Abbate finishes 2nd in SCCA STU in the SCCA US Majors Tour in the Western Conference series. Photo by: Richard Pochop

April 11th and 12th marked the 3rd round of the SCCA US Majors Tour and was held at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA.  For the weekend the 2.8 mile layout was ran, including the tricky “cyclone” corner.  Michele previously ran the 5 mile course at Thunderhill last November for the United States Touring Car series, but had never had the opportunity to go up the cyclone hill.

With that being said, confidence was still present, as Michele finished fairly well in the season ender in 2014.   Unfortunately, the SCCA schedule did not include any practice sessions, causing Abbate to have to use the first and only qualifying session to lay down a fast time.  During the session, she struggled with the line through the cyclone, “it is impossible to see as you crest the hill – I had no idea where the other side of the hill was”, Abbate stated, knowing she had been off pace.  As the session continued her times dropped but she received a meatball flag as the session was nearing the end.  As she pulled to the designated pit box, she was informed the car was one decibel over the track limit and her times were disallowed.

After some conversation with the SCCA scrutineers and officials, Abbate’s time was reinstated, but the team faced the issue of altering the exhaust to be legal for the race.  Crew Chief Anthony Philleo fabbed up a custom made silencer for the exhaust and the team was confident this would do the trick.  Abbate was also informed where the sound booth was located, therefore, knowing where to lift.

During the race Abbate held on to her 2nd place starting position while also lifting in the backside of the track – causing slower lap times.  This was the best strategy to play it safe, although, once in impound, the team was notified that the car was  still a questionable decibel reading.

Abbate racing in the SCCA US Major Tours Western Conference Series at Thunderhill Raceway. Photo by: Richard Pochop

The quick silencer mock up had totally disappeared at some point during the race, allowing the car to read its normal decibel reading again.  With that being said Anthony stated, “we need to get a more permanent solution for the exhaust, to allow Michele to drive to her full potential, not having to lift”.  Together, with the help from a spec miata racer and a couple quick tack welds from the local welder, a turn out pipe was fabbed for Sunday’s race.

Last minute turn out pipe was made to reduce the exhaust decibels. Photo by: Richard Pochop

Knowing this solution would definitely do the trick, the team was feeling much more confident about bringing down the lap times by the end of the weekend.  Abbate started the race 2nd in STU and continuously got faster as the race went on.  She ended up improving Saturday’s best time of a 2:16.0 (due to lifting) to a flying 2:09.8 on the last lap of the race!  Working with her spotter, Abbate was able to shave tenths off her time as the race went on, and secured another 2nd place finish for the weekend.

This added 42 more points for the season, which solidifies the 2nd place position until the next race, which will be at Buttonwillow on May 1-3.  Chipping away at the championship Abbate states, “I’m really gunning for that top spot.  Consistency wins races, and we have had some great finishes, if we can keep it up and finish strong in these last couple events I really feel like capturing the championship is possible”.  Anthony agrees, “We plan to keep pushing forward with our Scion FR-S and continue to prove that this chassis is capable  and competitive in the SCCA US Majors Tour series”.

You can catch the team making their 2015 debut in the US Touring Car series at the season opener on April 18th at Buttonwillow Raceway for the 2 hour endurance race.  As always, many thanks to all of our sponsors and Dark Horse Pros contributors who have helped get us on the podium yet again!

Abbate double apexing the corner onto the front straight. Photo by: Richard Pochop

Special “thanks” go to Richard Pochop for taking some amazing photos during the weekend.  You can find out more about Richard Pochop Photography at:

Also!  Michele will be making a major announcement today at 12:00pm PST. Come see what’s new then!

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