MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships Presented by Motul, Round 5&6 Coverage plus 7&8 Preview
With the final race weekend of the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship presented by Motul coming up quickly in less than 2 we are due for a much needed recap and what the teams have been busy working on in preparation for the final round of the season. Let's take a closer look at the last race weekend which ultimately shaped the close championship points chase.
Round 5 and 6 took place at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in 100+ degree ambient and in the much less common counter clock wise #1 configuration. Being the longest course setup with the most turns possible for Buttonwillow, getting acclimated to the track was critical for proper tire management come race time. The high temperatures were also a big factor for both track surface grip and the cooling systems for the competitors' cars.
Warm up and qualifying went well for Justin Taylor in the Rockstar Garage S2000. No issues with the car and a quick over all pace despite Justin's lack of preference for Buttonwillow Raceway Park and especially in the less frequently ran configuration #1 counter clockwise. Regardless he was able to put down a lap time of 2.09:373 resulting in pole position.
I myself was not far behind pace wise which was a relief after the out of class car contact at the AutoClub Speedway race
. Handling dynamics didn't seem off by any means which resulted in a 2.10:924 lap time for 2nd in qualifying.
It had been quiet a while since Martin Gonzales' last time at Buttonwillow Raceway Park and an even longer time since running CCW #1. Project G20 also had an odd handling issue being that it was composed on turn-in for lefts, but sloppy with high amounts of understeer and tire scrub on rights. Which could also be attributed to out of class contact at Autoclub Speedway with a Spec E30. The suspension setting issues reflected in Martin's pace for qualifying time of 2.28:6.
The race start had Justin and I close in proximity despite handling most of the corners in varying styles. My plan was to follow close to get an idea as to how Justin would negotiate the turns. Seemed like a sounds strategy, until…
During the first 3 race laps I noticed Project EF's water temperature rose quicker than in past races. At first I thought it was just the high 100 degree heat. The car would stabilize eventually at a decent, even though higher then usual, operating temperature. But as the laps went on the water temperature kept climbing higher, resulting in finding limp-mode at 220 degrees. This kept me from revving past 5200rpm, essentially turning my potent JDM ITR B18C engine into a D15 power wise.
With catching Justin out of the question under limp mode power, my next challenge was maintaining my position of 2nd place in front of Martin. From the race start, I was able to put a large gap on 3rd. But now with maybe 100whp at best, and Project G20 having the most torque in the field, it was an interesting challenge to maintain my position. It turned into a game of driving a stock powered EF with minimal braking and high entry speeds. This strategy barely worked to keep me in 2nd till the end.
Justin ran away with 1st place uncontested. The level of reliability over the years of racing the Rockstar Garage S2000 in MPTCC shined bright this race despite the terrible conditions.