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COSMO: Road Atlanta Debrief

Guy Cosmo files his final Continental Tire Challenge debrief of 2016…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Going into Road Atlanta we had high hopes. Since my start with Team TGM at Road America and a podium finish in that race to kick things off, we felt we were really close to putting together TGM’s first winning performance in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

We’ve experimented with car setups, streamlined pitstop procedures, refined processes and really felt confident for our final race of the season.

Even more so, Road Atlanta serves as TGM’s ‘home race’ as their beautiful race shop is located in the business park just next door to the facility, so a great result here would be extra special for the crew.

However, luck would not have it for this one. Despite posting lap times that put us P2 and P3 in each of the practice sessions all week we still struggled to find a setup on the car that was comfortable enough to hang on to for the duration of a long stint and preserved the tires.

Our car was very unstable under braking, with the rear loose at the entry of the corners and a bit of understeer mid-corner mixed in as well.

Watching other cars on track it seemed everyone was struggling to find a happy balance so we weren’t too worried, especially since we were still one of the fastest cars on track.

As always we queued Ted up for qualifying and he continued to improve his lap times against the likes of the series championship leaders and the other gentlemen drivers, putting us 7th on the grid.

Race day was just beautiful with clear skies and cool temperatures that made you want to jump for joy.

The fan walk prior to race start was a lot of fun with a lot of familiar faces stopping by taking photos and sending well wishes. There was a great turnout, and this was just Friday of the Petit Le Mans weekend. As always it proved to be why it’s one of the best sportscar events in North America.

As the race kicked off Ted got a great start picking up a position and getting right up to pace. He put in a great string of lap times but then the tires started to degrade and the quirky characteristics of our unhappy setup started to show.

Ted still ran strong and managed the car as best he could despite dropping in order, but we were still in the hunt. Proving the task it was to keep it straight Ted had a quick spin in Turn 7 but got going right away.

Soon after a full-course caution came out and grouped him right back up with the leaders. Altering our pit strategy with the field we stayed out and Ted rolled up to 3rd place. Now we were looking good and in position to hand off to me so I could get to work.

On the restart I noticed how close the 4th place car was to Ted heading down into Turn 12 and as they exited onto the front straight everyone came by into Turn 1 except for Ted!

Spinning in the grass, sliding across the track and miraculously not hitting anything or anyone, Ted got back on track and continued his stint – minus the front splitter! We’re not quite sure if there was any foul play there but that definitely took some skill to keep the car off the wall. Good job Ted!

Shortly thereafter we pitted for four tires, fuel and a driver change. Our stop went very smoothly and I was off to the races.

Right off the bat the car didn’t feel quite so great but I reeled off the 2nd fastest lap of the race. As it proved earlier it only took a few laps before the handling deteriorated a bit more but we were still on pace with the field – in fact running faster than the leaders. Problem was, we were down 1.5 laps.

Whittling my way through the ST field and with the help of a yellow and the pass-around procedure we got our lap back but we just didn’t have enough pace to close down on the lead group.

We chugged along and brought home a less-than-exciting 6th place finish, but there wasn’t a scratch on the car! It’s always a good day when that’s the case!

So, not the first win we were hoping for but again such an enjoyable weekend with everyone at Team TGM and a privilege to drive and work with such a great team – with great cars!

The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports are fantastic and despite missing the mark this weekend, they have huge potential and I know we will find and extract it in the off-season.

Thank you for the opportunity to do what I love, Ted Giovanis and everyone at Team TGM. And thank you to Sportscar365 for allowing me to share my stories with all of you – the fans.

Enjoy the offseason!

Guy Cosmo (@GuyCosmo) is a sports car racing ace, driving for Team TGM in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

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