right compound is important. Depending on track conditions that day, I have to pick from one of four brands (Kelly, PSE, Alpha, or JK) before I race.
They all have different grip characteristics.
Guess you are discovering, like all mew racers, you're gonna get your a** handed to you for a few (maybe quite a few) races.

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