Team TruSpeed Autosport comes to WERC races to win. With a crew outfitted with a full complement of gear on a tractor trailer for its GT3 Cup car, Team TruSpeed Autosport plays at a high level, yet a win in 2016 had eluded them. That is until the sun went down at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in June.
TruSpeed Autosport has been battling with Team Prototype Development Group all season long for top honors in ES and for overall wins. In every event this year, Team Prototype Development Group has come out on top, and they had a one-lap lead over TruSpeed for the first hour even after one pit stop.
However, by the start of hour two, TruSpeed took the lead it would hold till the end after Team Prototype Development Group’s Factory Five GTM car had fallen off pace. The team pitted and then the car left without the engine cover in place. In the end, TruSpeed won ES and overall by two laps over its nearest competitor, Team Coldcock Whiskey.
“The car was fabulous and it was the best race of my career,” said first-stint driver Jim Slavik. “Tom Haacker is just amazing and he’s fast and consistent every time, so he brought it home. It was our best race.”
Haacker, who turned the fastest lap of the race, at 1:51.858, was sure to thank his crew.
“My partner went out and laid ‘em down and kept our target in sight. I got in the car and it was hooked up,” Haacker said. “The crew did an awesome job. We got out of the pits with a tire change and fuel load that was all she wrote.”
By the end of the first hour, Team Achilles Motorsports had a two-lap lead on second place Team LRPM and three laps on third-place Team Roadshagger Racing. By the end of the second hour, Team LRPM had encountered obvious problems and was 16 laps down and Team Roadshagger Racing taken over second place.
At the finish, Team Achilles Motorsports enjoyed a two-lap lead over Roadshagger and nine laps over third-place Team German Auto 2.
In E1, Team Strom Motorsports demonstrated its experience in endurance racing. After picking up a third-place finish at Buttonwillow in April, Team Strom Motorsports fielded two teams in June, which finished first and second in its BMW E46 cars. Team HPD finished third in its Acura RSX.
Honda Performance Development’s company club car, a Honda Fit, fielded by Team HPDRC bumped up to E2 for the 2016 season and they have it going faster than any Fit has gone before. After scoring a second-place finish at Buttonwillow in April, the team boosted the car’s performance even more, but mechanical troubles sidelined the car after just two laps. Still, the team finished second and is tied in points in E2 with Team Mazdaspeed.
“We blew our transmission on Friday, rebuilt it Friday night, brought it up there this morning, ran a couple laps in the sprint race and then got two laps into the endurance race and we blew our engine,” said Team HPDRC driver Aaron Hale. “We just put a supercharger on, so it was kind of an endurance test that didn’t work out. Now we’ll try something else.”
Always hotly contested, E3 had five cars at Buttonwillow, one of which was endurance racing standout and 25 Hours of Thunderhill class winner Team RJ Racing. Team RJ Racing has its drill down to a science, but Team Sampson Racing, whose driver Roman Vaisman typically drives the whole three hours has been on a tear in 2016. Vaisman took a first and second in prior events and he and Team RJ Racing were running lap times within a second of each other.
This was no enduro for these two teams. This was a three-hour sprint race, and at the end both finished on the same lap. Vaisman came out ahead for Team Sampson Racing, with RJ Racing in second and Team Bavarian Performance in third.
“We had an additional fuel stop that we had to make because we were running low on fuel because we were running pretty fast,” Vaisman said afterward. “But everything worked out. The car ran great. The suspension worked great. The Hoosiers were great.”