Joel Miller – A Steep Learning Curve

Written by Team USA. Posted in Driver Blogs, Joel Miller

Published on October 28, 2007 with No Comments

Dartford, Kent, England (October 28, 2007) – When arriving back at Brands Hatch Sunday morning it was evident that rain was going to be an issue most of the day. Also, it was getting colder with the increase of moisture in the air. In my mind, it was an easy decision that rain tires were going to go on the car because of the damp circuit. However, to my surprise, when I walked into the pit garage slicks were the current decision. In England, unless rain is falling from the sky and the track is not 100 percent wet then slicks it is. Just a small bit of information that I thought I would pass onto you!

Anyways, rain did start to fall heavily before the first race. Rain tires went on the car while Pat and I talked with our driver coach about racing in the wet at Brands. We went over as much as possible in the time given. Standing starts (this was going to be my first time), how and when to use the boost, and in general how to drive these cars in the wet. For me, this was going to be my second start ever driving in the rain. This past year in the Barber Championship we were fortunate to have all dry races, but looking back at it now I wish we had some wet outings to bring up my wet weather driving.

I got off the line successfully when the lights went out for race one which was a goal of mine. Every corner had something new for me to learn. Control the turbo coming off the turns; the dry line had a good amount of grip; braking capacity of the car; and not to mention no visibility from the spray. A few laps in, a caution came out for a car in the gravel trap. This bunched the field together again for the restart. Making a good start and pass into Paddock Hill Bend gave me good confidence to move forward. I was running right behind normal series championship names, but underestimated the grip going into Turn One. I had the car saved on the last bit of pavement, but at Brands Hatch there is a large section of painted roadway on the exit. When the car hit the paint it was game over as I went off into the gravel trap. Unfortunately, that was the end of race 1.

The start of race 2 did not go as planned as I got too much wheel-spin off the line. Falling back a few places from my 8th place starting position, I fell in line to begin making my way forward. The contact in race one gave the car a massive front end vibration that only intensified during braking. It was a difficult problem to have in the rain when the car was jumping around in the brake zones. Making sure to keep it on the track I ended up finishing 12th.

Race 3 presented a total restart after a red flag appeared due to a driver crashing hard going down paddock hill. I started 9th on the complete restart, my first time on the inside. Coming off the line in decent fashion and getting through turn 1, I found myself alongside my team mate going to Druids (turn 2). I tried holding the outside but was pushed wide and could not put the power down. This resulted in losing a few positions. Feeling more comfortable with each lap completed, I continued to push and caught the group in front of me. I made a few overtaking maneuvers going into the hairpin, and when the checkered came out I had worked my way up to 8th with my teammate recovering from a spin to finish 9th.

I have to take this weekend as valuable training to wet weather driving/racing. I really wanted to be in the top 5, but will take everything I learned this weekend and apply it to next weekend at Snetterton. The competition this year is top notch with British drivers going toward the McLaren/Autosport award. This makes Pat and I bring our game up to a higher level, which will be another tool for us in our U.S. competition next year. Thanks to all of our supporters back home for their continued support!

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