While packing the race gear that I needed for the weekend, I did my usual last minute check of the weather to see if the forecasts had changed.
Nope. It still appeared to be a pretty nasty Fourth of July weekend… lots of rain everyday, even strong thunderstorms being predicted.
For most, that was the last piece of information they wanted, especially when heading to the racetrack for a weekend of competition. For me, however, it was exactly what I wanted to hear (aside from the prediction of thunderstorms, of course).
There are not many other things I enjoy more in this world than racing in the rain.
A situation that I used to loathe more than anything else, at some point in my karting career I found that if I ever wanted to become competitive and win races in adverse weather conditions, I must learn to love it, and I did.
So, what does any of that have to do with driving a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport GS in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, you may ask?
The possibility of a wet race gave me the utmost confidence that we had more than a solid shot at victory and a race where the Bodymotion Racing team, Cameron Cassels, and I could really do some damage in the GS championship and extend our points lead.
Unfortunately it didn’t all go down the way I had hoped, actually very much the opposite, but nonetheless it was still a positive event for us.
Working hard on our car all throughout practice and qualifying, I think it’s pretty fair to say that Cam and I were pleased with what we had underneath us.
Although we did not lead any practice session, we knew we were very strong in the areas that we could directly control, so you really cannot ask for much more than that.
Some minor set up changes had helped, but for the most part we rolled off the truck in fairly decent shape, which is always confidence inspiring, especially on these race weekends where you really do not have much time for tuning your equipment.
In one of the strangest qualifying sessions I’ve seen in quite some time with some ST cars that unfortunately found the infamous “blue bushes” on their in-laps along with a drying racetrack and a fundamental misunderstanding of the rule book by the GS field under red flag conditions, it had made the last ditch qualifying lap put in by Cameron just that much more important. We would roll off the grid in 10th for Saturday’s two hour race.
Seeing some of the intense rain storms just passing the Watkins Glen International circuit to the north and a steady line of dark clouds following, this is where I was really hoping that, for once, the Weather Channel was correct in their predictions for sustained rain.
Our race was off to a very clean start with Cam netting one or two extra positions at turn one and he was immediately taking off, trying to catch the next pack of cars ahead. Approaching the 45 minute mark, the rain started coming down. Hard.
I loved what I was seeing since I knew this was our legitimate shot at a victory. Unfortunately as soon as that storm had rolled in, it was right back out with only a stretch of cloudless blue sky following. Damn.
Whatever, I was still confident in the car that I had underneath me to be able to take advantage of the restart following a lengthy red flag for weather and push to the front, but that did not happen.
I found myself outgunned pretty quickly and all I could do was defend as hard as possible and minimize the loss of ground in the championship.
We finished P4; a gift if you ask me since our pace was not very close to that position. That one was hard fought to say the least, and with the efforts by Cam and the Bodymotion team, we head to CTMP with our GS championship lead in tact.
With some frustration following the CTSC race, I was forced to quickly let go of it and move on, as I had to be ready to fight for a victory in Lamborghini Super Trofeo race two with Riccardo Agostini and the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing team.
The pressure was on since Ricky put together one hell of a qualifying lap and put the No. 1 car on the pole! The guy went on to lead every single lap of his stint, without too much pressure from behind, and I was fortunate enough to hop in and do the very same.
For me, it came right down to the finish line but a win is a win and I sure was glad to be leaving my favorite track in the world on a high note.
Once again I thank the entire Bodymotion Racing team, Trim Tex, Prestige Performance, Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Squadra Corse, Cameron, and Ricky for making it possible for me to run, with success, in two very competitive championships.
I’m incredibly lucky to work with such phenomenal groups of people. CTMP is a little more relaxed in terms of scheduling but the intensity will very much be the same as Cam and I continue our fight for the GS championship.
FOR THE 2017 EDITION OF THE YOUNG DRIVERS PROGRAM
The Young Drivers Program, established in 2014, was the first of the four talent programs created by Lamborghini Squadra Corse to give young drivers the opportunity to build a career in Motorsport. Now in its fourth edition, the Young Drivers Program is the “scholarship” for drivers (aged 17-26) already racing in the Super Trofeo one-make series in Europe, Asia and North America.
After examining the potential members to be included in the 2017 program during winter tests and the first races of the three continental series of the Super Trofeo, Lamborghini Squadra Corse has selected the 23 participants who will take part in the 2017 edition. Some drivers of the past edition have been reconfirmed, such as Ben Gersekowski, Loris Spinelli, Nicolas Costa, Bar Baruch and Rik Breukers.
Some others have been promoted and have gained access to the upper level, the GT3 Junior Program, starting from the 2016 Super Trofeo world champion, Dennis Lind.
Many, instead, are the new entries who are going to become part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse family: for example the young drivers who emerged during the winter in the new Super Trofeo Middle East series, such as the champion of the series Axcil Jefferies, the German Carrie Schreiner and her teammates Jack Bartholomew and Richard Goddard, to continue with the promising Jonathan Cecotto, Kikko Galbiati, Mikael Grenier, Jan Kisiel, Christopher Dreyspring and Yuki Nemoto, who are demonstrating their potential in the Super Trofeo Europe. Brandon Gdovic and Trent Hindman are instead standing out in the North American series.
Here is the complete member list of the 2017 Young Drivers Program of Lamborghini Squadra Corse.
Alex Jia Tong Liang
Young Drivers’ activities during the Super Trofeo weekends
Being a member of the Young Drivers Program of Lamborghini Squadra Corse means having access to a wide range of professional growth opportunities. During every round of the Super Trofeo, for example, the young drivers are assisted on track by a new staff specifically set up by Lamborghini Squadra Corse for this season: Raffaele Giammaria, director of the Federal School ACI Sport, is the new supervisor of the youth programs of the Motorsport department. The experienced Italian driver, together with the Federal School instructors, has the task of teaching all the necessary know-how to young drivers. Before each race, drivers receive a dossier specifically prepared to inform them about the sporting regulations and race track. Over the weekend, they attend meetings to discuss the course of free practice and qualifying sessions and another fixture is the track walk, i.e. a walk on track to discover, centimeter by centimeter, all the secrets of the circuit where they are going to race.
After each round, drivers are required to compile a report, identical to that written by the Lamborghini Factory Drivers, in which everyone makes a technical and personal account of the race weekend, to look for any minimum improvement margin for the following races.
Training camp in Imola and Sant’Agata Bolognese
But the most important events are the training camps organized by Lamborghini Squadra Corse throughout the year, namely specific sessions involving both the drivers of the Young Drivers Program and those of the GT3 Junior Program. The sessions take place in Imola and Sant’Agata Bolognese in June and September, with three days of full immersion in the Lamborghini world. In the factory, the drivers have the opportunity to get to know the brand, by visiting the production lines, the museum and the various departments. The Imola circuit is where training takes place: the young drivers have the opportunity to participate in test sessions and in the development of Huracán Super Trofeos and GT3s, together with the engineers of Lamborghini Squadra Corse and Pirelli. By driving cars on track for development purposes and not for competing, drivers can sharpen their sensitivity and learn how to best communicate their sensations to race engineers, which is a crucial aspect in the training of drivers.
Then there is athletic preparation, under the supervision of performance coaches specialized in Motorsport, who have the task of monitoring and improving the drivers’ physical preparation through targeted training sessions. Lastly, there is also theory, with classroom sessions about communication, behavioral notions, racecar engineering and Lamborghini road cars. In this way, drivers can become complete professionals.
Certified Lamborghini Accademia instructors
One of the opportunities offered to youth program drivers is to become instructor drivers of the Lamborghini Accademia, the official driving school open not only to Lamborghini customers but also to all enthusiasts. Those who prove to have the right attitude to carry out this parallel activity are further trained to practice this profession, which is different from being a professional driver. To increase the quality of its services, Lamborghini Squadra Corse obtained the certification of all its Accademia drivers/instructors through a practical and theoretical training course held in Vallelunga at the Federal School ACI Sport last January.
Lamborghini Squadra Corse certified Tüv ISO 9001
Since the beginning of 2017, Lamborghini Squadra Corse, the Motorsport department of Automobili Lamborghini, has been certified ISO 9001. To award this certification, the TÜV Italia team verified the certification, development, manufacturing and assistance processes of race cars as well as the organizational and management aspects of competitions during sporting events on European tracks.
By handing in the certification to Stefano Domenicali, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini, the Managing Director of TÜV Italia, Oliver Jacob, wanted to emphasize how Lamborghini Squadra Corse dealt with the complexity of this certification with a high level of commitment, a characteristic of the sporting tradition of Automobili Lamborghini.
For the last three years that IMSA has made the trip to Circuit of The Americas, it’s conveniently been right at the end of summer and the term “Texas hot” could not become any more applicable.
In 2015, for example, while driving the Fall-Line Motorsports BMW E92 M3 GS car, we experienced a race day which saw a high of 105 degrees ambient temperature.
Since that lovely, high revving, S65 V8 sits so low and so far back, with headers that run almost right underneath your feet, it did get quite warm in the cockpit. So hot, in fact, that the bottom of my left shoe heel was no longer attached to my shoe but instead to the floorboard on which it was resting.
I have photos to prove it! Luckily during this trip to COTA, we in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge had really beautiful weather to go racing, with no melting shoes…
With over a month since our last, character-building race at Sebring, Cameron Cassels, the Bodymotion Racing crew, and I needed to have a solid weekend in order to stay in the GS championship hunt. Fortunately for us, we did just that.
COTA has historically been good to me, finishing second in last year’s GS race with Cameron and even winning a crucial nail biter in 2014 with John Edwards.
I have to admit that I was feeling relatively confident, despite being advised that the Porsche may not be competitive at the super technical, 3.427-mile track.
Watching the MotoGP race from a few weeks prior, it appeared that track conditions had seemed to have deteriorated quite drastically compared to the years prior.
As we witnessed the changes first hand during Wednesday afternoon’s track walk, the asphalt itself seemed a lot more weathered compared to September 2016, but more importantly, feeling where significant bumps have developed in key areas of the track made setting up our car a little bit more challenging than normal.
Since our race “weekend” is only two days, it goes by blindingly fast, so during Thursday practice it is just that much more important to make the most of every single lap you are given.
For me, it’s all about getting our car dialed in for the long run as well as making sure Cameron gets enough time to re-acclimate himself to the track.
Small changes between practice one and two on Thursday lead to big gains in lap time heading into Friday’s race, so we were quite happy with the weapon we had brought to play with.
Cameron did his normal rock solid job in qualifying and the opening stint of the race, setting personal best laps along the way, which in turn is always confidence inspiring for me and the Bodymotion crew.
Again, knowing that our Cayman GT4 was not supposed to be the best car at this track, we knew that great pit stops and a modified strategy would be necessary in order to have a shot at victory.
A full course yellow right around the 45 minute mark was exactly what we needed, but now this turned into a fuel mileage race… which is always how it seems to go around COTA.
A fantastic stop by the Bodymotion crew and a great strategic call by engineer extraordinaire Marc Manning moved us up to P5 for the restart, although now it was a test of who could make it to the end of this two hour event with only one stop.
I was most definitely sweating this one out, because not only was it my job to push forward and try to make up positions, but now I also had to try and pass a handful of phenomenal drivers all while saving fuel. Sweet.
Fortunately some patience and a lot of luck put us in the lead… for roughly two corners, and the momentum lost by battling hard with Robin allowed both McLarens to scream on by.
We had great pace though the first half of the racetrack but once we got to the tight, point and shoot sort of corners that we find in sectors two and three around COTA, I just couldn’t get close enough to properly attack.
With about ten minutes to go in the race, our focus shifted back to simply making it to the finish without running out of fuel! Hectic fuel saving and quite the nerve-wracking last lap that felt like it would never end gave us a solid P3 finish.
Of course we are always thinking about how we could have gotten those final two positions for victory, but for now, we were pleased that we had simply survived with a better than expected result.
It was also very encouraging to hear that we would head to Watkins Glen as the GS championship leaders.
Immediately after finishing the GS race, it was a full on sprint back to the support paddock to change driving suits and get ready for Lamborghini Super Trofeo race one.
I know… I have zero right whatsoever to say anything negative about hopping out of one car and getting directly into another, especially when its a Porsche to a Lamborghini!
I would just briefly like to mention that I am very thankful to be back in Super Trofeo this season with the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing team that I had been so fortunate to have success with last year.
Our weekend went quite well over there, as my new co-driver Riccardo Agostini and I brought home a pair of second place finishes in the Pro category.
After almost three straight weeks on the road concluding with an incredibly busy yet successful three days in Austin, it’s nice to be home for a few days.
As always, a big thank you to Cameron and the Bodymotion Racing team, along with the Prestige Performance crew for their efforts towards some solid results this past weekend.
The Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 had a new look this weekend thanks to Joe Koenig and all of my friends at Trim-Tex! Looking forward to sharing much success together with them as we did just a few years ago.
Hopefully Cam and I will do as John and I did in 2014, grab hold of this GS championship lead and never look back! On to Watkins Glen..
IMSA Spotlight: Trent Hindman
Driver: No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
How anxious to get back in the car are you after the long layoff after Sebring?
“Very. Not sure if anxious is necessarily the word though, I think in this scenario it’s more of a motivation to go racing again following a difficult race weekend such as Sebring. Looking for redemption possibly?
“The time certainly passes quickly though, especially because we have been very busy at Bodymotion Racing preparing for next week’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Circuit of The Americas.
“For us it is really just a matter of going out and proving to ourselves that no matter what adversity comes our way, we will still find a way to win.”
How much do you and your co-driver Cameron Cassels stay in contact during the time between races?
“It’s constant communication. Cam is a guy who is incredibly motivated to improve his craft behind the wheel of our Cayman GT4, or of course any car he drives for that matter, so we will always be comparing notes prior to arriving to the track.
“It’s definitely a very eye opening experience for me to be a part of his development as a driver because I too learn a lot about myself in the process. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
In your recent column for Sportscar365, you mentioned that you and Cameron were still new to the team at this time last year. How much has the year of chemistry that you have developed helped this year?
“Although at this point last year Cameron and I were new to working together alongside Bodymotion Racing, it’s pretty safe to say that we were all on the same page right away despite the inexperience.
“Chemistry when working with a group of people is not something that can be created artificially. Funny enough, I was already very close to everybody over at Bodymotion since the shop is roughly five minutes away from where I’ve lived all my life.
“For a while at the end of 2013 and all throughout 2014 while I was driving with Fall-Line in GS, I was the guy sweeping floors, mounting and dismounting tires, loading and unloading trailers, etc.
“Those experiences alone made this whole process of learning how to work together specifically with this team in a highly competitive environment much, much more straightforward and Cam really fit in well to that dynamic.”
You finished second at COTA last year. Does that set the bar for this year’s race?
“It does, but that is something we cannot focus on alone once we get on track next week.
“It’s great going into a race weekend knowing that you had success at that particular circuit in the past but for the most part it does not mean that the return will go as well as you expect sometimes; just look at Sebring for us between 2016 and 2017.
“Taking what we learned from last year and applying it once we get on track next week will prove to be advantageous, but we still have much to learn in order to stay ahead of both new and existing teams in the Continental Tire Challenge.”
What track that you haven’t driven before would you most like to get the chance to drive?
“Ah, tough question! I’ve been very fortunate to drive a lot of very, very special circuits over the last 3-4 years but I’ll still maintain that Watkins Glen is the greatest place ever. Period.
“There are certainly some tracks that are better than others, but I don’t think I have ever climbed out of the car and said to myself, ‘Wow this track is just terrible.’
“When it comes to a track that I would like to drive at some point, Nurburgring is at the top of the list for me since, well, it’s the Nurburgring. Came really close to running a few VLN races in 2015 but unfortunately that didn’t work out.
“Imola is another track that I hear is absolutely phenomenal and it definitely seems like it. Hoping to get there by the end of this year if all goes to plan!”
BROWNSBURG, Indiana (April 25, 2017) – Coming off a series-high four championships last season, Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing announced today their plans to run a four-car program in the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American Series. In 2016, the two-car Prestige Performance racing effort saw incredible success as it took home the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American PRO Driver, PRO AM Driver, Team Champion and Dealer Champion titles. Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing have organized an impressive complement of talented and competitive drivers to debut their stable of Lamborghinis on the challenging 3.4-mile, 20-turn Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, Texas at the Super Trofeo season opener, May 4 to 6.
“Wayne Taylor Racing is excited to step into the 2017 season with such a great list of drivers and to have David Wagener returning on our engineering side,” said Travis Houge, Team Manager, Wayne Taylor Racing. “We are looking forward to continuing the success of last season. Similar to our other racing endeavors, we have worked hard to build a program that not only wins races but also builds lasting and successful partnerships. We feel we have found that with the Lamborghini Group.”
In the PRO Category, the team will run its highly identifiable Nos. 1 and 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeos. The No. 1 racecar will again be piloted by series veteran and 2016 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American PRO AM driver champion Trent Hindman and his new teammate Riccardo Agostini. Agostini, in addition to his responsibilities to the Prestige Performance team, will also focus on bringing home the 2017 Super GT3 Pro Crown in the Italian GT Championship, where he drives for Antonelli Motorsport with teammate Daniel Zampieri. Veteran Hindman arrives at the Austin season opener having already started the year off with a podium finish, as he and the No. 26 BARI Motorsports Oreca FLM09 PC team came in second in class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Alex Popow and Michele Beretta will drive the No 10 Prestige Performance Super Trofeo. Beretta, having most recently competed at Daytona in the #61 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, will also be juggling his time between the North American Super Trofeo series and the Italian GT Series with Ombra Racing. Popow, a veteran sportscar driver, saw success in January at the Rolex 24, where he helped pilot the No. 88 Starworks Motorsports Oreca FLM09 PC to a solid fourth-place finish.
In the PRO AM Category, it was proudly announced the No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo will be driven by the organization’s first all-female driver pairing: Pippa Mann and Jackie Heinricher. Mann, who holds the record of the second fastest female qualifier of all time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a four-lap average at just under 230 mph, is also currently focused on qualifying for her sixth Indianapolis 500. Heinricher, as the only woman who competed at the Lamborghini World Finals in Valencia, Spain, took home two third-place finishes that weekend to add to her already solid podium record in the 2016 North American Super Trofeo series.
The fourth Prestige Performance entry and list of drivers will be named in the near future.
“We are so proud to be a part of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series and to continue to support its vision for motorsports,” said Mark Laino, Race Program Manager, Prestige Performance. “Our partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing has truly allowed us to build a winning platform for drivers, both professional and amateur. We are committed to this program, its growth and are looking forward to a successful 2017, both on and off the track, for our customers and our organizations.”
The 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series will hold five events during IMSA WeatherTech Championship weekends: May 4 to 6 Circuit of the Americas, June 29 to July 1 at Watkins Glen International, Aug. 4 to 6 at Road America, Aug. 25 to 27 at Virginia International Raceway, and Sept. 22 to 24 at Laguna Seca. The World Finals will be held Nov. 16 and 17 in Imola, Italy.
TRENT HINDMAN, No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO): “As soon as we got off track in Valencia following the 2016 Super Trofeo World Final, I knew that I wanted to come back and have another opportunity to compete in Lamborghini Super Trofeo with the Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing team for 2017. Fortunately, through lots of extreme preparation and hard work, we were able to make that happen. I’m excited to make the step up to the full Pro category with Riccardo, whose resume speaks for itself, and to build upon the successes that the Prestige Performance team was able to achieve last year. Very happy to have my great friends at Trim-Tex riding along with us, once again, and I absolutely cannot wait to get to work at COTA with Riccardo and the Prestige Performance crew.” For additional driver information, visit www.trenthindman.com
RICCARDO AGOSTINI, No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“Racing with Wayne Taylor Racing is an opportunity to show my skills in America. Hopefully, the knowledge I’ve gained will help win another championship. I’m very happy to be paired with Trent Hindman in the Pro Class as he won the Pro Am championship last year – great opportunity for me.” For additional driver information, visit www.riccardoagostini.eu/en/
ALEX POPOW, No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO): “I’m very excited about this upcoming season and being with the Lamborghini Super Trofeos as I’m coming back to GT cars after some years of just driving the Prototypes. I am also looking forward to working with Wayne Taylor Racing and Prestige Performance. I think our team should be very strong from the beginning. We will fight hard to win races and the championship!” For additional driver information, visit www.alexpopow.com
MICHELE BERETTA, No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“I’m really thankful to all the people who made this possible, from Lamborghini to Prestige Performance. I’m really excited to start this new adventure. It is going to be the first year competing in the U.S. and this mean a new world for me to discover. I am looking forward to being on track and to getting the season started.” For additional driver information, visit www.micheleberetta.com/en/
PIPPA MANN, No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“I am thrilled to be joining Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2017 Super Trofeo season. Learning a new car, a new team, a new series, and new tracks will be a big learning experience for me, and I’m extremely excited not only to have this opportunity, but to have this opportunity with such a great team.” For additional driver information, visit www.pippamann.com
JACKIE HEINRICHER, No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (AM): “I am excited to be involved with Prestige and Wayne Taylor Racing in the season effort and for the incredible opportunity in joining a professional team for long-term growth in sportscar racing.” For additional driver information, visit www.jackieheinricher.com
PRESTIGE PERFORMANCE | WAYNE TAYLOR RACING – 2017 ENTRY INFORMATION
- CAR: No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Trent Hindman (PRO) | Riccardo Agostini (PRO)
- CAR: No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Alex Popow (PRO) | Michele Beretta (PRO)
PRO AM CATEGORY
- CAR: No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Pippa Mann (PRO) | Jackie Heinricher (AM)
TO BE NAMED
- CAR: No. 11 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán LP Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: to be named
The last few times I have reported to you all, the results have been good, with maybe a few hiccups along the way.
I know that I included the rollercoaster that is the Rolex 24 in my last blog, but luckily Cameron Cassels and I were at least able to walk away from Daytona with a win in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge four hour enduro.
This time we we were not so lucky.
Getting down to Sebring a day earlier than expected due to some impending bad weather in the northeast turned out to be pretty beneficial, as our engineer Marc Manning, Cameron, and I were able to take advantage of the down time to walk the track and finalize strategies for the upcoming weekend.
All of the Porsche Cayman GT4s received a few Balance of Performance penalties post-Daytona, so that was certainly a major concern of ours coming into the weekend.
Argue as much as you want, but at the end of the day the only thing we can do is try our best to work around some of these penalties and continue moving forward as we knew we could. Complaining about it will never make your car magically go faster.
Throughout our test day on Wednesday and official practice on Thursday, it was clear that we had some work to do.
We were strong when compared to the other Porsches, but at the end of the day on Thursday we knew we still had to find more time, consistently, to be able to challenge for victory number two at Sebring.
There was very little doubt in my mind that we could get a little bit closer to the quickest GS cars, but it was going to take more effort and more time. Unfortunately more time was something we did not have.
This time last year, Cameron Cassels and I barely even knew each other or the crew that we were working with, so to walk away with a win at Sebring in our very first attempt was something that certainly caught us by surprise.
Along with that we were able to bring home the first win for the Porsche Cayman GT4 platform in global competition – a huge honor for such a new program at that point in time.
Knowing all of this, I certainly felt some additional pressure on my shoulders to go out and make it two in a row at Sebring for Bodymotion Racing.
Come race day, the new-for-2017 two-hour race format was a scenario we had prepared for quite well, so overall race time and strategy were the least of my concerns.
We were still down on pace but close enough to where I could mount an attack at the end of the race as long as we were in position to do so.
Unfortunately, about 30 minutes in, Cameron reported a vibration in the front end of the car that was consistently getting worse – not a good sign around Sebring.
We wanted him to stay out for as long as possible to reach minimum drive time, which he did, right as a full course yellow came out and three of our wheel studs were completely sheered off due to a badly damaged wheel. Not good!
Cam limped the car back to pit lane, we completed our stop, and I hopped behind the wheel. My heart sank as soon as I got the call over the radio to take the car behind the wall for repairs.
At that point I knew we were out of contention for the win, which was far from ideal, but at least there was some hope that we could make our repairs as quickly as possible and get the car back out on track.
In the end, we finished 10th in class, 4 laps down. Disappointing, but thinking about the grand scheme of things, we still kept ourselves in the race to earn points despite our problems – that’s how a team wins championships.
As always, a big thank you to Cameron Cassels, Trim-Tex Drywall Products, and the Bodymotion Racing team for the phenomenal effort all weekend even though the result was not what we were hoping for.
Next up is Circuit of the Americas at the beginning of May and that cannot come soon enough. We will take this time off to correct our mistakes and find our way back to the top step of the podium in Texas.
SEBRING, Fla., March 17 — After qualifying third in the Street Tuner (ST) class and running in that position for more than half of Friday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway, Devin Jones and Drake Kemper were relegated to a tenth-place finish after the track’s bumpy surface took a toll on their No. 31 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman.
Bodymotion Racing came into the event as the defending race winners and the winners of the season opener with its Grand Sport entry, the No. 12 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport driven by Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman. Unfortunately, that car suffered a problem with one of its wheels that caused it to lose several laps, and it ended up tenth in the Grand Sport class at the conclusion of the two-hour race.
Jones, of Mooresville, N.C., started third after qualifying just 0.250 off the ST pole early Friday morning. He ran in third place throughout his stint, which included a fierce battle with Jeff Mosing for second place just after the first half-hour of the race. He pitted under yellow with about 70 minutes to go, turning the car over to Kemper, a rookie from Thermal, Calif.
The pit stop went perfectly, and Kemper was able to start his stint in third also. He remained in that podium position for about 20 minutes until the eventual class winner passed him. What the fans didn’t know was that Kemper was dealing with a suspension problem, but he was able to bring the entry home in one piece.
Things started off well for Cassels, of Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada, until his car developed a vibration that continually got worse. Team owner Mike Bavaro brought that car in for fuel under green just 20 minutes into the race as a strategy move, but it never came into play due to problems with the right- front wheel that forced Cassels to pit with about 52 minutes gone. The team went behind the wall to make repairs and Hindman replaced Cassels in the cockpit and finished the race, but the time lost was far too much for the star from Wayside, N.J. to make up.
Bodymotion’s sponsors — Veristor, Delaware Investments, TrimTex and the Apex Sports Car Academy — are sure to get their share of airtime when the race is shown on Fox Sports 1 at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 26. The team will regroup at its headquarters in Ocean Township, N.J., which was recently named an Approved Porsche Collision Center, and hope for better results at the next event May 4-6 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
Post-race quotes follow:
Cameron Cassels, co-driver, No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4:
“I just noticed as the laps wore on, there was more and more vibration in the car, particularly in the right front. I don’t know what happened yet; we might have sheared off some wheel stubs. Finally at the end, at that last caution lap, coming into Turn 5, I tried to turn hard left and the car just went straight. So I knew there was something really wrong. You could certainly feel it as the laps went on, especially after the stop for a splash of fuel. It was a shame; I think our pit stop strategy could have won the race for us. It’s really, really disappointing because we had a great car and a great strategy.”
Trent Hindman, co-driver, No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4:
“When you’re leading a championship you’ve obviously got a big target on your back, not just with your other competitors but with the technical gremlins that can sometimes get to you. Unfortunately, they got to us today.
“Ultimately the only thing you can do on days like today is maximize everything you’ve got and, to be honest with you, I’m shocked we’re walking away with 11th-place points. It could have been much worse than that. It’s the result of all the guys coming together, getting the repairs, getting the car back out on track and crossing the line and finishing the two-hour race in one piece, or mostly in one piece. Days like today are what win championships; maximizing the bad days, this is what’s going to pay off at the end of the year. It takes every last little point we can get to count, and you’ve got to think big picture. This is just extra motivation we’re going to use going forward into COTA.”
Michael Bavaro, team owner:
“It’s a disappointing day because the ST car qualified so well and we had a suspension failure on that car, but we soldiered home. I think they did a great job, considering what broke, that they were even able to finish.
“The No. 12 car had broken lug nuts and a broken wheel and we were able to change it pretty quick, but we had to go behind the wall so we lost a few laps there. We finished the race running and we need the points.
“It’s a season-long commitment so we have to take the points and move on to COTA for our next round and keep our chin up. We’ll go back [to the shop] and fix the cars.
“I think everybody showed real good form today. For the season to come I think we’re going to have something for these McLarens and these Mustangs. In both classes [GS and ST], we belong in that lead battle. I can imagine our cars would have been right up in there had we not had problems. We’ll look forward to COTA.”
Devin Jones, co-driver, No. 31 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman:
“We had pretty high expectations coming into this race. We were really solid in qualifying, and came close to the pole there. But we had some issues with the frame of the car that we found last night after the second practice. We couldn’t do a permanent fix, but the guys did a good job bolting something up and getting it so hopefully we could make it through the race. I think during my stint the car held together pretty good and we were able to maintain third, but later in the run when Drake got in, that problem came up again.
“The guys did a good job welding it together though. We weren’t sure we would even get on track yesterday. They did a good job getting it back together. We’re disappointed that we couldn’t get a better finish, but I think everybody rallied pretty well. Once we get some of these issues worked out, I think we’ll be tough to beat.”
Drake Kemper, co-driver, No. 31 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman:
“I’m a tad disappointed for the Bodymotion crew. These guys worked tirelessly last night to get the car back up and running. Devin Jones put in a phenomenal first stint, and really it was my race to lose at that point, which definitely happened. We battled up front for a little while, and then an inherent problem from last night, the one we were fixing, became unstuck again. It got worse and worse, and I just did everything I could to hang onto the thing. At least I’m proud that the car is in one piece, and we’ll go to COTA and try again, once we get that problem fixed.”
For more information, go to Bodymotion.com.
To me, every win, podium, or even race finish will be hard fought no matter what because we will always be going for the win.
This-four hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Daytona was amongst the hardest fought races that I have ever competed in. If it was one thing above all else though, it was simply a hell of a lot of fun!
After the Roar Before the 24, Cameron Cassels, Bodymotion Racing, and I all knew we had quite a lot of work that needed to be done in order to be competitive once we returned to Daytona for our first race of 2017.
Although we were very confident in our Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport that we had already raced for a year, there were still some questions about how we would perform against some of the beautiful, brand new SRO GT4 machinery that were making their debut in GS competition.
When it finally came time to practice on Thursday morning, we were quite surprised to find ourselves at the top of the time sheets in our morning session.
All of us at Bodymotion Racing knew that now more than ever it was not about setting that one quick lap; rather, the name of the game here was to have a strong car at the end of a proper four hour endurance event.
Throughout the rest of the day we shifted our focus to A) getting Cameron more comfortable in a car that was going to lose its rear tire at the end of a stint, and B) figuring out how we were not going to lose our rear tire at the end of a stint! We were also dealing with a pretty big unknown considering all GS teams were using a brand new spec Continental tire.
You know, unfortunately you hear a fair amount of folks around the paddock, some that are not even drivers, mentioning some negative comments about the tire that Continental puts out on the racetrack.
In my experience in the series, they have been nothing but consistent and reliable. Think of it this way – Continental is tasked with an extremely unique challenge in the sense that they have to create a tire that works on a multitude of different cars and racetracks.
How the hell they can engineer a tire that is reliable, gives good feel and feedback to the driver, yet can be fitted on a little Porsche Cayman GT4 or a car as brutal as a Ford Mustang GT4 is really very impressive.
Hats off to the guys and gals at Continental who make it happen.
Improvements made pre-qualifying were still not quite what we needed to win Friday’s four-hour enduro and the decision was made to run the pre-race warm-up early Friday morning.
Honestly, I felt more weight on my shoulders going into that warmup than I did going into the race! So many times have we seen cars get torn up to the point where they are forced to withdraw from the race by really pointless incidents in the Daytona morning warm-up.
I was concerned, but luckily made it through… Then came the next challenge as we made a swap last minute as to who would be starting the car, forcing us to the very back of the GS grid.
Again, nerves were quite high as we were surrounded by drivers with whom I have never shared a racetrack with, so there were simply a lot of unknowns.
Fortunately we made a great start and opening stint, and I was able to hand the car off to Cameron from P2. From then on, the man himself drove out of his damn mind!
I am very proud to see the progress Cam has made in less than 12 months, as he never fell outside of the top-ten and even lead the field on a restart. Lots of pressure on a guy who has not been road racing for very long.
With roughly two hours remaining, it was my turn to hop back in the car and finish off the race. I knew it was going to be a fight as many teams were on similar strategies and we had some really, really fast cars to work through.
Over the next two stints in the car and the final two pitstops, we had battled our way back to the lead… then the fun began. A short full course caution with less than ten minutes to go in the race meant a sprint to the finish with a tired car and a winner-take-all scenario.
I was confident in what we had underneath me, as this is the exact scenario we had worked on in practice.
Patience on the restart, and two clean, mistake free laps and we were fortunate to find ourselves in victory lane at Daytona!
A first for me personally on three attempts and coming close twice, which made this very special and a hell of a way to start Bodymotion’s 2017 campaign.
In between all of the excitement with our GS program, I was also very fortunate to be teamed up with Johnny Mowlem, Adam Merzon, David Cheng, and Tom Papadopolous in the BAR1 Motorsports Prototype Challenge car.
These are guys who all have some experience in prototypes, so there was certainly a lot for me to learn coming from the GT side of things. Luckily, past open wheel experience played a huge roll in getting acclimated to this style of car as there was very little time to do so on the racetrack.
My first ever stint in a Rolex 24 came just before the skies opened up, from about 7-9pm Saturday night. I thought that was a fun one but I got back in the car about 1 a.m. when the rain was really starting to pick up and I did not get out until about 3:30 a.m… Yes it was cold, very cold, but probably about the most fun I have ever had in a racecar.
Seriously, between all of the spray, traffic, the horrible need to use the bathroom, no feeling in my hands or feet, and the constant thought that you were going to end up in the fence at any moment, it was a great stint since the No. 26 Case-It, BAR1 PC was making up quite some time to the leaders!
Unfortunately all of that fun quickly came to an end when we had an ECU that shorted due to the amount of water, and that, for the most part decided our race. That issue, coupled with a pesky fuel pick up problem, haunted us since the very start of the race.
It was disappointing because we thought that as long as we kept the car on the “island”, pointed straight, that we would have a shot at getting one of those beautiful Rolex Daytona watches, all while giving Johnny Mowlem a proper send off in his final professional race.
That Cinderella ending never came but the experience was still surreal as I believe most drivers’ first Rolex 24 would be. Nonetheless, capping the weekend off with a second place finish in LMPC certainly is not a bad thing!
All of that cold rain has now finally caught up to me as I sit home, typing this with a pretty gnarly flu.
It’s amazing how long adrenaline can keep you going but it all comes crashing down at some point or another. Either way, if a flu is the worst thing I walk away from the Rolex 24 with, I will take it every time!
A huge thank you to all who made such a fantastic weekend possible; Bodymotion Racing, Cameron Cassels, Brian Alder and his entire BAR1 Motorsports team, Adam Merzon and Case-It, and Trim-Tex Drywall Products. See you all in Sebring.