February 21, 2016 (Las Vegas, NV) – After 3 short weeks following the season opener of the 2016 SCCA US Majors Tour, the GRR Racing team was back at it for Round 3 and 4 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA. This would be the first time there for the team with their Edelbrock E-Force powered Scion FRS. There was no practice on the schedule for the weekend, just a straight shot qualifying and racing session on both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday morning qualifying went well, placing Michele in P3 out of 9 cars, with a 1:32.9 lap time. Crew Chief Anthony Philleo stated, “We just need to stay consistent and hit our marks and we will be running up front”. As the green flag dropped Abbate had a good start, passing two cars in other classes on the lead lap. Coming up to battle for 2nd place the handling of GRR Racing FRS started to fall off exponentially. “The car became progressively worse, but I continued to push with hopes of making to the checkered flag”, Abbate confessed. She dropped back to 4th place and with two laps to go, as she entered turn 8 the front left tire let go, causing Abbate to retire early.
After replacing the flat and looking over the car it because obvious that one of the rear endlinks broke – forcing the car to lose its desired set up. The team worked through the night to repair it, and have it ready for Sunday’s race.
Michele’s lap times earned her the P3 spot again on Sunday’s afternoon race. With the wave of the green, Abbate rocketed forward passing 3 other classed cars on the inside before entering turn one. With a promising start, it appeared that this would be the turnaround for the weekend. Unfortunately, about a third of the way into the race, the FRS’ handling start to fall off once again. Understeering terribly through the right handers, Abbate struggled to maintain consistent, fast lap times. Taking precautions she nursed the car to a 4th place finish once the checkered was thrown.
It was a struggling weekend, but the GRR Racing team is taking the learnings from it to prepare the car during this 6 week break until Rounds 5 and 6 at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA on April 8th-10th. Special thanks to Advanced Clutch Technology (www.AdvancedClutch.com) for their on-site support throughout the event weekend. As well as Sgt. Jason Philleo, Judi Abbate, Debbie Philleo, Jean Ward, Bobbie and Pete Lopez!