My location: United States
Jun 14, 2009

Hello Racers,

This past weekend was the first ever Bumod GP International Race held at the world class facility in Bursa Turkey. I was invited to attend this race and though it would be a great experience. Michael Salven, myself and other racers from all over the world were in attendance. This would be my first race out of the country and I was excited to see what it was like.

I started the very long journey from the United States to Turkey on Tuesday June 2 and after 16 hours of flight and 4 more hours of a bus I finally got to the track late Wednesday June 3. When I arrived to the airport I was with Scott Rister who also came from the US, we meet with some other drivers and waited for the bus.

After the long bus ride we arrived at the track. This track has the best facility I have ever seen. We have some nice track here in the states; like Kissimmee and 301, but this was just different. The track was big, flowing and fresh asphalt. They had a full restaurant, very big drivers stand and more. We were not going to start running till Thursday so Scott and myself got on the track that night to break in a motor. This track was a typical Euro style track and had grass infields. Very different for me and the first time I ever drove this type of track.

Thursday came and it rained all day. We did not get any track time on Thursday so I just started playing with the new Serpent 733, it was my first time seeing it. I was just putting a set-up on it and waiting for the first time on the track. We hung out at the track all day and just joked around waiting. Thursday came and gone and now it was Friday morning and we could now start practice. My plan was to get some time with the new car, but to focus on 1/8 to practice for the Worlds in Lostallo.

The first time out with the sedan it felt really good. I was smiling from ear to ear. It had a lot of steering with good stability. Not to mention the design look is awesome, very open and easy to work on.

At times I was fast, but most of the time I was plagued with problems, typical of a prototype. I would forget to tighten something or did not know that something needed to be done. I was probably top 4 or 5 on speed, but never got in a good qualifier. Since my focus was on 1/8 scale I also did not try to improve the sedan. I let Michael work on the car and I just worked on my 1/8 scale.

For the 1/8 scale my car was pretty good, but I was having trouble getting the gearing and shift point just right. I was not used to having no traction and this track was very hard to drive fast. You had to be willing to drive full throttle all the time and I was driving it like a US track (point and shoot). Michael gave me some tips and with that I could try to change how I drive. Saturday was here and now it was time to qualify. The first round most of us did not complete the round for one reason or another. Serpent driver Sabrina was able to get it in and was TQ after the first round. I felt good with my speed and my driving was getting better. In the second round Robert and I were in the same heat and I was able to stay within 5 seconds for the entire 10 minute heat. This gave me a 33 lapper and up to this point we were the only 33 lap runs. I felt good after the race and was really starting to get used to the change of driving style. I made a couple of adjustments to my car for the next round and it made my car really good. The track was slower now, but I felt more able to drive at the high speeds. After all 4 rounds of qualifying I was able to maintain my 2nd position on the grid for a direct qualification into the final. At the end of the day I was vary happy with my day. My car, motor and entire package was great. For the final I was not going to change anything. I just went though the car and made sure it was ready for the main.

For the sedan semi-final I did not know what to expect. I started the race and pulled on the field very quick, but then it happened. I stripped gears not realizing that the motor was never secured properly. We forgot to tighten the motor mount and so the motor shifted. At this point I really did not want to spend more energy on trying to get the sedan going. We gave it one more attempt, but I got mixed up with another car and lost the side belt. I just decided to stop and get ready for the 1/8 final.

For the 1/8 practice for the 4 direct quals my mechanic and I decided to work on tire changes. We did this since we were going to have to change 2 times for the 1 hour final. My car felt good in the warm up and I was excited and had nerves by this point. My first big international race and I am racing with people like Michael Salven, Patrick Schaefer and Robert Pietsch. All I can hope in my mind is that the first turn is not a mess. The bell sounds and we are off. I get a good jump on Robert and try for the first turn. Robert gets sideways and I back off not to hurt anyone. We tangle and I get pushed to dead last, GREAT. I start pushing myself and get by most of the field pretty easy. In the corner of my eye and I can see I am catching the front pack, so I feel good about my pace and just keep going. After a few minutes and pit stops I am in second place, with Michael and Patrick both having problems. I come in for my first tire change at 20 minutes and go one lap down to the leader. Then he comes in for his at the 30 minute mark and we are back on the same lap. I was able to keep a good pace with the leader and stay on the same lap for most of the race till about the 40 minute mark. I still had another tire change and this was going to cost me. I came in for the last tire change and one more than Robert will make, so I went down again. This time about 1 ½ laps. I tried to push myself since I had fresh tire and was a little bit faster at this point in the race, but I made a driving error and was sitting in the grass for a few seconds. At the end of the race I was about 2 laps down and finished 2nd. I was very pleased with the race and felt I did my best. Happy with all that I learned and the great pit work Scott did the entire weekend. The only error in the final was mine at the end of the race.

I would like to thank the track owners and especially Ozan, the race director. He made sure all of us were having a good time and needed for nothing. The food was great and the racers were very nice. I loved meeting all the different people from around the worlds. I need to also give a big thanks to Scott Rister for the pit help all weekend and to Michael Salven for the driving and set-up tips, definitely different than the States.

Of course to my sponsors who make my racing possible. They provid me with the best racing equipment possible to race at the highest level. Serpent, Serpent America, Xceed, Maxy’s Fuel, ATS, Twister Tires USA, Novarossi World, Airtronics, Parma, Faskolor and Paintin Pete.

DJ Apolaro
Team Serpent America