IMSA Spotlight: Mike Johnson
Team Manager, Stevenson Motorsports
What is the status of your Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge program going with the new Camaro GT4.R?
“We picked our cars up on the Tuesday after Sebring from Pratt & Miller. We did purchase two of them, but our plan is to only run one at this time.
“We’re very excited. Testing has gone very well all throughout the winter. Robin Liddell and Matt Bell will be driving the car for the season, and Robin has been involved with some of the initial testing for the car. We’re really looking forward to it.
“We really initially anticipated running it at Sebring, but we had such a great start to the year [in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship] at Daytona, we had some momentum, and we just felt that we should concentrate on Sebring with the GT Daytona car.”
The decision to wait to debut the car at COTA came down to not wanting to take the focus away from the GT Daytona effort?
“We could have gotten the car. We could have run at Sebring. We could have made it work. But, when you miss one race, missing two isn’t that much worse of a deal. We really wanted to put a focus on the Audi at Sebring and not have that distraction.”
How did the Camaro program come together in the first place?
“Literally I flew down to Jacksonville in November or December, whenever we were making this decision, and we were working on all the things we needed to do to get two Audis ready to go.
“[Crew chief] Michael Hoffman and I said, here’s our plusses and our minuses of doing [a two-car GTD program], and here’s another option [the Camaro]. And [team owner John Stevenson] went to lunch, came back and said: order some Camaros. It was literally that quick.”
How do you feel about your chances to compete for wins right away in Continental Tire Challenge?
“Great. We’re really excited to have Robin in that car because he was so fast when we had the Z28’s and he just comes to life in those soft-handling cars. From a driver lineup standpoint, we have a really stacked deck once we get going.”
What would it take for your second Camaro to see the track?
“When you buy these cars, they’re so much cheaper as one piece than when you buy them in 1000 pieces. From an ideal world, you can buy one car, and then you have a full, complete, 100% ready-to-go set of spares than if you bought them individually.
“So that car will be stripped, we’ll run it as spares, and then, if we decide to run two cars, then we’ll tool up. But this way we don’t have to spend all that money in the first year. That’s kind of the determining factor.”