Amidst its first season of IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition, eEuroparts.com Racing showed the rest of the TCR field at Watkins Glen International last weekend just how strong its team can be.
After entering just one Audi RS3 LMS in the first three races of the season, the Windsor, Connecticut-based team brought a second car for the four-hour enduro at The Glen. At the checkered flag, the No. 10 of Lee Carpentier and Kieron O’Rourke – the team’s full-time car – and the No. 12 of Kenton Koch and Tom O’Gorman combined to lead 67 of the race’s 106 laps.
While the No. 10 was knocked from contention after leading early in the race, the No. 12 slid into the top spot and held on for a fourth-place finish.
Although the team was disappointed with the final results, team owner Matt Moran is encouraged by his team’s performance – especially in comparison with the winning No. 77 Compass Racing Audi of Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long.
“I think the pit stop delta really shows it from this last race,” said Moran. “We smashed the (No.) 77 car out of the pits every time and that was the goal for the guys going in. We’ve had a couple of rough patches at Sebring and at Mid-Ohio where we were very, very slow out of the pits. We spent a lot of time on it between Mid-Ohio and (Watkins Glen) trying to get better.
“That last pit stop was the key pit stop where, I think, Tom (O’Gorman) beat Tom (Long) out of the pits by four to seven seconds by my recollection. That was big. In this kind of racing over a four-hour period, the race is in the pits as well as on the track. We needed to be good there and I think we’re finally getting sorted out with a brand-new crew and hopefully it gets better and better from here.”
Based on the upcoming races for the Continental Tire Challenge – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) this weekend and Lime Rock Park in two weeks – eEuroparts.com Racing has reason to believe their success at Watkins Glen was no fluke.
“I wouldn’t say we’re very familiar with (CTMP), but it’s certainly not a new track for us by any means,” said Moran. “Between our engineer Eric Peterson and Lee and Kieron, I think we’re very comfortable. We made a lot of progress on setup between Mid-Ohio and The Glen. We spent a lot of time testing between races at Lime Rock, so I think these next couple races, we expect to be pretty competitive.”
While eEuroparts.com has been up-and-running for the last seven years or so and Moran’s background in racing began in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series in the 2000s, the group dipped its toe in the sports car field just last year, contesting six races in World Challenge before making the jump to the Continental Tire Challenge.
“We’re new to the series but for me, this was the obvious next step,” said Moran. “The revenue model is much better and the racing is better. We saw more fans at Daytona on the fan walk then we saw pre-race weekends in World Challenge last year, so it’s a much better fit, exposure-wise, for us.”
That “fit” also applies to the team’s full-time drivers Carpentier and O’Rourke, who currently sit third in the TCR championship standings, 24 points behind leaders Kuno Wittmer and Rodrigo Sales in the No. 74 Compass Racing Audi. The duo has been co-driving nearly four years together, with Carpentier coaching O’Rourke up through the ranks.
“I think Kieron put a lot of time in between PCA and AAR the last couple years,” explained Moran. “When the car became available at the end of last year, he and Lee made the decision this would be a good fit for them and I think so far so good.
“Kieron is getting better every single time out on the track, and so is Lee for that matter. We knew we were going to be competitive going to The Glen. Lee has always been very good there, he’s very fast. I think it showed when he went right to the lead and basically stayed there his entire stint.”
And sometimes, as Moran explained, it’s not always about being the quickest pairing on the track.
“We didn’t come out this season expecting to be the fastest guys on the track, but we wanted to get better every race,” Moran said. “Now, we’re right in the thick of it. Britt and Tom are probably faster than us and Kuno and Rodrigo are probably faster than us. But if we stay in races, then we have a shot to win every weekend.”
The eEuroparts.com Racing squad will have their next shot to win this weekend during the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120, set for today at 3:05 p.m. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv and a television broadcast will air on Sunday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m. on FS1.
eEuroparts.com Racing is looking forward to competing in today’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.