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Build: Ok, 13 cars on a track meant for no more than 10. I figured most would go for the front with big start speeds and bids so I zigged while they zagged (hopefully). I'm going to try to run from behind with 20ss, a big but not huge car, and lots of wear. Besides, I like the flexibility of 60/60 cars. No top speed though, not at Imola. Good – just John and I with 20 SS.

Bids: I always like to throw a skill or two in from the back just in case it might gain me a row. I did absolutely not expect it to gain me 7th position. Extreme value out of that 1 point bid, right behind a bid of 6. It won’t do me a lot of good with the 60’s and even a 100 ss behind me but I won’t be in last. I quickly fall from 7th to 9th off the start but I'm further up than I had expected to be, pre-race.

Lap 1: My goal in the first lap is wear preservation and efficiency. I do pretty well, only spending wear in Tosa, Rivazza, & the chicanes. I have 19 left going into lap 2 and only slipped one spot (10th).

Lap 2: I start pushing up in lap 2. John, Jeff, and I have big wear advantages and I start my push before they do. I want to be in a position to do some passing as the third lap begins but I can’t do it from way back. Jeff has the same idea, catches up to me, but then mis-plots coming out of Rivazza. By the start of lap 3, I’m in the secondary chase pack (9th) with twice the wear of anyone around me.

Lap 3 (first half): On Turn 33, I use my big chip to force pass Bruce, in spin recovery but blocking. I also pass Chris in that first corner, who is suffering from exhausted tires. I don’t see Jim or Don spending wear (3 & 4 left, respectively) in Villaneuve so I go for it and drop 2 to pass them. I still have 6 wear left. I’m in 5th place with only the primary chase pack in front. There’s that nifty little maneuver through Tosa that can allow you to appear out of nowhere – end on the inside 40 at 80 and you can rocket out at 120. I’m too far away... dang. At this point I figure if I’m going to be on the podium, I need to take a risk. I careen into the Tosa 40 at 100 and put 2 chips in (I’m safe w/ a 3!). Now I can zoom out at 140 and I’m with the front-runners.

Lap 3 (last half): I’ve got Dave, Cody, Mario, & Claudio in front. I can’t beat Dave – he still has wear, will cross one turn before me, and is too good to screw it up. Cody is out of wear and I have twice what Mario & Claudio have. Maybe 2nd. It’s hard to pass cars in this sector so I’ll hold my powder for Rivazza. It helps that I have a pretty good idea of how my Italian friends drive* but I know less about Cody’s driving. I guessed correctly in the run-up to Rivazza and would be able to exit the complex in 2nd with no real threat to lose it.

Congratulations Dave on an extremely well run race. Cody, a nice finish to complete the podium. I’m not sure we’ve ever raced together – I look forward to the rest of the season with you. Last but not least, thanks to Jack for guiding us through this treacherous track.

See y’all in the Black Forest!