Championship year in review WOW!!!! The ...
Championship year in review
WOW!!!! The #3 Quiznos Lotus Exige, piloted by Richard Eisenberg, wins the prestigious GT3 Central America Championship, and finishes as Sub Champion in the Costa Rica National Championship!
Race 1 Copa Diana (March 25 & 26):
The newly acquired Quiznos Lotus Exige sits this race out as the car remains locked up in Customs after arriving to Costa Rica just one day prior to the race weekend. Instead, the Quiznos Racing team prepares their 2005 TS2 class Summer Championship winning #8 Toyota Yaris to run in the faster GT3 class for race experience and driver points. Amazingly, we finish 4th in the very reliable #8 Toyota Yaris and earn crucial GT3 Championship points.
Race 2 Copa Maxx Energy (April 29 & 30):
We get the Lotus Exige out of Customs just a few days before the race and have virtually no time to break in the motor or practice. The Quiznos Lotus Exige debuts in street legal form (with required inspection stickers and Costa Rica license plates). Despite being 300+ pounds overweight and the only car racing in street legal form (with passenger seat, floor mats, headlights etc.), we shock everyone and back-up our press conference claims of being competitive from day one by finishing on the podium in 2nd place. The Lotus remains street legal for several more weeks and is driven to and from the Quiznos regional office regularly.
Race 3 Copa Hankook (July 22 & 23):
Several new competitors show up and we push the stock street suspension and brakes to the limit. The weekend is not kind as we miscalculate shock settings, warp brake rotors, and sustain minor accident damage. After battling back hard, we finish strongly and on the podium again in 2nd place. Despite the strong 2nd place podium finish, I am growing tired of being the runner up (first loser in my book) and know we can win outright. I decide to make drastic team changes. We must win! We need more technical support and direction so I decide to join forces with our good friends and chief rival, the Toyota Racing Team. We battle their driver, who happens to be the defending National Champion in our class, Amadeo Quiros, for the rest of the season.
Race 4 Copa Coca Cola (September 2 & 3):
The Toyota Racing Team prepares the Quiznos Lotus for the first time and makes modifications to take some excess weight out. Although we remove 100 pounds, we are still 200+ pounds over weight. The competition is fierce and we finish 3rd. After the race, the chief Toyota Racing engineer, Marco Flaquer, asks for the following changes:
1. stronger springs (thanks to Russell Gibbons at Lotus Sport)
2. lighter and wider wheels (thanks to Robert Puertas at www.blackwatchracing.com)
3. racing discs and racing pads (thanks to www.Sector111.com)
4. remove more weight (thanks to our Toyota Racing Team designated mechanic, Pablo)
5. more camber (thanks to the creativity of Toyota Racing Team mechanics)
6. driver should lose some weight (I lose 10 pounds before the next race, and 15 before the end of the season)
Race 5 Copa Rocket (September 30 & October 1):
My mentor and unofficial coach, Javier Quiros, co-drives with his brother Amadeo in their 2005 championship winning Toyota. They are unbeatable. They finish 1st and we finish behind them in 2nd. The Toyota Racing Team inspired changes are working fantastic on the Lotus as I manage to improve my track times considerably. We are now just 1 point out of 2nd place in the National Championship battle for GT3.
Races 6 and 7 Copa Premio Kit (November 18 & 19):
THE ACCIDENT - 17 days before the race, we are at the track trying some new suspension set ups. After my first 6 laps, I am slightly uncomfortable with the settings and radio in to inquire about the changes. I am told to remain on the track for 6 more laps and to push harder. Despite my best efforts, my lap times are almost 1 second slower than the previous race. The car is under steering on corner entry and over steering on high speed exits. I bring the car into the pits and discuss the situation with Javier Quiros. He gets in the car to help determine the problem. On his second lap, he loses control (truly unbelievable), and slides backwards into a safety wall at 48 mph (determined by our Racepak G2X data acquisition system). As I approach the accident scene, I am relieved to see Javier is already out of the wrecked car and appears to be uninjured. As I approach Javier who is pacing next to the wrecked car and admiring the newly shortened body work, he says "Richard, I think you might be right.....the car has a slight over steering problem". The humor is enough for us both to laugh hysterically as we walk back to the pits.
My wonderful assistant, Laura Vega, works relentlessly to quickly get the parts we need to rebuild from Lotus and Janspeed Performance in England. Despite her best efforts, the airfreight packages from Lotus get lost for several days, and we do not receive the parts until the day before the race. Bad luck continues as we determine that Lotus has accidentally shipped an Elise clamshell instead of the needed Exige clamshell. The Toyota Racing Team mechanics don't give up and work through the night. The car is at the track in the morning. Without testing and practice, I am pessimistic about a good finish and worried about our standing in the Championship points' battle. Then, I remember that racing is supposed to be fun. Fearing a non-competitive weekend, I ask Javier Quiros if he wants to be my co-driver in the Lotus. I figure the publicity of having one of the best (if not the best) and most famous drivers in Costa Rica as my co-driver will help attract attention for our Quiznos and KFC sponsors. He accepts.
I break my personal best lap in qualifying despite heavy qualifying traffic. I bring the car in for Javier Quiros to qualify as my co-driver. He sets the pole and destroys the long track record. We both dominate all weekend long taking 3 first place finishes and 1 second place finish. The car is faster than ever! We are solidly in 2nd place in the National Championship (behind Javier's brother, Amadeo Quiros). More importantly, we take the 1st place lead in the Central America Championship which runs parallel to the National Championship events but includes several more competitive cars, foreign drivers, and a different scoring system which rewards fastest lap times, pole in qualifying, and the first 10 finish places.
Races 7 & 8 Cuscatlan Tres Horas de Costa Rica (December 9 & 10):
During the last practice session on the day before the race, we destroy something in the gearbox. Without hesitation, my chief competitor, Amadeo Quiros volunteers the gearbox out of his personal car (a Toyota Corolla T-Sport which happens to use the same engine and similar gearbox as the Lotus). This amazing act of kindness is something I will always treasure. Amadeo is an amazing person and competitor. The Toyota Racing Team mechanics work through the night again to fix the car.
The Central American competition is fierce with several new cars and foreign pilots. I qualify 8th but am not worried knowing that the 45 minute heats will take a toll on the other teams. Javier and Amadeo Quiros debut a new Toyota Altezza (previously run in England) with significantly more horsepower than the Lotus. The track records we set in the previous races are shattered by new cars and foreign Central American drivers.
Despite suffering some minor mechanical failures (we lost a rear wheel and broke a shock just after finishing the third race in 3rd place), we finish the weekend in an amazing 3 way leadership points tie in the National Championship race events. We wind up with the 2nd place National Championship race trophy as the tie is decided by the finishing order of the last race. This secures our position as Sub Champion in the Costa Rica National Championship.
More importantly, however, is that we finish strong in all four of the weekend's races and earn enough Central American Championship points to keep our points lead and capture the prestigious Central American Championship for GT3!!!!
I would like to thank my wife, my family, Javier and Amadeo Quiros, the Quiznos and Toyota Racing teams and mechanics (who gave me a car which finished every single heat and race it entered, something none of our chief rivals can say), KFC, Pepsi, Lotus Sport, Janspeed, Blackwatch Racing, Sector 111, RacePak, and EVERYONE who helped make this dream a reality!!!!
What a Season!!!!!