Before last weekend’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, I had the opportunity to race in the World Challenge series at Barber Motorsports Park. For all the great things World Challenge has going for it these days, one of the downsides is the weekend schedule – drivers spend a lot of time waiting around.
Fast forward one week the the Laguna Seca round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and downtime was definitely not a problem.
My official duties for the weekend included racing in both the ST class in Continental and the GTD class in TUDOR.
Pulling double duty is really no big deal for me as it is something I have been doing since 2004, but this weekend I added something new.
My GTD team, Park Place Motorsports, has a new addition under the tent. This season we will be running a Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series, with my good friend Dr. Jim Norman and his son Josh handling the driving duties in the Am class.
It look little convincing for me to agree to coach the duo throughout the weekend, which meant I would get to hop in and throw down a lap or two for data and video comparison. Where do I sign up?
The end result was a very busy, but also very rewarding weekend.
Thursday was a promoter test day for the ST car and the Lamborghini. First up was the Lamborghini and all I can say is WOW! It is unbelievably fast for a GT car. The race pace in the Huracáns was only about half second off the fastest GTLM cars.
It has ABS, traction control, wide tires, and a lot of downforce which makes it very fast through the long sweeping corners of Laguna Seca. Combine that with mandated spring rates that are about 10 times too stiff, and you get one hell of a ride to try to hang onto.
The real shock comes when you hop out of the Lamborghini into the ST car. At first it feels like the car is broken. You would swear you are only getting one quarter throttle until you see the other ST cars doing the same speed.
The lap time difference on the test day was more than 17 seconds between the two cars and as you can imagine, the driving style was about as different. Momentum, patience, smooth inputs, and very early power are keys to the ST car, whereas the Lamborghini uses lots of fast inputs and it very much a point-and-squirt driving style in the slow corners.
On Friday, I added the GTD car to the mix. Finding myself back in a Porsche this season I immediately feel at home in the Park Place 911. The only thing I had to really remind myself that this was the only car that weekend I was driving without ABS! Trust me, you don’t want to confuse things in this case.
In order for me to juggle everything on a busy weekend like this I must be organized. I make a schedule of all my duties and send them along to each team so that they know where am at all times.
Sometimes there are conflicts so I do the best I can to prioritize. For example, the first Lamborghini race started 10 minutes into the Continental Tire driver’s meeting.
The meeting went long because someone kept asking questions (me), so I was only able to be on the radio for the second half of the race. Fortunately the rest of the Park Place guys are great at what they do and they called a great race while I was gone.
In the end the weekend was mixed with some good results and some disappointing ones. Jim and Josh took first and second in their two races, and left Laguna with the championship lead.
Patrick Lindsey got his first pro pole in our Park Place GTD Porsche which set us up to claim Park Place’s first-ever victory.
The tough one to swallow was my ST race. My co-driver Luis Rodriguez Jr. got hit early in the race and the contact put a hole in the radiator. We fixed it and got points but any hopes of a good finish were done and we are pretty far back in the points now after starting the season so well.
Next up is Detroit where I will only be racing in the GTD class. Hopefully it will be a nice, relaxing, quiet weekend that results in another victory.