This past weekend was the Pacific Coast Road Racing Championships and it was held at Auto Club Speedway. The GRR Racing team decided this would be a great follow up race to end the season with, because it would act as an opportunity to showcase a new benchmark for the progress of the 2015 season; since the first race of the year was held at Auto Club as well.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t ideal and made it impossible for everyone to have a shot at their best laps. It was overcast, humid, and the air was dense, although, the temperature was a high of 80 degrees – which was pleasant. On Saturday, Michele qualified P2 and was gridded P6 overall. The team decided to remove the rear wing and use their Driveway Labs diffuser to see if it was a better option. In STU, the rules state you can run or the other, but not both. “The car felt very unpredictable through the oval. It was floating and very twitchy, not a very reassuring feels at over 120+ mph”, stated Michele. Crew Cheif Anthony said, “This is our first time trying the diffuser on its own, and we are taking our chances in learning how to adjust the chassis accordingly”. To compensate for the new rear weight from the Fuel Safe Racing Cell in the rear, the team soften the dampening. Commited to keeping to diffuser on, the team decided to make a run to home deport to cover the giant gaping hole in the center of the chassis where the OEM tank used to sit. Racing the clock to get the repairs finished, Michele found herself about 1 minute late to grid, resulting in starting dead last, 28th place, for the qualifying race on Saturday. As Michele made her way around for the out lap, she noticed her hood wasn’t latched, forcing her to come to the hot pits as the feild took the green. Anthony quickly latched the hood and Abbate continued on the lead lap, trailing the tail of the pack.
Working her way through the entire feild as quickly as possible, Michele finished the 20 minute sprint race in 2nd place for STU.
“It wasn’t the greatest way to start the race, but I was thankful to at least be let out on the lead lap after scrambling in the pits for the last minute changes”, Michele admitted. Abbate was able to hold her P2 grid spot, 8th overall in the field, and was ready to take the green on Sunday.
Abbate had a great start, passing a few cars on the high line, she charged her way towards the front. About 5 laps in Michele radio’d in that the car was understeering bad in the left hand turns and that she could hear a noise from the right side. As the handling worsened Michele did her best to maintain her speed and keep on pace, but the car understeer a tad too much, hitting a large pot hole at the end of an outside rumble strip, which knocked the right front suspension off. Struggling with alignment issues, as well as some inconsistent braking issues, Abbate continued on. Not able to hold off 3rd place, Michele brought the FRS into the pits for a safety look at the rear – everything looked okay.
She headed back out, still ahead of 4th place, although her pace was well off the race pace. Still hearing an unfamiliar noise, and with the poor alignment, the team decided to make a 2nd pit stop for another look. “The front right brake duct had been worn apart from tire rub, and the wiring wrapped around the wheel hub so tightly, it impaired Michele’s steering angle, in addition to the alignment issue”, Anthony stated.
Limping the car through the rest of the race, Abbate managed to hold on to the 3rd place finish for the Championship race. “This definitely wasn’t how we wanted our weekend to go, but after seeing the horrific tire wear and considering the condition, I’m thankful we were able to take the checkered”, Michele told the team. Anthony followed up, “We placed 2nd overall for the Southern Pacific Cal Club Division for 2015 and 3rd for the Pacific Road Racing Championship; a great way to round out our 2015 Majors Tour Championship win. We look forward to what 2016 has to bring”!
The team plans to adjust the chassis as needed, and do some testing to prepare for the 2016 season. Keep up with Michele and her events by following her on