I shared the practice time in the SprintX sessions with Michael Lewis, but had ample time to get comfortable in the Porsche 991 GT3-R at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It helped me to have driven there in the Porsche GT3 Cup car last year, and to have driven the track in other cars over the past few years on several occasions. The speed, cornering ability, and braking capability of the GT3-R are breathtaking at Laguna Seca, however. The aerodynamic downforce of the car makes it possible to get through high speed turns like Turn 6 and the Rainey Curve at an amazing pace. Braking into the Andretti Hairpin of Turn 2 is done amazingly late, even though it is steeply downhill.
My start in the SprintX race on Saturday was fairly good, as I was able to pass one of the cars ahead of me around Turn 2, even though a Viper sneaked by from behind as well, to leave me even in the running order. I had some back and forth racing with two other GT3-R’s, eventually getting by both of them, to sit in 7th place toward the end of my stint. I was closing on the 6th place car, an Audi R8, at about a second a lap. Just before the driver change time window was about to open, a GTS class Aston Martin spun right in front of me at the exit of high speed Turn 6, after dropping all four wheels off the exit on driver’s right. As the car spun back across the track from right to left, I had just enough room to pass around him to driver’s left, as I remembered from our track walk that there is paving outside the track surface limits on that side. A red flag was called due to track obstruction, and after the stoppage, I was able to pit and hand the car over to Michael Lewis. Michael drove very well, as always, and was able to challenge for 4th place, but had to defend from the well-driven GT3-R of Alec Udell behind him, and wasn’t able to get up to P4. All in all, it was a reasonably satisfying P5 finish.
Michael had a first lap tire puncture during the Saturday GT Sprint race, resulting from accidental car to car contact with another competitor. The overall incident resulted in a full course yellow, and Michael pitted for a replacement tire, rejoining the field on the lead lap, but at the back. He moved forward to finish P11, which was a good result considering the situation.
In Sunday’s SprintX race, Michael Lewis started our car from the pole, having posted the 2nd fastest lap during the Saturday race, with the Saturday race’s fastest car having become disabled in a crash during the Sunday GT sprint race. Michael was able to hold the lead over the first several laps, but had an apparent gearbox failure that halted the car from the lead, and ended our race.
I am very grateful to Michael Lewis, Stefan Pfeiffer, Dave Gahagan and Mark Woodworth for their strong contributions to our team over the period of our association. Thanks also to the owner of Michael’s GT3-R for allowing us to drive the car together in the SprintX races at Utah and Laguna Seca. We have great respect for Michael Lewis’s racing ability, and know he has a bright future in GT racing ahead of him.
Andrew Aquilante and Kurt Rezzetano drove our GTS class Mustang Boss 302 to dominating GTS class wins in both SprintX races on the weekend. They demonstrated the unique ability each brings to the table to build, tune, prepare, and drive a race car at the highest levels of the sport. It was an awe-inspiring performance. Andrew Aquilante drove the Mustang to a strong P2 finish in the last GTS sprint race on Sunday, as well, after dealing during the race with an electrical fault that required him to cycle the main power switch in the car while driving to reset the car’s engine computer. It was terrific to see Kurt and Andrew make such a strong return to the GTS driver ranks.