This week, eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing returned from Daytona after a successful shakedown of a new car, new equipment, and new personnel in preparation for the quickly upcoming 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season. Overall, 3 cars hit the track and right off the bat the off season shop time seemed to pay off. Both Audi RS 3 LMS’s and the new R8 LMS GT4 got up to speed quickly, wasting no time in beginning the ever-important Daytona test.
eEuroparts ROWE Racing Vet Kenton Koch joined Tyler Cooke in the new car, both were surprised at the drivability of the Audi R8 GT4 chassis. Cooke is coming off a successful first season in GS behind the wheel of a BMW M4 GT4, so the switch to the mid-engined layout was a definite change. Koch has been racing prototypes for a number of years at this point, so the back-seat powerplant felt at home. Both drivers were able to plug straight in and fully utilize the car.
Here’s what Tyler Cooke has to say about 2019: “Kenton and I have known each other for some years now and I was spotting for him as he crossed over the finish line to win the 24 hour at Daytona in 2016. I think this is a great duo to capitalize on a good result each race and ultimately the championship.”
Owner Matt Moran praises the Audi R8 LMS GT4 as being very easy to set up and work with, especially with the simple double-wishbone suspension.
TCR driver Lee Carpentier was also in Daytona for the test, and only needed to run a few laps due to his extensive experience in the RS 3 LMS from the previous season. CoDriver Kieron O’Rourke was not present for the test. Last year they finished third in the championship for the IMSA Continental Sports Car Challenge TCR Class points with the #10 Audi, and both drivers are confident for a strong 2019.
Fresh to the eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing squad were drivers Ryan Nash and Russ McDonough. Both were excited to stretch the legs on the RS 3 LMS TCR that they will be campaigning together for the 2019 season. McDonough is coming off a full season at BN Racing in USF2000, while Nash spent 2017 and 2018 in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Championship Series. The TCR class is a noted departure from these open wheel series, but both acclimated quickly.
Upon arrival the cars received fresh Pagid brake Pads,which are familiar from last year. The biggest change realistically will be the new tires, which teams are already lauding for their consistency throughout the stint. The switch to Michelins for 2019 is most likely a contributing factor to the quicker pace than last year’s Daytona qualifying sessions. Compass Racing also showed great speed with their McLaren 570s. Expect fast, wheel to wheel action in the next competition year!