Rain Provides for Unique Setups for No. 31 Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR
LEXINGTON, Ohio (May 4, 2019) – For racing drivers Jeff Courtney and Fred Roberts, they know working with a new race car could take a learning process as they entered this weekend (May 3-4) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in their debut in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series with the No. 31 Bodymotion/JCR Motorsports/Recstuff.com/Kenda/X-Analytics/Enercare Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR sports car.
And then throw in the always-demanding rain conditions at the tough 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit and Courtney and Roberts were dealing with a machine that could provide an “E” ride at Disney World.
“Fred and I hadn’t driven a Porsche in quite awhile and we had a lot of new elements to deal with this weekend at Mid-Ohio,” said Milwaukee’s Courtney, last year’s GTSA Sprint series champion in the World Challenge tour. “We have been racing the bigger and less sophisticated Maserati for several years in the GTS class and we needed to get up to speed with the new Porsche Cayman GT4. And then add the rain element, and it gets a little dicey at a hard track like Mid-Ohio.”
After qualifying in the rain on Saturday morning, the Bodymotion/JCR Motorsports crew made changes to the No. 31 car’s setup in preparation for a dry track in the Mid-Ohio 120, a two-hour feature for the GT4 and TCR machines.
“I think we took a gamble on the Porsche’s setup,” said Roberts, the Toronto driver. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t what we need for the track conditions. And the rain was difficult too. Overall, we got the car through practice, qualifying and the two-race race and we learned a lot in the past two days. I think everyone learned with the new car and the various conditions. We kept the car on the pavement today and many others did not.”
Courtney opened the two-hour race in the No. 31 Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport MR GT4 machine and moved up in the 37-car field from his 23rd starting position into the top-15 in the first 30 minutes. Unfortunately, a pit stop infraction caused Jeff to come back to the pit for “drive-through” penalty, losing spots he originally passed.
But the Wisconsin veteran continue to slide up the field before turning the driving chores over to Roberts. The track conditions were becoming more difficult with a steady rain hitting the track. The team changed to rain tires and the overall pace of the race slowed as well.
“It was tough to maneuver with the rain,” said Roberts after the race. “Cars were sliding all over, and many were going off the track. I wanted to make sure we kept the car on the racing surface. Late in the race, the track did dry out and we needed to jump to the slicks then. Overall, it was a tough weekend with the new car and the crazy weather changes. But we will move on to the next race now and prepare from this weekend.”
After the event, Courtney mentioned the learning curve between the team members and drivers to coordinate a good, solid unit for the future of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.
“We knew coming into the race weekend that it would not be easy since we were new with the team, the car and the series,” Jeff said. “And you add the weather conditions and bad things can happen in tough situations. We’ll take this learning process from this weekend and analyze everything. Then we’ll have that information to work from as we get ready for the next race.”
At the checkered flag Saturday (May 4) in the Mid-Ohio 120, Courtney and Roberts finished 16th in the Grand Sport division.