With the rain falling steadily at the start of the BMW Performance 200, APR Motorsport made the calculated decision to start their cars at the back of their respective fields. With 81 cars starting in the CTSCC race in the rain at Daytona – split between the GS and ST classes – the team was betting on a fair amount of opening-lap carnage and chose to keep its rookie drivers clear of the inevitable carnage.
Amazingly, the opening lap had no serious collisions, off-course excursions, or full-course yellows. The shock from the assembled crowd and everyone crowding around a TV monitor in the pits was palpable.
Starting shotgun on the GS field, Nelson Canache steadily moved the no. 41 APR Tuned Audi S4 through the field throughout the wet first portion of the race. With the Audi S4′s four-wheel-drive system, Canache drove from 40th to 15th before the first caution period of the race slowed his progress. However, the car developed a mechanical problem that took several laps to fix, dropping Canache well off the lead lap. Once handing the car over to teammate Ian Baas, Baas took the car to the finish in 33rd position.
“The Audi is a really good car, and it was amazing in the rain,” said Canache. “I almost wish the team had let me start the race from our position where we qualified, but I understand why we started at the back. I think we could have been leading the race before our first pit stop. The problem we had with the car was really too bad, but I think Ian and I will be fighting for wins in the Audi S4 this year.”
Among the quartet of APR Tuned VW’s in the ST class, there was a fair amount of inter-team rivalry for the highest-finishing driver – especially as the four cars started lined up nose-to-tail. David Cheng, in the no. 171 APR Tuned VW GTI, passed 23 cars during the opening stint before his car developed a mechanical problem, sidelining him and teammate Aleks Altberg after a strong run.
It would be Hector Guerrero, in the no. 191 APR Tuned VW Jetta GLI that was started by Juan Pablo Sierra, that would cross the line 22nd in the ST class, just ahead of teammate Daniel LaRiva in the no. 181 APR tuned VW Jetta GLI that was started by Christian Perez.
“I had one moment where I was battling with another car into the bus stop, and I had to go off through the dirt,” said Guerrero. “I did what Alex Popow did last year in the Daytona Prototype. Other than that, the car was good. We had a little bit of a push, and somehow I lost the rear bumper, but I was really happy with the car. It felt better and better each lap and I’m really happy that we finished our first race.”
“Since this was our first race and I didn’t have much time in the car, I just wanted to drive without making mistakes,” said LaRiva. “So I didn’t push too hard, I thought it would be dangerous to push. Each lap I got a little more confident in the car, and I can tell it will be a very fast car in ST after some more testing.”
The no. 161 APR Tuned VW GTI lost two laps to the leader due to confusion under separate yellow-flag periods. The car was started by Juan Carlos Alvarez, who then turned it over to Nate Norenberg, with Josh Hurley finishing the race. Despite being two laps down, Hurley’s laptimes showed the car has the pace of the top-five cars in the ST field.
“The car was amazing,” said Hurley. “I knew it was fast but it was really fast and really consistent – it’s a car that can win in ST. I wish we didn’t have our problems under yellow because if we had been on the lead lap, we would have scored a lot of points. I’m excited about the potential of this car for the rest of the year.”
While the results weren’t as strong as the APR Motorsport team was hoping for, there were a few positives that the team took away from Friday’s BMW Performance 200.
“Our goal for this race was to run without problems and to get our cars and drivers through a race distance,” said Jeff Mishtawy, Director of Motorsports for APR. “We are obviously not happy that we had problems with the Audi S4 and with one of our VW GTI’s, but we showed a lot of speed from those cars. All of our drivers drove smart and brought the cars back safely, and we are really encouraged by what we learned with our new VW Jetta GLI’s. We’ll go back and apply what we have learned and come back for the next race, and compete further up the field like the APR Motorsports team normally does.”
The BMW Performance 200 will be broadcast on SPEED on February 4th at 12:00 PM ET. The next race for the APR Motorsports CTSCC team will be at Barber Motorsports Park on March 31, while the team will also compete in their first Rolex 24 at Daytona which begins Saturday, January 27th at 3:30 PM ET and will be broadcast live on SPEED.
- APR Motorsports | Photos: © 2012 Corey Beaman
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