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.
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.
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
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
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.