Better late than never? Laguna Seca Write-up and 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Season Recap!
Coming into the final weekend of our rookie season, I had fallen fr...om 4th to 6th in overall points after contact in the previous round at CotA resulted in me not finishing the second race. I had only driven a few laps at Laguna Seca before, so I felt like I was coming into the last round less prepared than most of the drivers, who had either raced here before, or even live locally. I find that I really enjoy the dynamic nature, elevation change, and flow of Laguna Seca, but there are a few points on the circuit that take precision and consistency to make maximum commitment, namely the blind-entry Turn 6. Having fallen out of the top 5 for overall points, we were just outside of our season target of 5th, so Todd gave me every opportunity to try to make it up in the last race, which would require me to finish at least one position ahead of Mason Filippi on average over the 2 races. We had an extra set of sticker tires to practice on so that we could get the most out of those sessions and I was hoping to take advantage of that. Unfortunately, a work emergency delayed our race engineer from joining the practice and qualifying day, so we would find ourselves a little behind on setup by the time we made it to race day. To compound things, I made a mistake that threw away the majority of the opportunity that we had made to maximize our practice session. In Friday’s first practice, I was on tires with only 1 heat cycle, when I turned in slightly early for that blind Turn 6. This turn is a blind turn-in and then drops into a huge compression at the apex. Once turned-in, if I had tried to correct, I would have headed off the track with a lot of speed. I had to follow my trajectory at that point, which led me to hit the tall inner curb which is there to discourage cutting the corner. With the enormous compression at that point, everything in my left front corner bottomed out, leading to a broken wheel and sheared coil-over shock absorber. OUCH.
Eric, Marshall, and Kevin did a great job springing into action to get the car fixed up for the next practice session and qualifiying. I qualified in 8th place, starting beside 5-time PWC champion Pierre Kleinubing and immediately behind California local, Mason Filippi, and I knew my target was right ahead of me. On the start, I stayed on the outside as everyone dove to the inside of Turn2. This netted me a couple positions through T2, but my compromised exit gave them back up by the time we came out of T3. I settled into 8th and found myself defending against Mark Drennan in the MX5 Miata, which owns the track record here. I held him off for a few laps before he got by under braking into the last turn. I got onto the back bumper of 2016 TC Champion Toby Grahovec and got by him while also battling with Tony Rivera in his 370Z. It then on the next lap that I turned in just a hair early for Turn 6 and clipped the tall inner curb AGAIN. I kept on the gas up the hill, but then found myself unable to adequately slow for the corkscrew, going off a bit wide. I managed to gather it up and stay out of the way of the other cars as I ashamedly called to Eric on the radio that I had broken the car again and wouldn’t be able to continue. I made my way into the pits, with the left front corner dragging on the body.
UGH… I felt horrible to have made the same mistake again, breaking another wheel, coil-over shock, and even a hub. Not only that, but I’d now lost any points that would have kept me in the hunt for that top-5 season finish we were seeking. I was certain to have disappointed Todd and the rest of the team, in front of several friends, family and FCP Euro reps. I was down on myself for a while and it must have been apparent to those around me. But, in perfect example of what a great team I’m part of, I received nothing but more encouragement from everyone. Furthermore, I did not hear a single complaint or hint of frustration from the boys who were taking care of the car, nor did I have a question in my mind that we would have any trouble making the second race that day. Eric, Marshall, and Kevin got right to work and had the car back to being race ready with time to spare. I can’t thank everyone enough for rallying to get me and the car ready for the last race! It was great to have so many guests for our west-coast race, too. Attendees included my cousins Melissa and Mike and their girls, Bella and Gianna, my friends Simon and Karlie and their girls, Charlotte and Lucy, my friend Fabien, who I hadn’t seen in 10 years, and, in attendance for the first time as my wife, Christina Magagnoli!
I was starting in 8th again for the second race, which would be a standing start. I didn’t get a great start, basically maintaining position over the first several laps. It’s worth noting that I haven’t lost a single position on a start all year, as far as I can recall. I was behind Tony Rivera’s 370Z for the first couple laps until he got by the Accord of Karl Wittmer, who had his rear bumper flapping in the wind from contact on the start. Karl was eventually shown a flag to pit for mechanical repair, which allowed me to inherit 7th place. I maintained pace with Rivera and got 6th position when he had a momentary engine stumble headed up to the corkscrew. Shortly thereafter, Nick Wittmer caught up with the two of us, having started from the back. Nick was hooked up this weekend! He got between Rivera and myself and was putting the pressure on me. As all 3 of us were battling, Rivera got back by Wittmer. I was considering not putting up that big of a fight to Nick, knowing how much pace he had this weekend, but when I saw that Rivera had successfully battled back, I looked at the gap ahead and calculated that Nick wouldn’t be able to catch the next guy ahead in the remaining time, even if I let him by unimpeded. So, when he got back by Rivera, I drove hard and defended where I needed to. We ran side-by-side in corner after corner, battling hard. I love racing this guy! Eventually, he got a bit of a run down the front straight and got side-by-side with me through the Andretti Hairpin (T2). On the way out, pulling back off the exit curbing, he gave me a sizeable hip check that sealed his advantage and he got the position going into T3. It appears that he hadn’t meant to bump me and we were frankly both a bit confused as to why it occurred. I hadn’t called it in, but the stewards reviewed the incident on their own accord, appropriately electing to take no action. From this point, Wittmer gradually pulled a gap on me, while I eventually put enough room between Rivera and myself to secure my position of 7th place, where I finished the race.
Closing out a difficult weekend with a 7th place finish felt acceptable, but I couldn’t say I felt great about it. I suppose that’s to be expected, though. I won’t feel fully satisfied with a race result unless I’ve reached the top step of the podium! I did, however, take the time to reflect back how far we’ve come this season and I felt that we had a tremendous amount to be proud of. We came into Pirelli World Challenge as a new driver and new team, trying to make a mark in the front of a hotly contested class of pro racing.
We suffered a rough introduction at our first weekend at VIR, when I was blatantly taken out by a car that had missed it’s braking point while running 5th in BOTH races that weekend! From there, we went to a track that was new to me, yet we improved at Mosport to finish 6th in the first race and 5th in the second. Lime Rock was another track that was new to me and things started a little rough, but we netted a 9th place finish in the first race and improved to 5th in the second race, in front of a huge turnout of employees from FCP Euro and their families. After the summer break, we headed out to Utah where evading the Lap 1 / Turn 1 melee in each race was initially the key to success. After that, it was managing the heat at high elevation that was causing all the cars to overheat! Quickly adapting to the conditions helped to net us our first podium position with a 3rd place finish! We ended up with 6th in the second race, leaving Utah feeling a new high that we found we liked very much. At Circuit of the Americas in TX, we showed true pace and strength, as had finally started to figure out a setup that worked well on the car. We were a force in the first race, finishing with another 3rd place finish! That podium celebration, standing in the same place as the Formula 1 winners, was an incredible experience. In the second race, we had the pace and I was in a position to win it. That was, until the yellow flag came out. That lap after the restart was the most exciting of the season. It ultimately ended with a crash between me and Liefooghe that ended my race, but the conditions surrounding the contact also were an important statement of how I was going to race – and I wouldn’t be pushed around.
Our final position in the championship was 6th, just one spot away from our target. But the other target was to run up front and be noticed. I think we achieved that in spades! To top it off, at the awards banquet in Monterey, I was awarded the PWC TC class Rookie of the Year! We can improve our finishing position next year, but we only had one shot at this! I am incredibly proud of the Rooster Hall Racing team, thankful to our partners at FCP Euro, Rowe, and Rein, and so thankful to Todd Brown for giving me the opportunity to pilot the car. HRX has provided me incredible safety gear that also had me looking great and feeling confident every time I suited up. Getting to this point started a long, long time ago. It was the support of my parents, in particular, as well as my family, friends, and wife that enabled me to pursue my dream. It was also my racing friends, students, clients, and co-drivers who have graciously given me so many opportunities to demonstrate my ability over the years. I offer a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone and anyone who contributed even the slightest bit of support to me. I hope to continue to make you proud and build on our success in 2018!
If any of my BMW friends have been contemplating a membership to the BMW Car Club of America, please give it a read. It pays off in more ways than you'd imagine!
I might have some words in this article, too
Thank you to everyone who has been part of my growth as a driver and racer over the years. This goes out to you!
Rooster Hall Racing FCP Euro Rowe Racing #ReinA...utomotive #HRX #BespokeMotorsport
Joanne DiPrima Magagnoli Angelo Magagnoli Tina Magagnoli Todd Brown Michelle Brown Sean Brown Eric Meyer Marshall Papadopoulos Kevin Tuuri Gary De La Rosa and all my family and friends who have supported me this year and in the past! Too many to list, but I appreciate you all!
SET YOUR DVR'S! Tonight at 7:00 EST on CBS Sports Network (reruns at 10pm and 4am!), the Pirelli World Challenge Championships Touring Car Race from Circuit of ...The Americas. This was our most exciting race to date and I think you'll be on the edge of your seat!
FCP Euro FCP Euro Motorsports Rooster Hall Racing Rowe Racing #ReinAutomotive #HRX #BespokeMototsport DriveFasterNow.com
Race 2 and Weekend Wrap-Up: Despite having the BEST RACE OF OUR SEASON, we lost a shot at the podium, and maybe a win, in unfortunately spectacular fashion.
Her...e's the link to watch the race: https://www.motortrendondemand.com/…/replay-201…/0_l7mylw2s/
Coming off of a podium finish in Round 9, I was feeling confident going into Round 10 at Circuit of the Americas. Our Engineer Gary De La Rosa's setup on the car was the best that we've had thus far in the season, with a small change to further improve on it going into this race. I was enjoying the track and enjoying racing with the group up front. Starting from 5th on the grid, I felt that I was within striking range of the front-runners.
We had a standing start for this race and I was on the inside row heading into Turn 1. Toby Grahovec, starting in 4th, got a great launch and got to the inside of his teammate Matt Travis going into T1. But, he braked just a moment too late, pushing wide and slowing Matt through the turn, as well. That opened the inside for me to pass them both and immediately get up to 3rd place before we even reached Turn 2! I pressed ahead and kept pace with Wittmer and Liefooghe as they battled up front, while Grahovec kept pressure on me from behind. Keeping close and managing my pace paid off when Liefooghe tried getting inside of Wittmer going into the tight T15, but made contact with Wittmer's inside rear, getting him loose and slowing them both down. I got a run out of the turn and got inside of Liefooghe going into the T16-18 complex and came out ahead, now up to 2nd place! I caught and put pressure on Wittmer, going side-by-side with him at the end of the back straight. I felt that I had a bit of pace on him and had built a small gap from Liefooghe behind me. I was having a lot of fun at this point!And that's when the full course yellow came out...
On the restart, I stayed on Wittmer's bumper and got a good run out of Turn 1, creeping up beside him on his left as we went through T2, getting fully beside him at the turn-in point for T3. Side-by-side through the esses is a challenging task that requires a lot of cooperation between both drivers. As I was on the inside for the left-handed T3, I had an advantage on entry and he backed out. As I left him room to go beside me, it put me off-line into T4 and the car got loose. In order to recover and not get into Wittmer in the process, I had to bail out, which caused me to shortcut T5. Knowing that this was not a clean pass, I looked for an opportunity to let Wittmer get back around me. On the run down to T11, I let him go by as efficiently as possible, but Liefooghe took advantage of the situation and went on the inside of me into T11. We came out side-by-side, with me tracked out fully onto the curb and we had a solid side-to-side bump that folded in my mirror. I pushed it back out and gave him a thumbs-up as we proceeded down the straight next to each other. He got a bump-draft from Grahovec that nudged him ahead and he edged me out going through T12, running me out to the runoff. He was racing aggressively, which was just fine, though he also received a warning from the stewards.
Liefooghe got a run to the inside of Wittmer as they went through the T16-18 complex side-by-side, which put him on the outside for T19. I followed Wittmer's inside line, with the intent to keep Liefooghe on the outside and hopefully execute a pass into T20. Liefooghe tried to tuck in behind Wittmer as they went into the turn, though, and at that point I was committed to being there. We made contact (my bumper to his door, at the most optimistic point) and our wheels banged as he spun out in the turn. I headed into the gravel trap, knowing that my suspension was bent or broken. I was able to limp the car into the pits and not draw out a caution as Liefooghe managed to continue to finish the race. I wasn't going to finish this one... The implications are bigger for Greg, sadly, who is fighting for the championship.
Upon my review of the incident, I accepted that I carried the majority of the responsibility, mainly from the perspective that I was the passer, rather than the one being passed. Call it 51%. However, there was joint responsibility. Greg had been driving aggressively in general, but he changed his line during the entry phase of the corner and essentially committed to me backing out of it. I am not going to be pushed around and I had committed just as much to my move as he had to his. I spoke with Greg and I apologized to him after stating the above. In further reviews and discussions, it seems that I may be accepting too much responsibility.
I only know Greg in a casual perspective, but I don't have any problems with him or the way he drives. He might have a problem with me at this point - I don't know. But, I like him just fine. I must add that he was a complete gentleman and spoke with me calmly about the incident, despite what I could tell was a lot of negative emotion churning within him. He gains a lot of my respect for that.
I come away from this weekend hugely proud of our team's performance. We ran truly up front, keeping pace with the leaders and contending for an overall win for the first time. In fact, we were fastest for the first time in a race session, running the fastest lap of the race. This came in large part from a revised setup that Gary and I developed coming into this weekend. Eric Meyer and Marshall Papadopoulos prepared the car impeccably and, with Kevin Tuuri's help, collected the data that Gary needed to prescribe the additional incremental changes through the weekend that led to this result. Thanks to Todd Brown for assembling this team, Michelle Brown for essentially keeping us all alive, and Sean Brown for doing anything that needed doing. I am impressed how far we've evolved and matured as a team this year and we're proving that we're a force to be reckoned with!
We couldn't be here without the support of FCP Euro along with ROWE Motor Oil - USA and #ReinAutomotive. Thanks to Michael Hurczyn, Nate Vincent, and Mike Roselli for coming down to support us!
Headed back from a fantastic weekend in Utah with my Rooster Hall Racing team. The high altitude and hot temperatures posed additional challenges beyond that of... competing in a hotly contested 30-car TC field. We struggled a bit to maximize our pace in qualifying, setting ourselves up in 8th position to start the first of the two races yesterday. But, what an unexpected sight to see, when I walked into the trailer after qualifying and was greeted by my father Angelo and his cousin Tony Magagnoli, coming all the way from NY/PA! How nice of them!
I got a decent start down the long straightaway and picked up one position before turn 1. The leader, Paul Holton, went off oh his own in T1, while I watched the M235iR of Ruud brake too late and push wide. I thought he clobbered Nick Wittmer, but Nick was heads up and was able to steer out and avoid the impending contact. As we cleared T1, there was quite the melee behind us that brought out the full course caution. After 4 laps of caution, we resumed the race and I gave chase to the 350Z of Tony Rivera and the M235iR of Toby Grahovec. Only a couple laps in, my car went hit a coolant temp limit and stopped accelerating down the front straight.
The engine performance recovered after I got through T1. But, over the next several laps, I had to modify my driving more and more severely to keep engine temps down. The thin air at our ~5000ft elevation were hindering heat transfer from the radiators and oil coolers, creating problems for almost everybody and really putting our #RoweMotorOil to the test. I was seeking "clean" air on the straights (no drafting), short-shifting everywhere, and generally driving the entire track in a gear higher than I normally would. I was eventually able to keep the temps low enough to keep the engine from going into protection mode, but lap times were suffering from this, combined with very hot track temps.
I watched Rivera lock up under braking and go off in the Attitudes section, which closed me in on him. As I gave chase, he suddenly stumbled (presumably overheating) and I cruised on by into 3rd position. For the remainder of the race, I just focused on managing the car and the rapidly degrading tire performance as Ruud was gradually closing on me. I had enough buffer, though, and crossed the finish line in 3rd, giving myself and the RHR team or first podium finish in professional racing. I must say, that moment ranks in my top 3 ever in racing!
Race 2 was only a few hours later. We were lucky (I feel that I partially make my own luck) to not have any damage to fix, unlike several of our competitors. We made a setup change and fit ready for an even hotter race. My best lap in the first race set my qualifying position for the standing start in the second race, again starting in 8th, so the outside of the 4th row.
Again, I got a decent start, following Jayson Clunie into T1. At the last moment, as I was closing in on him, he braked a little earlier than I thought was necessary, and I dodged to the right to take him on the outside. As we turned in, I sensed another car coming in hot (call it a 6th sense). I opened up the wheel and drove into the runoff area as Jayson got clobbered by the other car. I drove out as far as I needed to to not be collected, narrowly staying in the runoff and not getting out into the gravel. As things got sorted out, I found myself in 6th place, with 10 cars caught up in the T1 incident.
Once we resumed green flag conditions, I gave chase to Mason Filipi, while opening up a gap from those behold me. The gap to Mason would close and open from lap to lap, but I never got quite close enough to make a passing attempt on him. I continued managing the temperatures and the tires while trying to ignore that my feet were getting extremely hot. Simply holding the gas pedal down for the entire length of the straightaway was turning into a very uncomfortable situation as the heat transferred through the sole of my shoe. I managed to bring the car home in 6th place, with no damage incurred through the weekend, earning very solid season points.
I'm very proud of our Rooster Hall Racing team for our performance this weekend and thankful to Todd and Michelle Brown for providing this opportunity for me to represent the team on the podium. Crew Chief Eric Meyer, Mechanic Marshall Papadopoulos, Race Engineer Gary De La Rosa, and new team manager Kevin Tuuri all did a fantastic job of giving me the best chance of creating a good finish for the team.
Thank you to #FCPEuro for their support and partnership to realize our mutual goals. #HRX #BespokeMotorsport for outfitting me in the most incredible race suit, Nomex undergarments, shoes and gloves to keep me protected and comfortable. We look forward to Rounds 9 and 10 in less than 3 weeks at Circuit of the Americas!
It's race day here at Utah Motorsports Campus! Tune in to see Anthony Magagnoli in the Rooster Hall Racing / FCP Euro M235iR as we take on rounds 7 and of 8 of ...the Pirelli World Challenge Championships. Our first race starts at 12:30 PM MDT!
You can watch the action live at: http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo/ or by using Motor Trend OnDemand.
The full schedule is available here: http://files.world-challenge.com/…/2017-PWC-UTAH-Schedule.p…
Don't miss out on some awesome racing action this weekend in Rounds 7 and 8 at Utah Motorsports Campus. You can tune in to Motor Trend OnDemand to see the Roost...er Hall Racing / FCP Euro M235iR live in action as we look for another great finish!
The full schedule is available here: http://files.world-challenge.com/…/2017-PWC-UTAH-Schedule.p…
That's a wrap for this weekend, running my trusty 007 SpecE30 (for sale) with NASA here at UMC to prep for the PWC race next weekend. Thanks to Eric Meyer and K...evin Tuuri for the support this weekend.
Now to Grattan for a couple days for work-work, then head back out here on Wednesday night! I won't complain about the travel, but being away from Tina is the hard part!
#NASA #BMWMOTORSPORT #UMC #PirelliWorldChallenge #FCPeuro #RoosterHallRacing #ReinAutomotive #RoweMotorOil #RoweRacing #HRX #BespokeMotorsport
Did you know that #RoweMotorOil is not only for European vehicles? It also excels in North American and Asian makes, as well as racing engines! That, I bet, you... already knew
And, since I purchased my Rowe oil for my EcoDiesel RAM from #FCPEuro, I never have to buy it again since everything you buy from them is Guaranteed For Life... I can simply exchange it at the next change!
I also bought a couple of jugs of Rowe's diesel exhaust fluid to top off my tank and it was less expensive than purchasing locally. I just saved over $125 by performing my 10k mile service myself
#RoweRacing #DriveFasterNow #RoosterHallRacing #SpecE30 #BMWMOTORSPORT #DIYMechanic #EcoDiesel #Mopar #RAM #FCA
I just got my Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset hooked up and functioning with my driving simulator the other night. First of all, I am blown away that this t...echnology is so accessible for individuals to have in their homes. This was SciFi stuff when I was a kid. Kids today will grow up with access to this. I can only imagine what it will be like in another 15 years.
Once I got past the demo, which included meeting an alien (freaky) and almost getting eaten by a TRex (also freaky), I got hooked up with iRacing. I made it about 5 laps before making a maneuver (turned around on track) that upset my balance between my eyes and my inner ear. I got queezy and had to stop! I tried again about 20 min later, but only made it a few laps before the same thing happened. This time, induced by the road dropping away and my body not feeling the forces that it expected to! I gave it up for the night, bummed.
I gave it another try last night. Fortunately, it went better this time. I was running 5-10 laps on a track before stopping to reset myself, but I wasn't getting sick. Now comes the cool part... the level of immersion is so much greater than with viewing on monitors. I was able to look at my reference points and see them much more easily, as well as be able to place the car much more effectively. The car's attitude was also communicated to me better, so I could respond to what it was doing. I'm still adapting, but at each track I tried out, I easily beat my best lap time there within 5 laps! I'm looking forward to getting better acclimated to the system and possibly upgrade the computer a bit more along the way, as the image is a rather grainy and I hope can be improved.
Thanks to Andre Lorico, Scott Barton, and Denny Barker for help on the setup!
Lots of driving tips included here, as well as discussion on club racing schools!
Here's the link to the podcast!
Giveaway! Pirelli World Challenge driver Anthony Magagnoli slipped us a few hero cards after we recorded a @slipangleshow episode which is live now! Comment b...elow and we will pick 3 people at random to receive one plus a few SlipAngle stickers. @z3spddmn @roosterhall #tracktuned #slipangle #swag #freebie
Lime Rock Park Recap
LIME ROCK PARK RECAP
Coming off of 2 solid finishes at Mosport, we were feeling good about our Rounds 5 & 6 this past weekend at Lime Rock Park. However, I had ...never been there before, so we took the opportunity to attend the test day on the Tuesday before the Friday/Saturday race events. As I tried to figure out the critical ins and outs of this small 1.5 mile track, we were also working on setting up the car to be optimized for the almost-exclusive right-hand turns. By the end of the day, though, we felt like we were further behind than where we had started.
There were lots of big names joining in for this race at Lime Rock. Will Turner and Dane Cameron would be campaigning 2 BMW M235iR's, Randy Pobst would be driving a BMW, and local driver and reigning TCA Champion Elivan Goulart would be driving a Lotus Exige. The Lotus and the Audi S3 TCRs were viewed as the cars to have for this track that favors handling over power. We were targeting to finish in the top 10 for the weekend, out of this 32 car TC class field.
On Friday, we had a practice session that led directly into qualifying, so nothing more than a tire change would be possible between sessions. With Gary in attendance now, we were reworking the setup on the car to get it to work for us. The first practice already looked a little rough, with me coming in 12th. In qualifying, though, everyone dropped the hammer harder than us and we found ourselves starting in a disappointing 15th, right in the middle of the pack.
We made a couple other adjustments for the race and went into survival mode. I'd be starting alongside Will Turner and a couple spots behind Pobst. I got a decent start and found a gap up the middle of the straight that I tucked into, following the 370Z of Tony Rivera into Turn 1, passing Wittmer in the process. I pulled past Turner coming out of the Left Hander and focused forward. After the first restart after a full course caution, I made a pass on Pobst on the outside of Big Bend. A few laps later, I got past Ricca on the inside of Big Bend, while Liefooge fell back with an issue. Having moved up to 8th place, I was settled in and defending against a charging Nick Wittmer.
When a full course yellow bunched up the field again, I found myself behind Rivera. On the restart, Wittmer got aggressive, setting up for a pass on the inside of the downhill. This actually slowed us both up, allowing Rivera to pull a few car lengths gap. From there, I was in full defense mode against Wittmer. I was finding out where he was able to find a slight bit of time on me, though, and work on these areas through the race. Remember, this was still my first time at Lime Rock! Wittmer couldn't get enough of a run anywhere to execute a pass, and I was holding him off.
In the last laps, though, the next 4 cars ahead started battling each other, allowing us to catch them. On the last lap, I went to the outside of Big Bend (turn 1), trying to make a move around Rivera. It didn't work and I fell back in line, but entered the Left Hander a little tight and with a touch more speed than I wanted. It compromised my exit onto the Right Hander just enough that Wittmer was able to get his nose beside my rear bumper before I could cross back in front of him before the kink on the No Name Straight. That was it. He had the inside line into the Uphill. I tried to carry the speed on the outside, but he was pulling ahead at the top of the hill. Going into West Bend, I made an attempt to carry speed on the outside, but I had to lift on exit as Wittmer pulled ahead. I glanced in my mirrors and found Pobst making a move to my inside! Where the heck had he come from?! We went down the Downhill side by side. I carried as much speed as I dared on the outside, flinging up tire clag that was built up out there. As Pobst went rather conservative on the inside, it was enough to keep my nose ahead of his and come across the finish in 9th place. Quite a rewarding improvement over my starting position! As a team, we were thrilled with this result and looked forward to starting in 9th for the second race.
On Saturday, our title sponsor, FCP Euro, was hosting an employee gathering at the race. They are based in Connecticut, so this was a great opportunity for the team members to meet and engage with our Rooster Hall Racing team, watch some great racing, build comraderie, and promote their brand! Some 30 employee came out - about half the entire company - and most brought additional family members. The hillsides along the track were packed with a huge turnout of fans, and the FCP Euro compound was well-placed, overlooking the Left Hander. I felt a lot of pressure to provide a good show for them!
On the standing start for the second race, I easily pulled ahead of the Audi of Coupal. Filippi got by me coming through the Right Hander and I then had Grahovec on my tail. The Miata of Weisberg had a slight touch with Filippi that put him off, allowing me by. I got a better run than him onto the front straight, got to the inside of him through Big Bend, and pulled ahead going into the Left Hander. There next car in my sights was the Miata of Gallagher. I chased him for several laps before finally getting a run on him coming out of the Right Hander and passing going into the Uphill. He battled back, though, sticking his nose in where he saw an opening, bumping me through the sections where he was quicker. He got his nose inside of me in between Turns 1 and 2 of Big Bend and made contact with my RR tire when I turned in for Turn 2, putting me sideways. At this point, Eric called in the contact to Race Control. On our next time down the front straight, though, Gallagher sailed off the track with brake lockup, having apparently broken something when we touched.
Only seconds later, the Lotus of Goulart went off ahead of me on the entry to the Left Hander, after apparent contact with the Audi of Holton. He had a hard hit, which totaled the car, and brought out the full course caution. I was now up to 5th.
Between the last restart and the checkered flag, I settled into 5th place, opening up a gap to Filippi behind me, but also losing enough ground to the 4 cars ahead that I couldn't challenge for further improvement to my position.
To have come up to 5th, from an initial qualifying position of 15th, was a hugely gratifying result for us! This was significantly better than our target of simply breaking into the top 10 and the points scored have placed me 4th in the driver's championship at this mid-point of my rookie season. We have a break from now until we race in Rounds 7 & 8 at Utah Motorsports Campus on August 11-13.
After the autograph session, I had the pleasure of joining the FCP Euro owners, employees, and their families at their compound overlooking the Left Hander. Eric had brought the car up on the lawn in that area so that it could be viewed up close and personal. We must have cycled 100 kids through the driver's seat and half that many adults over the next couple hours! It was great to get to meet all the folks from FCP and see so much enthusiasm from everyone; not only for the racing, but for their jobs and the company that they work for. It is a great honor to be associated with such a progressive and passionate company such as FCP Euro.