6THGEAR RACING POSTS SOLID PERFORMANCES ON ITS ROAD AMERICA DEBUT August 23, 2010: 6thGear Racing put in a solid showing at the team's first visit to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. After some early-week familiarization laps in a single-seater, driver...
6THGEAR RACING POSTS SOLID PERFORMANCES ON ITS ROAD AMERICA DEBUT
August 23, 2010: 6thGear Racing put in a solid showing at the team's first visit to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. After some early-week familiarization laps in a single-seater, driver Marco Cirone returned to the cockpit of his 6thGear Racing/ItalForm Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, and was on form all weekend.
The familiarization laps showed their value early on in qualifying: "our strategy was to put in a good qualifying lap early in the session, and then park it in pitlane until the other guys started putting in some good times," explains Marco. "That early lap was good for third place, and I expected to have to go out again to defend it, but the session was red- flagged." With the session stopped, the ItalForm Porsche locked into the third-place starting spot.
Marco was on form, getting solid starts in the #88 Porsche all weekend. "Marco had a run on me out of Turn One when Ross over slowed me," recalls 2nd-place competitor Michael Schein. "Marco just kept his momentum and got by." After getting past Schein, caution periods presented opportunities to challenge for the lead. "I knew Cirone was very quick," says leader Ross Smith, "so every time we got the yellow, I changed my throttle point on the green flag...I'd hit the throttle at a different point every time, which helped keep me in front."
Cirone was left to defend against a motivated Amadeo Quiros, who eventually executed an inside pass late in the race at turn 8. "Quiros is just masterful on the brakes," credits Marco. "I tried to re-pass him in the kink, but he defends just as well."
The third-place finish is still among the team's proudest accomplishments this year. "This really was a great weekend for us. In comparison, the podium at Sebring was kind of lucky, but this run was well-fought. You can see by now that we've earned a bit of credibility as a competitive team, even though we're still a small outfit with a very small budget. They can't believe how well this little team does."
Marco started on the outside of the 2nd row for Sunday's race 2 of the doubleheader weekend, and another great start saw the ItalForm car challenging the leaders into turn 1. "I tucked in behind Schein in P2, and had a run on him going into turn 3. I tried on the right, and he moved over. I went to the left, and he moved over again." The ensuing contact ended Schein's race with wheel and suspension damage at the left-rear, and sent Marco to the pits to replace a damaged right-front wheel. Despite running competitive lap times for the balance of the race, the time lost saw the 6thGear entry finishing down in the order.
"I'm still really proud of the team's performance this round," notes Marco. "The car was competitive all weekend, and once again, we really provided the big teams with some solid competition."
Budget willing, the team hopes to return to Road America as part of next season's Patron GT3 Challenge. "I just love Road America. What an amazing track," says Marco. "It was really starting to come to me by the end of the weekend. After Sunday's race, I was wishing we had another one to go."
The Patron GT3 Challenge heads for its final round of the season in late September/early October as part of IMSA's season-ending Petit Le Mans weekend.