posted on October 22, 2013 14:01
MPTCC Round 4: Buttonwillow 2013 Season Finale
by Martin Gonzales
After six hard fought races the teams of the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship presented by Motul entered the final race weekend of the season with a couple of season championship positions up for grabs. As in any form of motorsport, season championships depend on more than just fast lap times. They require experience, consistency, reliability, strategy...and a little bit of good luck.
Only 14 points separated Edik Stepanyan in the M-Factory DA Integra and Justin Taylor in the Rockstar Garage/Buddy Club S2000 for the top position in the Tuner Under class, but that wasn't the only battle brewing. Right behind Edik and Justin were Michele Abbate in the Scion Racing/Dynamic Autosports tC and Steve Rockwood in the MotoIQ Project Infiniti G20 which were in their own battle with only two points separating them for the third position of the 2013 season.
Some of our guys (especially the MotoIQ crew) just aren't morning people. With an 8:00am tee time for our race group's first practice session, it was inevitable that a couple of them would decide to sleep-in and leave an almost wide open practice session for Edik.
Would Edik's FWD Integra be able to hold off the ever improving Justin, or would Justin's S2000 find the speed necessary to spoil Edik's championship hopes? The stage was set for an exciting weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway. This would be the first time the MPTCC visited Buttonwillow since the end of the 2012 season, and this time the amazing team at NASA would be throwing in a special twist. The usual configuration everyone has become accustomed to driving or that time attack records are set on is CW13, but this weekend the MPTCC would be racing it backwards! Yes, it's still the same track and all the turns are the same, but driving a track in a completely different direction is just not that simple. Entry speeds, turn in points and braking points are all different. These changes are that much more significant when you take into consideration that the MPTCC drivers are dealing with more than just track conditions, they also need to navigate through race traffic! This is where the experience of racer's like TU points leader Edik Stepanyan can be a significant advantage.
Project G20 clocked a 2:06.532 its first time out on Buttonwillow CCW13 Saturday morning. We were content with the time especially considering we still had not set the optimum tire pressures on our Toyo Proxes RRs
Edik didn't spend too much time out during practice and seemed to not be pushing it as hard as he could, as his best lap time during Saturday's practice session was 2:07.028.
Ambient and on-track temps on Saturday morning were quite cool. Not ideal for dialling in the optimum race settings, but it did allow the drivers some much needed open track time to get acquainted with Buttonwillow's CCW13 configuration.