The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has undergone an evolution in recent years and Mike Bavaro, team owner of Bodymotion Racing and President of Bodymotion, Inc., likes what he sees.
Bavaro’s team currently fields two cars in the Continental Tire Challenge, the No. 5 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR in the GS class and the No. 21 Porsche Cayman in ST.
In GS, it’s the cars that have transformed during Bodymotion’s participation in the series, as it was announced in 2016 that the class would shift to GT4 specifications beginning in 2018. It was a move that has significantly bolstered car counts with new teams and manufacturers.
“Look at GS,” Bavaro said. “[The class] went down to five teams and now we’re up to 30 right now. Is that cool or what? That tells you right there it works and it will continue to work. The buzz in the paddock is good and that’s the momentum we have right now.”
Series veteran Stevan McAleer and newcomer Joe Robillard will pilot the team’s Porsche in the GS class this season.
McAleer doubles as Robillard’s driving coach at the New York-based Monticello Motor Club and while their position in the point standings may not reflect their performance two races into the season – 14th, 31 points behind the leader – the potential is there.
In January, the team led 22 laps in the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, but a brake failure in the final minutes, which McAleer persevered through, forced them to finish 11th. At the series’ most recent race at Sebring International Raceway in March, Robillard was collected in an early incident and the team finished 17th.
“[Stevan]’s got nerves of steel and he’s got brains behind it,” Bavaro said. “Some people, they have more nerve than brains, but he’s got it all. I have a lot of respect for the kid, everybody likes him. I think Joe is being helped by the coaching and he’s come a long, long way in a few short months. We’ve only done two races with Joe and I think he’s got real, real good promise going forward.”
The team’s ST class entry with drivers Jason Rabe and Max Faulkner – both of whom are also instructors at Monticello – face a different landscape in its class.
With the introduction of the new-for-2018 TCR class, ST is in its final season of competition in 2018, with most former ST teams making the transition to either TCR or GS. Bodymotion’s entry is currently the only Porsche in contention for the final ST championship.
“I would love to deliver the drivers and our race team a championship,” said Bavaro, whose team holds a one-point lead in the standings.
“We missed the GS championship last year by a couple points in second. The year before that we finished third. This year, right now, we happen to be slimly leading the points two races in, so we’re anxious to keep that momentum going. We’d love to win a championship.”
A championship would be icing on the cake for what has been a reinvestment year of sorts for the New Jersey team. With the purchase of its Porsche Cayman GT4 MR from Porsche Motorsport, Bavaro – a Porsche privateer since 1983 – sees his team reaping the rewards of a more direct support line from the German manufacturer.
“Bodymotion is evolving at a pretty fast rate because of the cooperation of IMSA and Porsche,” Bavaro said. “Everything is a step up for us now. We’re recommitting and putting more dollars into our infrastructure. With Porsche’s cooperation and IMSA helping us out, they’re guiding us along, and I don’t mean that just from the top, I mean everybody.”
As the team continues to evolve, Bavaro expressed interest of his own in the new TCR class following ST’s elimination at the end of the season.
“I think those TCR cars are like matchbox cars,” Bavaro said. “They’re kind of neat. I think of them as the next generation and let’s face it, those are the kids that are going to be driving the car. I think (the cars) are kind of neat looking and I think it’s going to be fun to watch.”