October 19, 2020 – Area 81 Racing overcame many obstacles in Rounds 9 & 10 to score a 4th and 3rd place finish at Pittsburgh International Race Complex over the weekend. The team dealt with extreme weather fluctuations, ranging from 29 to 65 degrees, making it very difficult to find grip.
With the rest of the F1000 field sitting out during the first practice session on Friday, Tim braved the cold, damp conditions. He spent the first 4-5 laps trying to heat up the tires while getting acclimated to the track. The gamble resulted in a nasty spin and damaged diffuser, which caused the team to miss the second session as they worked feverishly to repair the damage.
After qualifying a disappointing 4th for Race 1, Tim was poised to move up the field on Saturday. However, he developed a severe vibration on the first lap and slowly limped the car back to pit lane to torque the wheels. The adventure cost the team 2 laps, making it impossible to recover.
Race 2 on Sunday was much more exciting. After qualifying 4th once again, the #12 car on the outside pole spun off in turn 1 after the green flag. The pole setter in #93 caught fire midway through the first lap and Tim found himself squarely in 2nd place with a large lead over the #12 car. The fire caused a full course caution and brought out the safety car, which allowed the field to bunch up once again. Tim was unable to hold the position after the race went green but held on to finish 3rd. He kept the leaders in striking distance and the top three competitors were within 0.15 seconds in lap times.
Tim Pierce, driver #81 – “All in all it was a good weekend. The weather made it really hard to find grip because we couldn’t get heat in the tires until the afternoon. I tried to steal a session in hopes to get a head start on the competition. Unfortunately, I damaged the car and missed the next session while we fixed it. That put us behind the 8-ball and we had to fight the rest of the weekend. We really missed our head mechanic, Denis Schembri. I forgot to torque the wheels on Saturday after I installed new brake pads and I nearly lost the left rear wheel on the first lap. I thought I had 2nd place wrapped up on Sunday but the caution allowed the #12 car to catch back up. The same thing happened here in the spring and it cost us a win. Fortunately, I kept the top two in my sights and set a career lap time. We’ll get ‘em next year!”
Area 81 is still firmly in 2nd place in North American F1000 Championship points but anything can happen with one weekend to go. The team heads to Road Atlanta in Brazelton, Georgia on Halloween weekend for the season finale. As always, thanks to the crew, series, sponsors, and competitors for a fantastic weekend!