Since we're already approaching the midway point in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, I thought I would share all the aspects that go into simply starting a race. In other words, how to qualify at the front.
In a series as competitive as the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, qualifying is extremely important for a sprint-format race. With only 45-minutes of racing, there's not much time to make up positions, so your starting position is a crucial step to where you will finish. I've been fortunate to start on the front row of each race this season – Sebring, Barber, COTA – so I am going to share the steps it takes, and steps that I follow each race weekend, in order to qualify at the front.
Step 1: Knowledge is Key
The first step to laying down a great lap time is knowing your Porsche and the track. Your car will generally have the same characteristics – give or take a few set up changes – throughout each qualifying session, but each track has a different personality. It’s important to be aware of these differences so that you can change youry driving style to something that suits the track better.
Step 2: Seat Time
I'm sure it seems obvious, but you can never have too much seat time. Testing and practice is extremely important because the more laps you have the more you start to discover what lines and setup changes work.
Step 3: It’s All About the Timing
Making sure that you're positioned well to get several flying laps. This may sound easy but it's actually one of the most difficult aspects of qualifying. When going out on track for qualifying you have to account for the number of laps it will take for your tires to be at their optimal pressure and temperature. When they get to that point you then have to make sure there is an open track ahead of you for at least two laps.
I'm constantly thinking ahead to see what I have to do on my warmup lap to put myself in the best position for the flying lap.
Step 4: Finding the “Sweet Spot”
Once you've positioned yourself to take your first flying lap it's very easy to over-drive your Porsche and make mistakes. You have to be very careful trying to find the “sweet spot” between going over the limit and not reaching the limit of the car. It's a constant balancing act of trying to maximize the fullest potential of what your Porsche can do.
For me these are the steps I always follow, and constantly try to improve upon, in order to position myself at the front of the field when the green flag drops.
My next IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA race will be at the end of the month at Watkins Glen on June 29th - July 2nd.
A new face to watch out for. Jake Edison, 21, of Littleton, Colorado is the newest member of 2016 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup championship winning team, Kelly-Moss Road and Race. Eidson's resume was developed in both open-wheel and sports car racing, with highlights that include winning the 2013 Team USA Scholarship and more recently, the Hurley Haywood Scholarship, which landed him a full-season ride with Kelly-Moss Road and Race for 2017. Eidson will be the one to keep an eye on ahead of the 2017 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season.