The Roar before the Rolex 24 at Daytona

| January 16, 2012

Caban Motorsports VW JettaNew Team, New Car for 2012: Caban Motorsports VW Jetta GLi

I arrived in sunny Florida excited and happy to be away from the winter cold, but a bit apprehensive about starting the 2012 racing season with a new team and car combination on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. Luis Caban, along with his son Jonathan and manager Paul McLoed, ran a pair of VW Jettas in SCCA World Challenge competition and this was their first foray into Grand Am Continental Tires Series racing.  I would be sharing driving duties with Todd Lamb, an experienced Grand Am driver who would be doing most of the setup work. The plan was for Todd to drive on Friday to set up the car and I would drive on Saturday and Sunday.

During the Friday practice runs a problem with the engine management mapping kept the car from exceeding 132 MPH on the banking. Luis and his crew worked on the problem and it was resolved in time for Saturday practice. Todd went out first in the sessions to work on setups and I later jumped in so I could acclimate myself to the high speeds of racing at Daytona. I hadn’t been racing since New Jersey in July and hadn’t been to Daytona since 2008. I concentrated on re-learning the track, learning the VW Jetta, and keeping out of trouble with traffic.  Although my times were slow, I wanted to approach getting up to speed in a planned and incremental way. Between sessions Todd and I looked at computer data from the car and he helped me to find and correct the errors I was making. It was the first time I had ever really sat down with a coach and analyzed my driving and compared data with another driver’s laps.

Shop for Continental tires at Tire Rack.

 On Sunday the plan was for me to spend most of the time in the car and get my lap times to where we could qualify the car in a good spot. The first session was promising and I knocked off 3 seconds of my lap time until a power steering hose broke while I was entering turn one. This was a bit hair raising as I was coming off the banking from 150MPH and braking and turning left for the 40 mph turn. I went wide and avoided contact with the tire barrier and pitted the car. After lunch, I went out again and really pushed hard to get a lap of 2 mins, 15 secs. I was still 5 seconds off the pace of the fastest cars but I was using well worn tires and both the car and driver had a lot of room for improvement. Although Luis wants to make a big splash in the Grand Am paddock, my goals for a successful race in 3 weeks were to finish in the top 15 and for me to get a 2.15 lap time. So far the plan is coming together and I felt the team and driver improved and accomplished the goals of the weekend. Now on to the Grand Am 200 on Friday, January 27.Over 80 race prepped machines, from Mustangs to Minis, lots of action, wild spills and thrills. If you’re in the central Florida region, you gotta check it out!

Shop for KONI shock absorbers at Tire Rack.

Thanks to Caban Motorsports and and my sponsors: MJ, OG Racing and Bell Helmets

Category: Grand Am, Races

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