P.J. Groenke: COTA Recap
New Pirelli World Challenge Championships season, new team, new car. With great hopes for success P.J. Groenke Racing made a major move during the off season signing with Tech Sport Racing to drive their 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Championships Touring Class B Championship winning Chevrolet Sonic.
The 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championships season began at the amazing Formula 1, 3.4 mile, 20-turn, world renowned Circuit of the Americas (COTA) located in Austin, TX from March 3rd to 6th and P.J. Groenke Racing had our most successful start to a PWC season to date thanks to the Tech Sport Racing team and crew. The Verax.ca,
Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food made its debut on Friday, March 3rd for the official PWC Practice Session. Having never driven the car before I took my time to acclimate myself to the nuances of the car and posted the 7th fastest lap time. Qualifying and Round 1 of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championships season did not go as planned due to a miss-judged tire selection on my part, posting the 8th fastest lap time in Qualifying and struggling through the race with an extremely loose race car to finish Round 1 in 7th place. The good thing is that we knew what the issue was and it could be easily corrected.
Round 2 of the 2016 PWC season was a different story. Starting from 7th place with a standing start, which I love and is such an amazing and integral part of PWC racing, I managed to get a great launch off the line moving the Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food into 3rd place through Corner 1. Thanks to a great push from Will Rodgers in the Mazda 2 up the front straight on the second lap I was able to move the Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food up to 1st place through Corner 1 and lead the field for a few laps. I can’t tell you enough how great it was to be up front leading a PWC race again, it’s been a long time coming…The racing was great from there swapping positions from 1st to 3rd, back to 1st, to 2nd to 1st and then to 3rd. My hopes were that I could hook up with a fellow TCB competitor and break away from the field but it did not work out that way.
Traffic in multi-class racing can either help you or hurt you, and in this case it hurt me as we caught a slower TC car while I was in 3rd place heading into Corner 20. The TC car broke so early that I nudged him under braking sending him wide and off track allowing the 4th place TCB car to get alongside me as I exited Corner 20. Blindly coming back on track the TC competitor effectively sandwiched me in-between himself and the now 3rd place TCB car. With plastic parts flying the Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food dropped back to 6th place. Working with teammate Michael Johnson in the #24 Tech sport Racing Chevy Sonic I managed to get back up to 5th place in the closing laps and cross the finish line with our first top 5 finish of the season.
Overall this was P.J. Groenke Racing’s most successful start to a Pirelli World Challenge Championships season and it would not have been possible without my amazing sponsors and the entire team and crew at Tech Sport Racing. The Verax.ca, Tundra, Clorox Pool&Spa Chevy Sonic presented by Cabano’s Comfort Food is an awesome car and I cannot wait for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2016 Pirelli World
Challenge Championships to get underway at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Mosport) from May 19th to 22nd!
P.J. Groenke Racing
About P.J. Groenke
P.J. Groenke has been racing professionally in Canada since 2001 and across North America since 2013. Highlights of Groenke’s racing career include winning the 52nd Annual Indian Summer Trophy, finishing as a semi-finalist on Discovery Channel Canada’s Star Racer in 2006, and sweeping the Canadian Touring Car Championship races at the Vortex Brake Pads 200 race weekend with back-to-back victories in 2011. Most recently, Groenke finished 6th in the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec Championship with one top five finish,15 top ten finishes, and an Invisible Glass “Clean Pass” of the race award.
P.J. Groenke is sponsored by Verax.ca, Tundra Technical Solutions, Clorox Pool&Spa, Cabano’s Comfort Food, Clairhaven Ltd., Martinrea International Inc., Pelto Agri Investments, Ro-Ro Property Management Corp., and Warp Speed Computers Inc. Other sponsors include ARS Access Restoration Services, Affinity Luxury Car Rentals, Alpha Laboratories Inc., Amsterdam Brewery, Desson Manufacturing Ltd., Diplomat Trucking Ltd., Eventscape Inc., Payne Capital Corp. & Hawthorn Equity Partners, and Proprint Services Inc. For more information, please visit www.pjgroenkeracing.com.