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NEGRI: Monterey Debrief

Ozz Negri files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

We started out the weekend very well at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at one of my favorite tracks: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Right from the get go we were at the top end of the timing charts.

After completing FP1 in P4 we made some good setup changes and I ended up with the quickest lap of the day when we went back out for our second practice session.

There was still work to be done since we knew the track conditions were going to change so we kept tuning our Acura NSX GT3 and I felt confident going into qualifying on Saturday.

In qualifying, I thought I had enough gap to the Lexus in front of me but I ended up catching it sooner and had to back off on the lap that my Continental tires had ideal temperature and pressure so we ended up P7 for the start of the race.

It was disappointing for sure, but we felt good about the race and planned on moving forward.

During the morning warm up on Sunday, we went back on some of the changes we had done for qualifying, and the car felt really good so I knew I had to be pretty aggressive at the start of the race and try to get as many positions as possible since the cars are so close in pace and Laguna isn’t an easy place to pass.

It worked perfectly, and went exactly how I planned and discussed with my teammate Jeff. I got by two of our competitors on the first lap and from then on I put my head down and pushed hard to keep up front.

I knew tire management would be crucial so I started working with the traction control settings as well as driving accordingly to keep the tires fresh and it was working well.

When I came in for my pit stop and driver change, I was running second. I was really happy with my stint.

I knew we had a good car and I was very optimistic for a good result.

We had a small problem with our pit stop and that dropped us a few positions back, but Jeff was doing a great job.

When a full course yellow came, we opted not make a pit stop when several other cars did – and unfortunately that strategy didn’t play out how we thought it would and we ended up 10th at the finish.

Our Acura NSX GT3 was fast and the pace was great all weekend and that is what I am taking to our last race at Petit Le Mans.

We won there last year and it was such a special win with it being my longtime co-driver John Pew’s final race.

Hopefully we can add another good memory there in two weeks.

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