Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
4/20/07 8:02 p.m.

We always look forward to running at Atwater for two reasons. First, its a huge site laid up in clean, smooth concrete, which promotes big, fast courses. This year's Tour courses were typical, with emphasis on large sweepers. Secondly, the San Francisco region knows how to put on a major event, and always exceeds expectations. For example, we were fed each day for free! Friday evening was a major buffet dinner, and each day of competition we had free lunch of sandwiches and sides.

The only downside this year was the weather. We had been in CA for six weeks to do the San Diego Tour, El Toro Pro and now this event, and had nary an inclement day. But nature made up for it by dumping rain on much of Saturday's competition. We ran in the second heat and had a drying condition from rain in the first heat. We used this opportunity to try out our rain tires, a set of the Goodyear F1 GS-D3 in 215/45-16. These things were awesome, with very consistent breakaway that paid big dividends in drivability in the rain. We were wishing it would start raining again, they were that good!

As the track continued to dry, we switched back to our standard tires, the 205/40-16 Falkens that we had been running all year. In fact, its the same set, nearing the end of their useful life. Being slightly conservative on our single driest run, we were in second place after Saturday's competition, with a 3 tenths deficit.

Sunday, Mother Nature played her cards again with some very strong winds throughout the day. Ignoring that, we pulled out all the stops and really brought our A-game to the table, and took the win going away by just under 2 seconds.

There was some drama, though, as we did a NASCAR tire change before our final runs. There was a very fast section that led into a huge sweeping turn, which finally led into a tighter slalom. With our short 16" Falkens, we were forced to shift to third to carry speed across the back of the course into the big sweeper. But there was no good place to downshift consistently without upsetting the car in the sweeper or the slalom. So we slappd on the taller 15" tires for the staggered setup we had used some in Dixie, and that proved to be perfect to allow us to carry second acroos the back, bang the limiter a couple of times, and finesse the entire to both the big sweeper and then the slalom. Options are always good to have.

Next, we move back to the middle of the country for events in Arkansas and Texas. But before that, we have some exciting testing to do on the Bridgestone RE-01R in some new sizes that should work very well for our Miata and Civic. More on that in an upcoming entry.

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