FCP Euro driver Michael Hurczyn heads into the TC America season finale at Las Vegas with a 40 point lead in the championship following two more podium finishes in the last round at Road America.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Hurczyn tells us about how he’s managed to finish on the podium in every race so far, his plan to clinch the championship in Vegas, why racing in the series makes sense for an online parts distributor, and more.
What were the track conditions like in your last two races at Road America given all the rain?
“Saturday was crazy because the track was fully wet and we probably should have been on rain tires but we were out on slicks. That was just an exercise of just keeping the car on track versus actually racing.
“Sunday, the conditions were bad but I don’t know if they were worse when we actually started compared to when we were supposed to start.
“The rain lightened up a little bit but there was water everywhere. Again, it was about trying to keep the car on the track. There was certainly more grip with the rain tires.
“I had a good start. Because the race started under yellow, it was a single file restart so you’re allowed to accelerate out of Turn 14.
“I got a nice gap instead of having to fight with cars going into Turn 1, and then on lap three or four I went off roading through the Turn 1 gravel and dropped back to fourth before fighting back to second.
“We had the car, we had the pace to win it, but I left my braking just a little bit too late and hydroplaned just a little bit.”
Your consistency this season has been remarkable, was that your plan coming into the year?
“Last year was a frustrating year for us because we were in a DSG transmission car, and it was a single class.
“It wasn’t really fair to either competitor because they kept trying to knock down the sequential cars to get them slowed down and to make our cars faster, which they were not going to be able to do.
“We had a pretty frustrating season. We made a decision in the offseason to upgrade to the sequential gearboxes.
“Our goal last year was to win the championship as well, that’s what we do this for, but now that we have the sequential gearbox the car is running up front.
“I wish we had them last year! For me it’s always been about the long game.
“Good, consistent finishes are more important than trying to take unnecessary chances to try and win one particular race.”
Can you compare the DSG and the sequential gearboxes now that you’ve driven both?
“In our particular car, we took about 200, 250 pounds off of the front axle. That right there helps under braking and it helps tire wear.
“Also, the differential is much better. We have better braking capabilities and it feels more stable going into the corner, and when you’re back on throttle accelerating out of a corner it’s a little bit better.
“The actual shifting from when you press the paddle to when the gear engages is a little bit faster because the DSG has a bit of a delay, but once the shift happens the DSG is quick.
“It’s just the whole process of having to think ahead, pressing the paddle when you wanted to shift about two seconds after you press it.
“It’s just a different driving experience. Overall the package is better. It’s not significant, but it is tenths per corner, which adds up.”
How thankful are you to have built up a cushion in the championship going into the finale in Las Vegas that is such an unknown for everyone?
“I’m really thankful. We have a really great team. My teammate Nate Vincent has been nipping at our heels all year.
“Going into the last round with a 40 point lead and 50 points on offer, he’d have to essentially finish first and second or two firsts and I’d have to DNF both for him to take over.
“But for us, the last race of the season, we’re going to have about 30 people there supporting us from the company and our sponsors, so it’s about consistency and putting on a good show, and then we’ll have some fun on Sunday night.”
What makes racing in TC America make sense for FCP Euro?
“FCP Euro sells European car parts online. We sell for Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes, for all the major makes. We’re growing really quickly.
“The racing effort for us is a branding exercise where we go out and prove to the world that we’re not just an e-commerce player, we also have some really smart and dedicated people.
“We want to use it as a level of attraction to let people know that we exist and also to add some credibility and stature. You can buy parts anywhere online so why would people want to buy from FCP Euro?
“We go out there and put a face to a name, shake a lot of hands, and get enthusiasts involved by inviting them to races, giving away tickets, and we also have a documentary series called The Paddock that’s up on Amazon and YouTube that follows the racing series.
“It’s a big branding exposure exercise for us and so far it’s worked really well.”