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NEPVEU: Reflecting on a New Racing Chapter

McElrea Racing’s Thomas Nepveu files his first Sportscar365 column…

Photo: Jessica Johnk/Porsche

It’s been a very busy but incredibly rewarding season so far with a lot of learning opportunities.

It wasn’t an easy decision to step away from single-seaters, given that it’s been the foundation of my racing career so far, but sports car racing has been a whole new exciting chapter and I couldn’t be happier to be going on this new adventure.

I can confidently say that Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America is one of the most competitive series I’ve had the pleasure of racing in, and the learning curve has been pretty steep.

McElrea Racing have been wonderful to work with and every race has come with new challenges and another opportunity to expand my wheel-to-wheel skills.

Starting off at Sebring was probably one of the more challenging but fun season openers I’ve competed in. The track is so unique and tough, and getting accustomed to the bumps in a brand new type of race car was an experience that I don’t think can ever be replicated.

I was aiming for some top 10 finishes aboard my No. 24 Allrem | Richelieu | Cromwell machine, so to finish just outside of that felt a little bittersweet to be so close, but it was still a successful weekend overall.

There were so many cars in the field and I got up to speed very quickly, which was just one of many positive takeaways from the opening weekend.

As we crossed over to the West coast for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, I couldn’t wait to see how it would feel to be back racing on a street circuit, this time equipped with a much bigger car package than what I’ve previously been used to driving.

The entire weekend was plagued by yellow flags, which are a normal part of the sport, but I learned the hard way that a small lapse in focus can be costly.

A slight brush with the wall compromised my exit and sent me into the opposite outside wall, subsequently ending my race.

It was a shame, because we were making good progress moving up the field, but I was determined to bounce back in a big way.

Photo: Bob Chapman/Autosport Image

The Miami Grand Prix was definitely a highlight of the season, and was by far the most comfortable I’ve felt in the car.

Since Miami International Autodrome is a newer stop on the calendar, I felt like the grid was competing on an equal playing field, which I could use to my advantage.

It was a shame that the first race of the weekend resulted in a DNF after an odd collision with another driver, but we had the pace and were looking very solid, so I knew we could replicate the same level of performance the following day.

It was a hard fought battle to say the least, but securing a top 5 finish in the second race felt like redemption.

We’ve been gradually edging closer and closer to the pointier end of the field with the more time I spent in the car, and it felt great to pick up my best result of the season and bring home some much deserved points for the team.

I’m feeling more and more confident in my driving with every lap, and I love the fact that we get so much seat time every weekend. I can’t wait to head to Watkins Glen for the next round.

It’s such an iconic old-school track and I think it will be well suited to my driving style.

I just completed my first-ever stock car race in NASCAR Pinty’s this past weekend. Sunset Speedway is a notoriously challenging oval track, and even though the event didn’t quite pan out the way we had hoped, I’m very optimistic for the rest of the season.

This is a whole new kind of racing for me and I’m eager to learn as much as I possibly can. Stock cars are far heavier than anything I’ve driven in the past, and a lot of the stops on the calendar will be brand new for me.

Photo: Matthew Manor/NASCAR

I’ve had some test sessions in the Jacombs Racing Ford stock car in the past, but it’s a different experience when you’re embedded in the race weekend atmosphere at the track, especially when the days are condensed into a very fast-paced one day format.

The race itself was a wild ride, and probably my most unique racing experience thus far. The 250-lap event was incredibly fast-paced, with a five-minute break at the halfway mark.

I lacked a bit of speed in the opening half, which made things challenging given the somewhat rough-and-tumble nature of the series.

Nonetheless, I was still able to pull off some solid overtakes and gained a lot of experience very quickly in defending.

There were a lot of cautions across the entirety of the race, which made it challenging to maintain progress since the field was consistently packed together and it was difficult to try to build up a gap.

I had to learn to move quickly and create opportunities for myself, because you never knew when the green flag running would get halted again.

Unfortunately we were plagued with an electrical issue and forced to return to the paddock to undergo some repairs on the car. The delay ultimately led to us ending off 37 laps down, which is far from being representative of the team’s hard work and true performance.

It was a shame for our race to end the way it did, but I strongly believe the day went well overall. This is a remarkable opportunity and learning experience, and things are only looking up from here.

I am already looking forward to our first road course race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next week!

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