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July 11, 2012 News
EKN.ca Driver Diary: Phillip Orcic - WSK Euro Series
 

Phillip Orcic ultimately made the switch to the Zanardi chassis during the WSK Euro Series doubleheader at La Conca (Photo: Orcic)
Phillip Orcic ultimately made the switch to the Zanardi chassis during the WSK Euro Series doubleheader at La Conca
(Photo: Orcic)

As part of eKartingNews.ca’s new editorial program for 2012, we will be following the efforts of Canadian’s racing abroad this season. A number of Canada’s top young drivers will be spending time in Europe and we will work to keep the EKN.ca readership up to speed on their performances. This new segment – the EKN.ca Driver Diary – will bring us up close and personal with a handful of racers this year, beginning with British Columbia’s Phillip Orcic. Phillip will be competing in the WSK Euro Series and assorted CIK events this summer, and this installment discusses the races at La Conca in Italy.

Things started on Tuesday in Italy, as I arrived to the track with Antonio Renda, and already it was 30 degrees at 8 o'clock in the morning. We immediately started to build the tent because we had lots of work on the day. As soon as the tent was completed, we started to build up two new chassis. One chassis was the CRG and the other one was the Zanardi. We decided to test both chassis throughout Wednesday and Thursday practice, and at the end of Thursday we would pick one, either the CRG or Zanardi and start working with the better chassis.

After the two new chassis were completed and ready, Antonio and I went and got lunch at the restaurant at the track. At mid-day the temperature was at a high of 40 degrees. In this heat it was difficult for all of us to work. At around 6 pm we headed back to the hotel and got all ready for dinner. We went to Otranto, a small city near the hotel for dinner.

We arrived at the track at 8 am on Wednesday and had two hours and 25 minutes before my first session. This gave my mechanic Antonio enough time to get the engine on the kart and make sure everything was tight. I went to the grandstands to watch the KF3 and KF2 practice sessions, and noticed the track had started to grip up already. I headed back to the tent and started to put my racing suit on, and was thinking how am I going to survive in this heat with my suit and helmet on. It was not just me but everyone was complaining of the heat.

I went out with the Zanardi chassis for the first session and I had to run in my engine and get a feel of what the track conditions were like. After the session I wanted to stay with the Zanardi chassis for another session.

For the next session we went out with new Dunlop tires. I immediately felt that the chassis setup suited new tires better than used ones. I did a time of 46:28, which I think I was one of the fastest that session in KZ2. It was difficult to time all the guys because we did not have transponders on.

For the third session, we transferred the engine and tires from the Zanardi to the CRG . I went out and the chassis was not that bad, but it felt strange. It was not working that well as the Zanardi. I did not want
to give up so soon, therefore we made some changes to the setup and had new tires ready when I came in during the session. I headed out with the used tires and after a couple of laps I came in and Antonio changed my tires. The kart felt better but still felt that I could go faster with it if we changed few things. After six or seven laps I seized my engine coming down the straight and had to stand on the side of the track and watch the other guys for the remainder of the session.

After the sessions, I cleaned both karts and Antonio rebuilt the seized engine and got it all ready for tomorrow. As soon as everything was finished, we went and ate at the restaurant at the track, and then went to the hotel.

After breakfast at the hotel on Thursday we drove to the track, where we again had two hours before our first session. We decided to stick with the CRG for the first two sessions and fix the minor problems I have with it.

I went out with the CRG and just could not get it working with the tires. There was a big increase in the grip level in morning session compared to the day before. Big pieces of rubber were sticking to the track and particularly on the racing line. In many corners I had to go over the curbs on the inside of the corner. So for the second session we changed the caster and ride height in the front and I only hoped it would be better.

We waited a few minutes, then I went out for the second session. The kart was simply not working how I wanted it to, and it was very difficult to make consistent lap times with the chassis. I wanted to switch to the Zanardi chassis and stay with it until the end of the weekend.

For the third session I went out with the Zanardi, and already I felt a
big difference in the chassis, and I felt more comfortable with it in the high grip conditions. Therefore, for the final session we decided to go out on new tires and see how the kart handles with new tires in the grippy conditions.

In the final session I did a time of 46:08, and I knew we were fast, but also two or three other drivers were doing the same times. After the session I went over to Dino Chiesa and we discussed what could be changed to improve the kart's setup. After that I cleaned my kart and helmet and made sure all the bolts on the kart were tight. After everything was done we headed over to the catering tent to eat.

We arrived at the track at 8 o'clock again on Friday with two hours before my first session. Antonio and my dad got the kart all ready for the first session.

For half of the first session I had to run in the new engine, and after that I could push for a couple of laps. Since we all had transponders on, there was timing. At the end of the session I was eighth fastest overall, four tenths off with old tires.

For the second session we just put the better tires on, Everyone except me was on new tires, and at the end of the session I was seventh fastest, only two tenths off the fastest time. My pace on used tires was really good compared to the others.

My next session was at 3:45 and it was the most important, qualifying. I knew that I had the speed and just had to put that one perfect lap together.
 

The high heat and rubber build-up made racing at La Conca very challenging (Photo: Orcic)
The high heat and rubber build-up made racing at La Conca very challenging
(Photo: Orcic)

For qualifying I waited a few minutes before I went out, and soon as I went out I looked for open track space. During my flying lap I was fastest through the first and second sectors, but in the last corner I made a mistake. Because I was on the rubber, the kart started to jump. I ended up fifth, only 0.130 tenths off pole. If I did not make that mistake I would have made the pole position.

After qualifying I discussed with Antonio my mistakes, and after that I went to the beach with my mom in Otranto. It was so hot today, so I had to cool a bit in the sea by swimming. I knew that tomorrow was going to be important with all the races.

We arrived at the track at 7:30 on Saturday, and this gave my dad and my mechanic Antonio enough time to get the kart all ready for the warm-up session.

The kart felt really good in the warm-up with used tires. I ended up fifth overall, and two tenths off the first driver. We decided not to change anything on the kart because the kart worked really well with the used tires.

For the first head I started fifth, and I knew I had to finish in a good spot. The start was difficult because the tires were to hot and sticky, therefore my getaway off the line was not so great. I was eighth after the first corner and maintained that position until the end of the race with m engine temperature at 70 degrees Celsius because I was following the guy in front off me for the whole heat race.

For the second heat I got a really good start and was up in fifth until I got pushed off and fell back. Few corner after I got up the inside of one driver and I guess he did not see me, as he drove straight over the side of me. This second heat came to an end because I had to retire due to a bent tyre rod and steering column.

We decided to go with used tires for the Final 1 race because I had no chance of winning from 12th, while everyone else went with two new tires on the left side of the kart. My mechanic also put different rims on the front to see if we could fix the understeering.

I started 12th for the final and immediately noticed that my pace was a bit faster than a few karts in front of me. I got past a few karts, and was up to eighth. Towards the end of the race I caught the two kart group in front of me. I unfortunately ran out of laps, and was unable to pass them, and had to settle with an eighth place finish. I knew tomorrow we would have a good chance in the first heat with four new tires. After the race I discussed the problems with my mechanic and he got to work on the setup changes. I cleaned my kart after the race and headed back to the hotel to get a good rest.

Since my group was the first out on track at 8 o'clock on Sunday, we arrived at the track at 6:30 am. My mechanic always likes to arrive early to the track and make sure everything is in its place. I had a different setup on the kart for the warm-up that I had to test.

From the first lap, the kart felt much better, and I knew I could do a good time. After the session I went straight to the WSK tent to get the time sheet, and I was surprised because I was first. We did not touch anything on the kart and just waited for the first heat. I had four new tires for the first heat and knew I had to make a good race.

I got a an okay start and and was up to sixth. The first five guys pulled a big gap on the first lap, therefore I was not able to pass them, and had to settle with sixth. After the race I got called to the stewards and they said I jumped the start. I was thinking to myself if I jumped the start I would have gained more positions instead of losing three positions on
the start. The stewards showed me the footage, and I moved like a cm before the lights went off and they gave me a 10 second penalty for that. That put me back to 12th position.

For the second heat I had to start in 12th position and and just finish the race. I got a pretty good start and was up to eighth before the first corner. A couple of laps later I braked so late I saw I could overtake both drivers in front of me, getting past both of them in the corner. I could not gain anymore positions because the leading group was too far in front, so I finished in sixth. After the race I was happy with my pace, because I was really fast and was catching the leading group.
 

A broken seat in the end cost Orcic a well deserved come-back fourth place finish in the Final 2 race in Italy (Photo: Orcic)
A broken seat in the end cost Orcic a well deserved come-back fourth place finish in the Final 2 race in Italy
(Photo: Orcic)

For the Final 2 race I was starting ninth, and I knew it was a 20 lap-race and anything could happen. My mechanic just made a little change to the front end, which would free it up with new tires.

The start was not the best, and therefore I lost a couple of positions. I braked so late and went on the outside coming into the turn three tight hairpin, gaining a few spots. At the end of the first lap I was up to seventh and was preparing to attack the drivers in front of me. A few laps later I passed Martin Doubek for sixth. Two laps later I got by both guys in front of me and was up to fourth. At this point I was happy with my position and just was thinking of not making any mistakes. The first three guys were too far ahead, I honestly did not have the speed to catch them. Two laps from the end I made a mistake in the last corner because the bottom of my seat was gone and I was holding myself to the
steering wheel. Thankfully I only lost one position and finished the race in fifth. If the seat did not brake I would have finished fourth.

Overall I was happy with the result after the race considering I was starting back in ninth. The next race is in Zuera, Spain, where I'm looking forward to making a good result.

Even though it was a hard and difficult weekend in La Conca, I still would like to thank Renda Motorsport and Chiesa Corse for all their hard work.


By Phillip Orcic

Read past Driver Diaries from Orcic HERE
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