Luis Perocarpi’s LAP Motorsports operation has found a new home for its fleet of MINIs in SRO America’s TC America TCA category this season with drivers Nate Norenberg and Mark Pombo.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Perocarpi fills us in on the transition to a new championship, what’s different about this year’s cars
How would you characterize the start of the TC America season and the transition to a new paddock?
“Going into a new series, we had been to COTA with the MINIs previously and successfully so that wasn’t much of a concern. We feel like the BoP test the week prior to the test was reasonable.
“We did everything that the SRO wanted and I was satisfied with how that went. Obviously in the race, it looked fairly equal.
“Both races were very similar: two guys, two different cars kind of took off, but the other cars were fighting pretty hard, too.
“Nate found himself in a fierce battle in both of the races with the Civics and the Mazdas. Those guys really had a good battle going on. I thought it was really good. ”
What was the transition like getting the MINI prepared to race in a new class?
“The surprising part for everybody when we were talking to SRO about bringing the MINIs, what most people don’t know is that the cars are nearly 100 percent, out of the show room, stock.
“Other than our shocks, springs, safety equipment and race brake pads, everything else is stock. This is how the car comes from the show room. That has been the most difficult message that we’ve had.
“We really didn’t have much to homologate in terms of race parts because so much is stock.”
What is the biggest difference in the configuration of the MINI this year compared to how it has run in the past?
“The car is the same car except the boost is turned down considerably, so it’s quite a bit slower than even the street car is. It also has a lot of weight on it.
“The race car probably weighs as much as the street car does now. It’s fine, if that’s how we need to fit properly in the class, that’s what we’ll do.
“The transition wasn’t that hard, the challenge was to slow it down and take away the boost.”
What tracks on the schedule do you think will best suit the MINI?
“It’s interesting because in the past the MINI has been succesful almost anywhere. I think the track where we struggled the most was Lime Rock, which we don’t go to this year.
“Road America is always a favorite for us with the long straightaways and a lot of fast corners.
“The MINI does really well there. Vegas is an interesting one because we haven’t been to Vegas.
“That’s unknown territory, for sure. The question everywhere we go will be how do we maintain the tires. But we’ve got a good group of guys and enough data, I think we should have a good car.”
What have the drivers said about how the car drives in TC America trim?
“The overall performance, the power, it’s now what we used to have. Then you add the weight. I’m not sure that the drivers are thrilled about that, but we are thrilled about competing and trying to take a championship if it’s possible.
“Our goal is to always bring home some trophies and have some champagne after a long weekend.”