We started the weekend off with two freshly built cars knowing that our general set ups were close but would need to be adjusted according to the track conditions at COTA. Having driven the car twice prior, I was confident we could expect great performance coupled with excellent power. After some testing in the early morning practices, the team knew that these cars were very capable! With only some minor changes on the set up of my car, we finished up the day with more knowledge and speed than we’d started out with. In qualifying the next morning, I put down three laps and managed to grasp the fourth starting position by two tenths of a second.
On race day, I was as fast as the other top drivers and had many clean battles but it soon became apparent that our Stoptech brakes, which stop phenomenally at the right temperature, were overheating in traffic. I managed to hold on to a 7th place finish but couldn’t advance due to lacking brake performance.
For the second race, I was supposed to start 6th but after some last minute grid changes that weren’t fully understood, I started 8th. During the beginning of the race, the brakes performed exceptionally but, as the brakes heated up, they soon reverted back to their previous problems. I held onto my position for most of the duration of the race but, due to the braking issues, my Accord just couldn’t stop as good as the MX5’s could lap after lap. My original 8th place finish was changed to 7th place due to another car’s tech issues. Overall, two Top 10’s for the first race weekend is amazing considering we’d had very limited seat time in the car before the race. The team knows where the issues lie and are already making adjustments for next time. I am extremely happy with the crew from Shea Racing who built me an extraordinary machine in just 45 days. Their professionalism on and off the track coupled with mechanical expertise has me excited about the future of this 2016 Pirelli World Challenge race season.