P.J. Groenke Racing and team completed the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season at the world-renowned and truly amazing 11 turn, 2.238 mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) located in Salinas, CA. Racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the very first time as part of the Pirelli World Challenge Mazda Raceway Grand Prix presented by Cadillac was a truly amazing but daunting experience as MRLS is a highly technical and high speed road racing circuit.
Set to take to the MRLS road course in the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper for the very first time for the Test Session, P.J. Groenke Racing received unexpected and unfortunate news from Crew Chief Sean Asselin late Wednesday night that the water pump pulley and belt tensioner had sustained damage at the previous race weekend, required replacement, and we did not have the parts. Change of plans and P.J. Groenke Racing headed out to the closest MINI dealer located in San Jose early Thursday morning with fingers crossed and hopes that the required parts were in stock. Luckily and thankfully MINI of Stevens Creek had the parts and P.J. Groenke Racing headed back South to Salinas, CA and MRLS with parts in hand for Crew Chief Sean Asselin to repair the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper. Repairs completed, P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper headed out onto Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Pirelli World Challenge Official Practice Session. 40 minutes short on track time due to missing the Test Session and learning a new, extremely technical and challenging MRLS road course, P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper set the 15th fastest lap time out of 16 competitors, a full 3.23 seconds off the fastest lap time of the session.
The Qualifying Session took place on Friday and P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper made significant strides setting a lap time of 1:55.732, 3.129 seconds faster than our fastest practice lap time qualifying in 11th place. While not optimal results and definitely not the starting position that P.J. Groenke Racing and team have been accustomed to, we love a challenge and never back down. Round 16 took place later that day beginning with a rolling start and P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper crossed the finish line in 8th place, a mere 0.137 seconds away from 7th place.
Round 17 took place on Saturday and P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper once again had our work cut out for us with a 10th place starting position. As the 40 minute race progressed the handling of the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper became looser and looser oversteering through corner after corner making the race very exciting and a challenge to keep to the track. “Loose is fast”, but the handling of the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper was on the extreme end of loose relegating P.J. Groenke Racing to an 11th place finish as we crossed the finish line.
Round 18 and the final race of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge Championships took place bright and early on Sunday. P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper lined up in
14th place on the starting grid determined to complete the season on the best note possible. Battling back and forth, passing one competitor and then another, P.J. Groenke Racing and the Verax.ca, Tundra, Mulligan Gold MINI Cooper greeted the checkered flag for the final time in the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season in 10th place with a personal best lap time of 1:54.831 and only 1.543 seconds from the best lap time of the race.
P.J. Groenke Racing completed our third full season of competition in the Pirelli World Challenge Series finishing
6th place out of 29 competitors in the Touring Class B Championship with one top five, 15 top 10 finishes, and an “Invisible Glass” Clean Pass of the Race Award. This was by far P.J. Groenke Racing’s most difficult and frustrating season of competition in Pirelli World Challenge, but we fought through the adversity to equal our Pirelli World Challenge Series Championships Touring Class B-Spec finishing position from the previous two seasons.
P.J. Groenke Racing and team are set for the off-season and already hard at work planning for the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Championships.
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 2014 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car B-Spec Championship with three top five finishes including one podium, 13 top ten finishes, one Optima Batteries “Best Standing Start” award, two Sunoco “Hard Charger” awards, and captured his very first Pirelli World Challenge Pole Position at Road America.
P.J. Groenke is sponsored by Verax.ca, Tundra Technical Solutions, Mulligan Gold, Clairhaven Ltd., Clorox Pool&Spa, Martinrea International Inc., Pelto Agri Investments, and Warp Speed Computers Inc. Other sponsors include ARS Access Restoration Services, Affinity Luxury Car Rentals, Alpha Laboratories Inc., Amsterdam Brewery, Confident Paintless Dent Removal, Diplomat Trucking Ltd., Eventscape Inc., Payne Capital Corp. & Hawthorn Equity Partners, Proprint Services Inc., Ro-Ro Property Management Corp., and 4XM.ca/4Print.ca. For more information, please visit www.pjgroenkeracing.com.