After unsuccessful attempts at VIR and NJMP, Car 81 was officially unveiled at Watkins Glen International Raceway in upstate New York over the weekend. Rounds 5 and 6 of the North American Formula 1000 Championship were the maiden voyage for the team’s newest addition. The 2018 JDR F1000 features a 2017 Suzuki GSXR-1000 engine, Suzuki OEM Quickshift, and redesigned rear subframe and sidepods. JDR is the first in the world to implement this engine package in a race car. As expected, the team overcame multiple teething issues with the car and a 9 month offseason to earn two 5th place finishes.
The team was consumed with car preparation on Thursday night and much of Friday. As they added finishing touches through the first 3 sessions in the garage, driver Tim Pierce completed two laps in the final session of the test day. The Saturday qualifying session gave way to several consecutive laps requiring only minor adjustments so the team shifted focus to chassis setup. Tim drove conservatively during the Saturday race, while keeping a close eye on key engine parameters and getting comfortable in the new chassis.
The new JDR took a violent spin in Sunday qualifying, which ultimately ended the session early. Entering the “Bus Stop,” which is a slight braking zone at the end of the fastest section of the track, the rear end snapped around. The car spun several times, at a high rate of speed, until it came to rest in the runoff area. No contact was made and there was no apparent damage, but Tim came in to pit lane for a quick check. The crew discovered a massive coolant leak and pushed the 81 car back to the garage. The team turned their attention to repairing the coolant leak and analyzing engine data to determine if the engine was cooked. Sunday’s race was much the same as Saturday. Tim drove the car conservatively due to high coolant temperatures.
Tim Pierce, Driver Car 81 – “We are so excited to finally be racing again. The 2018 JDR F1000 is a magnificent machine and I can’t wait to get to full speed. I expected many issues to pop up while shaking down a new car and I knew the weekend was going to be one big test session. We had two main goals for the weekend, which were to prove the new engine package and get used to the new chassis. I didn’t blow the motor, turn the car into a fireball, or crash so that’s always a good thing. Jerry Hodges of JDR Motorsports and the team learned a lot about the car. Now we know what needs to be done to go fast and I’m confident we will get up to speed very quickly. I was also very proud to see Jose Gerardo finish 2nd on Sunday in the former Car 18. It was a fitting close to a 7 year chapter in my racing career as the Firman RFR-1000 makes its way to new owner, Thomas Copeland.”
Special thanks to our Area 81 Racing sponsor Waterfall Security Solutions, crew member Rob Nellis of UTI Global, and designer/manufacturer Jerry Hodges of JDR Motorsports. Area 81 Racing continues the NAF1000 Championship season with Rounds 9 and 10 at Summit Point Motorsports Park in Summit Point, West Virginia on September 1st and 2nd. Stay tuned to www.Area81Racing.com and our FaceBook Page à https://www.facebook.com/Area-81-Racing-Team-173745692673454/ for event coverage.