Michele Abbate takes the championship for the 2015 SCCA US Majors Tour Western Conference Division

Michele Abbate Crowned 2015 SCCA US Majors Tour Champion!

Fourth of July weekend marked the final rounds 9 and 10 of the SCCA US Majors Tour Championship series for the 2015 Western Conference Division.  The rounds were held at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.  “Originally we did not plan to attend this event because of travel expenses, but after our consistent finishes, lead in national points, and help from our sponsors it was a truly a team effort that made it happen”, said Crew Chief Anthony Philleo.  With support from Nameless Performance, based out of Woodland, WA and additional financial support from Toyota of Olympia, our Scion FR-S made its final appearance for the SCCA season ender.

Abbate, who has never raced at the PIR track, was faced with some new challenges, as the schedule did not have any practice sessions.  Friday July 3rd offered two qualifying sessions for the race grid. With these two session Michele was on the pole for the start of Saturday’s 30 minute race.  “We have been facing some issues with our coolant and oil temps, but with additional support from Mishimoto we are hoping the car will stay cool enough to fight hard during our [Saturday] race tomorrow”, Michele stated.

Abbate and Keenan at Portland International Raceway

As the large race group took the green flag, Michele faced one of the toughest starts she has ever encountered.  “I’ve never seen so many cars make contact into turn 1”, she stated.  Abbate was able to steer clear but found herself in 3rd coming out of turn 2.  Abbate felt the car was lacking power, but wasn’t certain because nothing seemed to be abnormal.  Keeping consistent with her lap times, and focusing on learning the track, she was able to come across the checkered in 2nd place, even though the engine was getting hot.  The team worked with what they had, and installed a new radiator shroud and fan provided by CounterSpace Garage with hopes of running cooler temperatures for Sunday’s race.  In addition, with help from Bill at Delicious Tuning, they also ran some data logging and discovered the cams were not working properly, and were only getting about 1 -1.5 degrees of timing.  Anthony stated, “Thanks to immediate support from Delicious Tuning, even on a holiday weekend, we were able to fix this issue quickly with our ECUTek products – we’re excited to get on track for tomorrow’s race”.

Feeling much more confident, Michele took the flag in 3rd place and quickly worked her way up to 2nd.  The track temperatures were a little bit cooler, but as she pushed on, the temps began to rise.  Abbate was knocking on the door of 1st place, even pushing him down the front straight, again, but as they entered the back-straight and pulling to take the lead, she decided to back out of it after watching the coolant reach temperatures of over 260 degrees.  “It is absolutely heartbreaking to be in the midst of taking the lead of your last race, and having to let off because of temperature issues,” Michele stated.  As she lightened up on the throttle and helped the car breathe at a lower RPM, the gap widened, but she stayed consistent and actually was running similar lap times to the leaders.  “Michele was over two seconds faster than both 1st and 2nd place when she could push the car, but with her consistent lap times she still maintained to stay in the proximity of the leaders, even when cooling the motor down,” Anthony stated.  As Abbate entered the last turn on the bumper of 2nd place to take the white flag, the 2nd place #11 car lost control, Abbate reacted and the rear end came out on her.  Saving the car from a spin, but losing a lot of ground, her strategy to run them down on the last lap was gone.  “I was excited to find myself back in the race for the last lap, even after running about half the race at a “slow” pace to cool the car.  I don’t think there is anything more frustrating than having the fastest car, with the fastest lap times, and then having to back out of it; but these are the decisions you have to make, even when your heart is telling you to go.  What a tough experience, but a great one to learn from”, Michele said with pride.  “Anthony worked very hard this weekend and put more work in than any other weekend this year.  We changed everything we could to have the best improvements but the weather was against us.  I am so proud of what we have done this year.  We won the championship with consistent finishes and a positive attitude.  A huge thank you to all that helped get us here.  I can’t wait for next year”.  Crew chief Anthony said, “This was a very exciting season for our team and we have learned so much about this motor and chassis.  We look forward to testing and improvements this off season to defend our championship title”.

Michele Abbate racing her scion FRS at Portland International Raceway

A sincere thank you to all of our partners that have made this team achieve this title.  Without your support we would not be here.  Special “Thank you” to all those who contributed and were a part of the Dark Horse Pros campaign that fueled the finances of running this series, without you we would have never had had the opportunity to give it a shot.  Looking forward to announce the remaining events of our 2015 season.

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