The first race of 2018 is officially in the books for the eEuroparts.com Racing team presented by ROWE Motor Oil. The official Fox Sports 1 (FS1) broadcast is schedule for Saturday morning at 8 AM. Set your DVRs to record the race and watch us battle it out with the other Audi and VW teams. We’ll be up early with a hot cup of our favorite coffee. This race had it all, passes, crashes (unfortunately), and some pit-stop mishaps, on our part, to make it an interesting first chapter in Touring Car Racing (TCR) here in the United States. We have an awesome photo gallery done by our pro photog, check it out here to tide you over.
It was our third trip to Daytona in the last two months. The first time was for testing where IMSA set the balance of performance for the cars racing in TCR for the season. Our second trip was a test weekend at the “Roar Before the 24” in early January where we got the eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing car dialed in for the race two weeks later. Finally on January 25th and 26th we actually got to race.
It started off with Lee Carpentier qualifying 4th in a field of 7 cars total. So right in the middle of the pack but really a mere few thousands of a second off the pole. So the top of the field was going to be very competitive throughout the race.
Lee then took the green flag at 12:59 PM on Friday January 26th. The start of the race created an advantage with the three Compass Racing team cars being able to draft their way to a sizable 14-15 second lead over the pack. The first full course caution negated this lead about 40 minutes into the action. At that point the pits opened for TCR for the first pit stop of the season. Our first pit stop went great. Tires went on the car, fuel went in the car, but we had a minor technical violation and we had to serve a drive through penalty at the start of green flag racing a few minutes later.
This penalty put eEuroparts.com Racing and current driver Kieron O’Rourke about half a lap behind the field. Kieron managed to knock a few seconds off the penalty with a solid lap times and then our opportunity opened to catch the field with the second full course yellow of the day. In our pits we were uncertain about a pass around on the pace car. A little gun shy after our first penalty, and not wanting to risk a stop and hold, which would put us even further behind we erred on the side of caution.
In hindsight it was the wrong call but being our first race with a sizable new rule book and almost 2.5 hours remaining in the race it seemed better to bide our time than risk falling further behind on a technicality. Going forward we know the process and certainly won’t allow ourselves to be caught out like this again.
About an hour later we played a pit stop strategy game to try and get our lap back. We held Lee Carpentier out on the track during an open yellow flag pit window. While everybody entered the pits, this put us back at the tail end of the lead lap, but we weren’t able to stay ahead of the field and find another full course caution on our old tires. So it was a risk and it almost paid off but to no avail.
We ended the race a lap behind the top three cars but right on their tail after a few restarts. Overall it was a solid finish for eEuroparts.com Racing a good first step in the 2018 ROWE Motor Oil Stress Test. We’re 7 points behind in the championship chase in a very competitive field. With nine more races to go in our season and a few new cars scheduled to make an appearance in Sebring, anything can happen.
Don’t take my word for it, watch eEuroparts.com Racing at round 1 of the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Saturday 2/10 at 8 AM on your local FS1 Channel, and not just for us. The GS classes had a few intense battles, there were some crazy crashes and nailbiting passes throughout the entire field.
Coming up: Stay tuned for Round 2 of the IMSA Continental Tire Sport Car Challenge on Friday 3/16 at Sebring International Raceway. Special thanks go to all of our motorsports partners!