06 Sep Event Preview: Laguna Seca
Having chosen to skip the previous round of the 2018 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, Winward/HTP Motorsport will return for Round Nine of the Championship this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
With both cars enduring significant punishment during the grueling stretch of races through the Summer, it was decided to miss the trip to Virginia so that the cars could get a comprehensive overhaul prior to the last two events of the season.
The eleven turn 2.238 mile track on the Monterey Peninsula has produced both highs and lows for the Houston based team in the last 12 months. Bryce Ward clinched the Diamond Masters Class of the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA there in 2017 while the #33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche Cayman of Damien Faulkner and Russell Ward led last season’s four hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge event before a loose wire on the steering column activated the car’s pit lane speed limiter as the duo led the race with less than 20 minutes to go.
“Laguna is my favorite track in the US,” declared Damien Faulkner, drive of the #33 Techemet AMG GT4. “I have raced there many times and just can’t get enough of it. From a driver’s perspective it has fast turns, slow ones, lots of undulation and then just to challenge us properly, a very low grip surface. After coming so close last season we’re eager to knock it out of the park this weekend”.
Faulkner’s partner in the Techemet Mercedes, Russell Ward, has a solid history at the undulating Northern California track. “I won my first ever race at Laguna Seca and is one of my favorite tracks. With the handling characteristics of the Mercedes GT4, I think we will be quick there.” Ward enters the weekend on the back of a victorious trip to Zolder in Belgium, where he partnered with Indy Dontje to win a round of the Gran Turismo Touring Car Cup in a HTP-run AMG GT3 car. The win was his second international victory of the season, but he is yet to taste the champagne in victory lane in the IMSA Series in his own country. “Last year we suffered technical difficulties and cruel luck with the Porsche GT4, so Laguna Seca owes us a win!”
For Winward Team Owner and driver of the #57 Sonic Tools car, Bryce Ward, the time spent back at the shop has been well spent and puts the Houston based team in a great position to succeed this week. “I have very fond memories of Laguna Seca, it is a great track with a tremendous amount of history behind it. That is where I clinched the Pirelli GT3 Cup trophy USA Masters Championship in 2017 with a win in the first race. I look forward to this weekend and I believe that the team’s additional preparation and with Christian as my team mate, a podium finish is within our grasp.”
“I am really looking forward to Laguna Seca, one of the tracks at which I have always wanted to race,” enthused Christian Hohenadel who will deputize for the regular driver of the #57 Sonic Tools car, Indy Dontje, this week. “Laguna Seca is my last event together with Bryce and Winward, so I hope that we can pick up a strong result.”
Round Nine of the 2018 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, The Continental Tire 120, takes place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, September 8th. Green Flag is at 3:15 PST and you can get session-by-session updates from the Official Winward Racing Twitter and Instagram accounts at https://twitter.com/WinwardRacing and https://www.instagram.com/winwardracing/