Sebring, Florida: March 18, 2013 – After racing to two checkered flags at the Sebring winter tests earlier this year Huntsville’s Martin Barkey and the Garage Racing team faced their biggest challenge yet. As a lead up to the 61st running of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series opener the U.S. Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama series began its own season at this event.
This year forty beautifully prepared Porsche GT3 Cup cars competed in two classes for two, forty-five minutes races around the 3.74 mile course. The field was made up of thirty-one cars in the Platinum class and nine, including Garage Racing, in the Gold class with speeds reaching in excess of 160 mph. With clear skies and warm typical Florida March weather the Sebring International Raceway promised optimal conditions for competitive road racing.
This was Garage Racing’s first chance to perform in an actual GT3 Cup event and last opportunity to prepare for the Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Michelin which kicks off May 17-19 with the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Victoria Day SpeedFest weekend. This was also the team’s first time running on Yokohama tires and it took a number of practice sessions and a lot of work on the part of the team to get everything dialled in right.
Though the crew did a dynamite job of getting the car tuned to perfection the Thursday race did not go as well as was hoped. An incident on the first lap put Martin in 8th place and nineteen seconds behind the next car in class. Though he was able to improve his position as the race progressed a multi-car accident caused a full course yellow which remained in place for the duration of the race leaving Martin to finish in 6th place in class.
Friday’s race was equally plagued by yellow flags with more carnage on the track than expected following several crashes and spins. Even teammate and former GT3 Cup Gold champion Shaun McKaigue found himself pressed into the wall at turn one as he became sandwiched between two cars mixing it up on the last couple laps.
In spite of the yellow flags the second race had some great battles with Martin taking on a couple of the gold series cars and a platinum series car as well. Positions were traded with passes being made back and forth. Unfortunately, the platinum car was able to maneuver in front and finished ahead of Martin. However, he was able to battle his way to a 6th place finish in class and 26th overall.
Following Friday’s race Martin Barkey was upbeat about the experience. “Both races were a great opportunity for me to learn race craft, with bumper to bumper and door to door action I was able to get a good feeling for the race pace and try some planned aggressive manoeuvres. After having some handling issues during practice sessions, the team had the car set up well for the race. It was a great week and has very much given the entire team a heads up for what is to come during the Canadian Cup series.”
With many lessons learned the team gears up for its first Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin event in May. Check out www.garageracing.ca to follow Garage Racing as it makes its mark with more high-octane, edge of your seat action. It’s the place to go for the most recent pics, videos, drivers bio’s and up to date racing news.
From Marc Cloutier/ email@example.com.