Calvert-Jones and PC Tools Porsche Show Plenty of Speed, Not Much Luck in Monterey
Fourth Place in Race #2 of Laguna Seca IMSA GT3 Challenge Doubleheader
David Calvert-Jones had a lot of confidence heading into last weekend's IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in support of the American Le Mans Monterey presented by Patron.
That confidence was rewarded with extremely quick times in practice and qualifying in the No. 12 PC Tools Porsche. At the end of the weekend, however, CJ had to use the term uttered by racers so many times over the years when things don't go as well as one would like on the racetrack.
"That's racing," said CJ after a DNF (Did Not Finish) in Race #1 and a fourth-place Gold Cup class result in Race #2 after being spun out of second in the final turn on the final lap.
Having competed previously in other events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, CJ had a good handle on the racetrack, as evidenced by the fact that he was quickest in class in Thursday's opening practice of the weekend and clocked the third-best time in the day's second practice.
He qualified the No. 12 PC Tools machine third for Race #1 and ran the first half of the 45-minute race well within sight of at least a podium result. Unfortunately, disaster struck on Lap 15 as he attempted to make his way around a slower, Platinum Cup car.
"The first race was a difficult one; I made a mistake overtaking a Platinum car," explained CJ, who wound up 10th in the final class standings. "I got a good run out of [Turn] 6 and I went to take him in the Corkscrew, but I just got a little too far on the inside and couldn't pull the car out, so I gave him a little love tap, which damaged the radiator, and that put me out. I was coming third then, right behind Melanie [Snow, who went on to finish second behind Angel Benitez Jr.]."
CJ started fourth in the Gold class for Race #2 owing to the fact that he posted the fourth quickest Gold time in Race #1. He once again quickly worked his way up into podium contention before a full-course caution late in the race shuffled the deck.
"I started fourth and got up to third, and I was a couple seconds behind Melanie, just pacing myself," CJ described. "Then we had a double yellow for a couple incidents around the track, so the pace car came out. With a few seconds left on the clock, they went green. It was one last lap under green, which just caused total chaos. The field was all bunched up and jockeying for position.
"Benitez, who was coming second, was taken out, and so I was coming second, a couple of cars behind Melanie [the eventual race winner]. I got into Turn 11, the last turn coming onto the main straight for the finish, and a lapped Gold car that locked it up and went sideways going into the turn took me out. It ended up spinning me around. I got the car going again and got in for fourth, but it was very frustrating."
Despite the disappointing results, CJ came away from the weekend knowing he had a strong racecar throughout. He was also pleased with the opportunity to entertain a number of special guests from PC Tools, which has a base of operations in nearby Silicon Valley.
"At least I got some points in the second race," CJ said. "The cars all ran really well, everyone on the whole team. [Competition Motorsports owner] Bob [Faieta] had all the cars just running perfectly. We ran them pretty hard all weekend. We did one little setup change after the promoter test day, which I think got us hooked up a little more, and it all ran really well. A couple seconds here or a couple seconds there of misjudgment or someone making a bad move and, bang, your weekend's gone out the window.
"It was good to be able to show the guys at PC Tools around the car and how the car works and the racing works. We got them up on the hill and they were on the radios listening to our communication during the race and they hung out in the pits for a while and got amongst us. I think they went away really happy with the day and seeing the car up there and getting really excited when it was in second place for a while. It was a worthwhile experience for them."
CJ was also pleased with the performance of Competition Motorsports in the six-hour ALMS race on Saturday afternoon. Co-drivers Faieta, Michael Avenatti and Cort Wagner placed third in the GTC class sharing the No. 24 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Next up for CJ will be the IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama doubleheader at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport International Raceway). The pair of races will once again run in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series event weekend on July 20-22.