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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Jeff Courtney

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring JCR Motorsports driver Jeff Courtney…

Photo: Brian Cleary/SRO America

Jeff Courtney is a veteran of SRO America competition and campaigned his Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4 on a limited basis this season.

This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Courtney discusses the challenges of running the oldest GT4 car in the paddock, the purpose of the limited schedule this year, and what the future may hold for his JCR Motorsports operation.

After winning your class championship last year, you have been part time in 2019. How would you describe your season?

“We bounced around a lot this year. Part of what we were trying to do was figure out what we’re going to do for cars next year.

“Obviously the Maserati is a little outdated and doesn’t have all the new electronic goodies, so that leaves us at a bit of a disadvantage. It’s still a good car and a fun car to drive, but sadly it’s super hard to be competitive.”

Where did your affinity for Maserati come from?

“Years ago, maybe three years ago, I was running a GT3 limited schedule with an Audi and we just dind’t have the budget to maintain that.

“At that time, Maserati was running their Trofeo series and happened to be at Road America. They contacted me and asked if I would drive one of the cars up there.

“I thought it would be fun to do double duty, and that turned into a deal where they offered their North American Championship, which was six races, and whoever won that would get a free trip to Abu Dhabi to run in their World Final.

“That’s how it came about. Once I ran Road America and had a good run we went on and were lucky enough to win the championship and go to Abu Dhabi.

“That’s when we started conversations about homologating these cars for GT4. That’s where the program came from. We actually ended up building cars for clients and things like that, which have all been sold.

“Mine will be the last one to go, assuming I don’t keep it. It’s still a cool car, if only there was a place to go with it or restore it.”

How do you keep the car sharp?

“I think it’s limited now compared to the newer cars what we can do with it, and by BoP.

“What really hampers us is ride height because we need to be lower in order to get the proper camber in the car, and BoP won’t allow it to go lower.

“In some places that really hurts us because we’re using 65-70% of the tire because we can’t get the proper camber in it. But the car really wakes up with the lower ride height.

“It’s a tough balance, and even more so for this car because it’s old. These cars were built in 2012 or late 2011, so it’s old iron.”

Do you savor having the underdog car up against the newer cars?

“For sure. One of the best places for the car is Watkins Glen, and we had a really good run again this year. That’s fun because we really do feel like we’re overachieving a little bit with it.

“I don’t want to take anything away from everybody who’s out there, everybody’s got their story, right? I don’t want to downplay that, but there’s a little bit of satisfaction from it.

“We’re a lower-budget team so I’ve always dealt with that. But it’s a case of stay home and don’t do anything or run what you have! We’re just trying to stretch it out through this year and then we’ll see.”

What are you evaluating for the future?

“We’ve raced GT4 cars from Porsche and Mustang in another series and we’ve tested the Mercedes. We were going to run a Mercedes but we couldn’t get the deal together, and I ended up using my Maserati and running really well.

“We knew we were good there last year so we weren’t that sad about taking it back there.

“We don’t have a full direction for next year right now, but we want to be in GT4 Sprint. I love sprint racing. The SprintX has never been a thing for me, especially in GT4 because it’s only an hour.

“If a better opportunity aligns then we’ll go that way, but right now we’re doing the due diligence on what kind of car we want to run and what program we’re going to run.”

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