PCM 2005 Season Review Q&A Having captured the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship California-based Pacific Coast Motorsports switched its title-winning, open-wheel pedigree to the endurance world of sports car competition in 2005. Campaigning...
PCM 2005 Season Review Q&A
Having captured the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship California-based Pacific Coast Motorsports switched its title-winning, open-wheel pedigree to the endurance world of sports car competition in 2005.
Campaigning the veteran Corvette C5-R in the GT1 Class of the American Le Mans Series the team scored five top-ten overall finishes from seven starts, including an historic all-Corvette GT1 podium, before turning their attention to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series with an all-new Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype entry.
PCM's top-six debut in November at the last round of the 2005 season is hopefully a sign of things to come as the team gears up for the challenge of next month's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and a full season of Grand-Am competition in 2006.
With 2005 drawing to a close PCM Team Director, Tyler Tadevic, took time out from his Daytona preparations to review what's been an eventful and challenging year for Pacific Coast Motorsports.
Q: What first led to the change of direction for PCM from open-wheel racing into sports car competition?
TT: The decision came from the fact that we had accomplished what we had set out to achieve in Toyota Atlantic's and that was to win the championship. The team's success in 2004 combined with the likelihood of the field shrinking in 2005 meant that we wanted to look elsewhere for our next competitive challenge. We were fortunate to win the championship in our second season but we weren't ready to graduate to Champ Car so Tom (Figge), Alex (Figge) and I sat down and reviewed the direction of the team. We looked at sports car racing and felt it offered us a great platform to further demonstrate the team's potential.
Q: Was it a smooth transition?
TT: Pretty much! There were some nuances to sports car racing that we weren't aware of heading into it. We were a young team, completely new to the discipline and we came into it with the open-wheel mindset of always tweaking the car and trying to fine tune it. We didn't see so much of that in sports car where the focus is on going the distance.
The cars are certainly easier to maintain but we still applied the same attention to detail and put that together with the sports car mindset - there's more to this than just being fast as you have to consider such things as fuel mileage and strategy, I'd say it's a purer form of racing. The crew were happy though as they now play a much larger role over the course of each race.
Q: How does the level of competition compare, in your experience, between open-wheel and sports car racing?
TT: To be honest the level of competition is very similar. Ultimately there's still a gap between the have and have-not's! The professional teams with the appropriate resources still operate at the top and those with less are further back but that's true of any upper-level series. The competition is fierce no matter where you race.
Q: Were you surprised to finish in the top-ten of the ALMS at Sebring back in March given the nature of the race and the fact it was the first time you had run the Corvette C5-R in anger?
TT: Yes! I think we were surprised to be running so competitively at Sebring. Had it not been for an unfortunate parts failure we could have finished with a podium because we were running third in class at the time with two hours to go. We definitely felt like we had a podium car but still our overall result was satisfying. We took a top-ten finish and we were happy with the way the likes of our Yokohama's handled over the course of the race. There was a lot of competition at Sebring in the GT1 class and we enjoyed that fact.
Q: Were you realistic in your expectations of competing in GT1 against the factory entries and more established teams?
TT: Possibly not but based on the team we have here at PCM I knew we had the personnel capable of competing successfully. The bottom line is that it came down to the level of equipment and resources we had available against those of our competitors which included those with factory-based support.
Q: Moving further into the ALMS season, how satisfying was it to complete a Corvette 1-2-3 in Portland alongside the factory C6-R's?
TT: It was pretty cool and definitely the highlight of our time in the series. It was particularly special for me as it was my hometown race having been brought up in Oregon.
Q: When did PCM's thoughts start turning towards Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series competition?
TT: We had actually planned on competing in the Grand-Am series from the start of the 2005 season but a sponsorship deal presented to us meant we switched to the Corvette and the ALMS, all the time believing we'd be running a second customer car in the process. Unfortunately the deal fell through and we were left to race the veteran Corvette C5-R as a sole entry. We had a great time in the ALMS while we competed there, it's a well run, professional championship and we were made to feel welcome right from the very start.
Q: What was the key selling point for PCM to commit to the series for 2006?
TT: As I stated before, we were already sold on the series and we could have been there earlier. We took the decision to terminate our ALMS operation early in order to apply our resources to prepare for January's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and the full 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season.
We're attracted by the level of competition in the series and of course the venues, we're stoked to go back to Long Beach to compete and Daytona's a classic. It's a strong series, the ties with the France family are an obvious benefit and some of the best drivers in the world compete, next month's race at Daytona will boast a star-studded field unobtainable at any other event!
On top of all of that I'm proud that we'll be continuing to represent General Motors by running the Pontiac power unit next season having enjoyed a productive relationship with them throughout 2005. In addition I'm delighted to be working again with Hasselgren Engineering on our engine program in 2006. We'll start to see the fruits of that relationship when we resume testing at Daytona in early January. We first worked with Paul Hasselgren when we competed in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and I'm confident his company can provide us with all that's needed in that department for future successes.
Q: Did you expect to be so competitive on your Grand-Am debut in Mexico?
TT: No! We had various issues leading up to the event including no paint on the car and very little testing having only taken delivery of the car just a couple of weeks before the race and so on. Heading into the race our goal was simply to go for a top-ten finish. Well we definitely achieved that having run as high as second overall and taking sixth place at the flag.
It was a great result for Ironclad who we ran as a title sponsor on that occasion and I'm thrilled that we'll have them on board once again as an associate partner for the year ahead. We love using their products and I look forward to building our relationship further through our Grand-Am program. Ultimately we were on the pace in Mexico and it bodes well for the forthcoming season!
Q: Finally, with that in mind, what are your expectations for Daytona in January and the rest of the 2006 season?
TT: Our goal for both is to score top-ten finishes. If we can maintain a consistent level of competition then we'll be looking to finish the season in the top-ten of the championship. I'd definitely like to see the podium at least once in the year, if not more, but the ability to score points at each round will be crucial for a strong championship finish.
I'm pleased to report that things are looking bright on the sponsorship front ahead of the new season and I'm hopeful that we'll have a brand new title sponsor when we arrive in Daytona at the end of January for the Rolex 24 Hours.
Looking ahead I believe we'll be competitive but this is our first season in the series against some well-established opposition. That said I have total confidence in our package, I believe in our drivers, Alex and Ryan did a great job this year as did the
whole crew, and I think we put out a good product on the race track. We'll be in pursuit of improvement as the year progresses and if that happens then the results will follow.
PCM kick off the New Year with testing at the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway, 4th-7th January, prior to Round 1 of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, 26th-29th January.