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The team is back from their second event with GridLife, this time at Watkins Glen in western New York. Carlos Mendez raced the Condor Spec E9X in the GLTC racing series. If you read our first entry, you know the E90 330i is built for the Spec E9X racing series. After Carolina Motorsports Park, the team realized the car needed more mid-corner grip, so the biggest change for this event was a larger tire setup. The wheels were upgraded to an 18x9.5'' square setup, and the tire size went from 255/40-17 up to 275/35-18. The car was still running the required 90 pounds of ballast to fit the GLTC power-to-weight ratio.
There was no test day, so Friday’s early morning warm-up was key for Mendez to familiarize himself with the track, having only driven it in the simulator prior to this event. Carlos went out for qualifying and secured 20th in a 48 car field, with a time of 2:11.387. This isn’t as high up as he wanted to be, but with 4 races over the weekend, there was plenty of time to see what the car and driver were capable of. Pole was set with a 2:06.729.
The weather was calling for rain all weekend, and the skies surely opened up. Fortunately the team was prepared for rain with a set of GLTC-approved Continental rain tires and a front windshield defogger.
Race 1 was rain-soaked, and all 48 cars took the start. Mendez was able to navigate his way through traffic early, picking up a handful of spots on the first lap. By the checkered flag, he had moved up 8 positions, finishing in 12th. The climb up the esses proved to be challenging in the rain, yet a top speed of 136 MPH was recorded by the GLTC-compliance AIM Solo. According to the GridLife data inspector, that was the highest MPH in that race amongst the cars that were checked. Race 1 only had one single-car incident, which was surprising given the dangerous conditions. After the warm-up, qualifying, and Race 1, Friday was concluded.
Saturday brought Races 2, 3, and 4, and the forecast was for rain all day, with a slight chance of clearing in the afternoon. The starting order for Race 2 was determined by the best lap times in Race 1, giving Mendez a starting position of 12th (the same position he finished). Once the green flag dropped, he was quick to make up spots early-on, picking up a total of 5 spots in the wet conditions, and finishing Race 2 in P7. Unfortunately the slippery conditions sent a couple cars into the tire barriers.
The Condor E90 was properly set up for the limited grip levels, the team was excited to see a top 10 finish in the highly competitive GLTC series.
It continued raining all day long, and the start of Race 3 was cold and slick. Mendez started in 7th, and moved up one spot, with a weekend-best 6th place finish. The second half of Race 3 was spent defending against a K24-swapped Miata. The team was happy with the wet performance of the E90, but the fact that the car did not have aero was showing in the sweepers and tighter sections of the track, especially against the nimble Miata.
The final race of the weekend, Race 4, was delayed due to a bad crash in one of the time attack sessions. Race 4 always has an invert of the front of the field, and the number of inverted positions is randomly picked. This time it was the top 11 that were inverted, which did not affect Mendez’s starting position of 6th, but it meant that the cars he had already passed were starting in front of him, and the fast guys were going to be pressuring him from behind.
The goal for Race 4 was to make up positions early, and try to hold off the faster cars behind. The Condor E90 had a good start, and Mendez was able to make it up to 4th mid-way through the race. Eventually, some of the faster cars caught their stride and passed Mendez in the closing laps. When the checkered flag dropped, he was in 7th.
GLTC’s points system is based on the overall result from the weekend, with each of the 4 races counting towards the final weekend result. Ultimately, Mendez secured 8th place overall for the weekend. Team Condor was thrilled with the result, especially considering the car has no aero. You may be able to guess what the next update will be before returning to GLTC.
The cold temps and dreary rain were not enough to hamper the energy of a GridLife event, and Team Condor can’t wait until the next one.