Sebring 2019: Beating The Heat

Updated: Aug 27

Qualifying 1: 1st Race 1: 1st Race 2: 1st Qualifying 2: 1st Race 3: 1st Race 4: 1st

The QDB Racing squad was back at the track last weekend, following our Spec E30 (SE30) driver Olivier Bellanger. The weekend was soaked with Florida heat as temperatures easily rose above 90° F. Although the weather was brutal, everyone was ready to race. Coincidentally, the heat may have helped Olivier who set blistering lap times even during his first session of the weekend. In practice & qualifying on Saturday, Olivier managed to lap around two seconds faster than any of his fellow SE30 drivers.

Olivier was very happy with the car after qualifying, so there were no set-up changes required before the first race. Olivier set off from pole in race 1, maintaining his lead while feeling strong pressure from behind. Olivier kept a level-head & focused on the road ahead of him, which led to him pulling away from the field. Olivier crossed the line a staggering eight seconds ahead of the field. With one race remaining on Saturday, Olivier & the team contemplated some minor adjustments such as rotating the tires from left to right & vice versa. After the car was prepared, Olivier stepped back into the cockpit & headed out for his final race of the day.

The race started in the late afternoon, which meant that the track surface wasn’t far from boiling as the heat from the day soaked into the pavement. Luckily, some cheeky set-up tweaks allowed Olivier’s tires to remain grippy relative to his competitors. He used this to full advantage by pulling out a huge lead of fourteen and a half seconds by the time he reached the checkered flag, as well as setting a seriously quick lap time of 2:37.7 considering the track conditions. The first day of racing was over, with Olivier handily winning both races. After a thorough check of the car, it was time to relax & start thinking about strategy for Sundays’ races.

The car ran perfectly during Sunday morning qualifying, with the water and oil temperatures in the optimum range. Olivier, noticing how good the car felt, decided to throw down some hard laps. He managed to break a track record by running a 2:36.8 around the Sebring circuit, making him almost three seconds per lap quicker than any other SE30. He carried this momentum into the first race, although he gained some company. Olivier got a good start, but was battling with one of his competitors, Dan Goldburg, through the first series of corners. Olivier settled into 2nd place by the end of the first lap but stayed on Dan’s rear bumper. Lap after lap, the almost non-existent gap between them remained. But after almost thirty minutes of following Dan, Olivier’s car was feeling the heat. His tires were getting slippery, and his water temperature was getting so high that he had to pull out on the straightaways to give the car some cool air. The time was ticking, so Olivier found any opportunity he could and passed Dan for the lead. Olivier was able to pull away quite a bit afterwards, winning yet another race.

The final race ended up similarly to the rest of the weekend with Olivier pulling away and crossing the finish line over eight seconds clear of the field. A great weekend for the team, and certainly a fun weekend for Olivier. Here’s what he had to say about his weekend: “Everything went pretty well, [we had] four races and four wins. [It was] a pretty good weekend of domination. It was something we needed after missing the first event [of the season]. We made up quite a few points thanks to Tom from Panzer Performance. He made the car feel amazing and it gave me confidence all weekend. Together we were able to maximize the cars’ capabilities & push the car to its absolute limit. We should have a pretty tight championship now, with many great drivers like Scott McCay, Corey Smith, Carlos Mendez, and others competing. I would like to thank Quentin & Tyla from QDB Racing, my dad, and everyone at the track wearing a Panzer Performance shirt this weekend.”

We think that sums up the weekend very well! Olivier will be back on track at Homestead-Miami Speedway in August racing his Spec E30 again. Special thanks to our sponsor Hooked On Driving who put on a great track-day event at Sebring on the Friday of Olivier’s race weekend.


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