From The Drivers Seat

Round 1 - Sebring
Bonaccorsi Racing began the 2003 SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship season with a new team, OPM Motorsports. The teamwork at the Sebring opener with OPM owner, Tom Fowler, and my teammate Chuck Hemmingson was outstanding.

OPM hired a new crew chief, J.D., and together we set the Mazda Protege up to meet my driving requirements. Chuck and Tom already had the springs set up similar to what I like, so the transition to the number 18 car was easy. I have to say it was the best handling car I've had at Sebring. I could keep the throttle wide open through, and out of the corners.

The first event of the season did not go without some challenges - a fuel pick-up problem plagued us throughout the week. The crew chased the fuel issues in the paddock, and on the track I concentrated on car balance, knowing the experienced OPM team would resolve the fuel issue. For qualifying day, the balance and power came together for a fifth place qualifying - a three second improvement from the practice sessions. A great start for our first race together.

On race day, we were confident that we had a podium car. Unfortunately, the fuel issue came back on the second lap. I adjusted my driving style and drove around it since we had practiced with the issue all week. Even with mechanical problems, I was able to pull away from the sixth place car, and we maintained our fifth place position for the best possible result, a top-five finish for the season opener.

I enjoyed racing with Chuck and the OPM crew. My fifth place finish in a new car with a new team was the result of good teamwork and communication. We can only improve, and podiums would be a realistic expectation with this team. Bonaccorsi Racing and OPM are trying very hard to put a full Touring race season together. Corporate teaming and support will make it possible for OPM and I to pursue winning results in 2003.