IT WASN’T JUST THE SWELTERING FLORIDA WEATHER that ratcheted up the heat for the Legistics-sponsored No. 17 Porsche Cayman during the second round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge on March 21 in Sebring, Florida.
Teammates Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly, coming off their strong finish at Daytona, had high hopes for another decisive performance at Sebring. During practice, the No. 17 seemed to handle the Florida heat better than many other ST entrants. Galante qualified in seventh place and was doing well at the start of the two-hour race. And then everything changed.
Galante began to experience trouble with the handling of the car. The crew determined that a moment of contact with another racecar had broken the Cayman’s front sway bar drop link, resulting in a significant amount of oversteer. Galante managed to keep his cool, maintain control, and bring the car in for a scheduled pit stop and driver change. Now it was Pumpelly’s turn to face the heat, the pressure and the crazy uncertainty of driving a compromised car.
Pumpelly roared onto the track. Going head-to-head with another Cayman, he suddenly lost the Automatic Braking System (ABS).
“As a driver, when you assume you have ABS, you’re hitting the brake pedal pretty hard,” Pumpelly said. “In the Cayman, without ABS, all the brake bias goes to the rear. As I was trying to recycle the ignition and the master to get the ABS back, the car shut off.”
Adjusting quickly, Pumpelly got the No. 17 back into the race. Without ABS, he had to push the brake pedal right up to the moment of lock up every time without overstepping; otherwise the wheels would freeze and wreak havoc on the tires.
Despite the extraordinary challenges, Pumpelly and Galante still managed to pull out a top-10 finish for Rennsport One, Legistics and new sponsor (pro golfer) Rickie Fowler. The team took home valuable championship points from Sebring to bank with their dominating Daytona performance – and proved once again that they can handle whatever heat comes their way.
The next race for the No. 17 is at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, on April 30. We’d love to see you there!