MPTCC Round 3: Auto Club Speedway 2


Slow traffic
Dealing with slower cars is the challenge of multi-class racing. It's also the biggest pain in the rear if you're trying to defend a hard fought lead.

The MPTCC field always starts ahead of the other NASA classes in order to space the different classes out to ensure a clean start.  Though this keeps the beginning of the races relatively clean and traffic free, by the middle end of the race the MPTCC racers always find themselves negotiating through slower traffic.  This may be frustrating for some, but it is also a test in traffic management which is a very important element of wheel to wheel racing. 

In Race #6 the streak of bad luck for Michele Abbate's Scion tC continued.  Right before the start of the race the Dynamic Autosport team found that the turbo downpipe of the tC broke.  The team tried to do everything they could do to get the car out to the starting line, and they did.  Unfortunately what they did not realize was that during the failure the downpipe was resting and putting pressure on the turbo's oil return line – which eventually led to it coming off and finishing Michele's day after lap 3.


Michele smoking heavy

Prior to her lap 3 retirement, Michele's car was pouring out heavy smoke under acceleration. The blue tint indicated and confirmed it was oil smoke.

Fading brakes makes for offcourse

Fading brakes and tires that were starting to give up caused Edo to go off course at Turn 9 in the middle of a heated battle for second between him and Justin.

The race for the championship would change at lap five, when Edik Stepanyan in the M-Factory Integra started experiencing severe brake fade.  It was very clear that both S2000s had a significant advantage in the breaking zone after the long straightaway entering the 90 degree turn into the infield.  Justin Taylor would charge Edik on the inside going into the infield road course and was able to complete the pass on Stepanyan.  It would appear that the combination of old tires and fading brakes would only allow Stepanyan to hold onto third place for the rest of the race.


Andrie's front splitter is broke

A missing front splitter will definitely wont do any good for one's downforce!

With Edik out of the way, Justin began chipping away at Hartanto’s lead. This was helped by Andrie’s splitter failing at lap 7 and causing severe understeer. By lap 12 Justin had cut the lead down to just one car length and was even able to briefly take the lead mid-way through the inner road course!  An exciting moment for the Rockstar Garage S2000, since he was giving the business to one of the best in the business – Andrie Hartanto.

At the back of the pack more mechanical failures were rearing their ugly heads as the APM Racing Scion FR-S of Richie Ho pulled off the bank and into the garage after a puff of white smoke poured out of the back of the newly boosted FR-S.  Their day would be done with a blown engine, but these are the growing pains all teams go through when dealing with a brand new and undeveloped platform.  Be sure to keep an eye on these guys, as we are sure they will be back stronger than ever and ready to take the FR-S to its rightful place on the podium. 


Justin going for the lead

Project G20’s brake problems got worse, but with two early retirements in the race Steve would secure a 4th place if he could finish the race.  The earlier “squishy brake pedal” issue was due to air in the system, but the solution was not bleeding the brakes.  The problem was a faulty caliper seal!. By the end of the race, brake fluid had coated the front driver side brake caliper which caused a disconcerting cloud of smoke towards the end of the race.  Expect that to be fixed for the final round at Buttonwillow Raceway as the G20 will be try to end its 2013 season strong with a dual podium finish!.

Project G20 locking up the right rear

Project G20 locking up the right rear entering turn 9!

The race was beginning to wind down, but Justin and Andrie were still battling hard with each other. Coming out of turn 1-2 of the big oval Justin made his move on Andrie and pulled beside him. It wouldn’t matter who made it to the finish first, this was going to be the closest race in MPTCC history! How close? Well, with momentum on his side, Andrie Hartanto in the Prima Racing Honda S2000 was able to hold off the Rockstar Garage / Buddy Club Honda S2000 of Justin Taylor by just .149 second. This means the overall winner of Auto Club Speedway and Round 3 of the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championships presented by Motul would be Andrie Hartanto with two wins and two pole positions.


Race #6 Aftermath

After the podium ceremony for Race 6 of the MPTCC, Edik Stepanyan, Justin Taylor, and NASA SoCal Regional Director and NASA National Chairman, Ryan Flaherty, had a discussion about what had happened between Edik Stepanyan and Justin Taylor to allow Taylor to pass Edik. From how Edik described it, and what Justin had admitted to, was that Justin had overshot the entrance into the inner road course at Turn 3. This caused Edik to have to brake hard enough to flat spot his front tires and drive off track in order to avoid contact, while Justin gained a place.

Edo after race 6

Edo wasn't happy with how the pass by Justin went down, so he called a meeting with NASA, Justin, and himself.

Ryan Flaherty

Ryan pointed out that In the “spirit” of good sportsmanship a gentlemen racer should have given back the position. But technically the rules are on Justin's side and he didn't’t have to unless contact was made. It never got heated as it was mostly a lesson for Justin and Edo both.

Because there was no contact between the two drivers there was no penalty against Justin and he retains his second place scoring. Edik, however, still retains a great margin in the points lead but rumor has it that Andrie plans to attend Buttonwillow and we remember how that went in the Prima Racing Acura TSX the last time he raced in the MPTCC there. Can’t recall it? Here’s a hint, read this story again.

Podium for the MPTCC

Your Podium for the MPTCC Race 6: Andrie Hartanto, Justin Taylor, and Edik Stepanyan!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *