2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
Sebring International Raceway
March 17, 2022
The highly anticipated debut of the Racing to End Alzheimer’s/Hardpoint No. 22 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport in the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway was hijacked by a pesky little nightmare of a glitch that just wouldn’t say die.
Despite a successful test run two weeks before, the team faced technical difficulties as soon as their brand-new Porsche hit the track for the mid-March practice runs. Though it is not uncommon for new cars to require tweaks and calibrations, this particular “ghost” computer code fault rose up over and over again to haunt the team throughout the weekend.
Invisible but Insidious
During qualifying, the fault reared its nasty head again, sending the car into limp mode at 50% power. The team scrambled to reset the computer in the pits with limited success, and the No. 22 ended up 30 seconds off pace.
Set to start from last place, the team brought the car back into the shop to find a solution to the elusive problem. With assistance from Porsche support, they implemented a temporary workaround that would provide most, but not all, power to the car. Nick Galante and Sean McAlister would have their work cut out for them.
Gimpy but Gritty
At the start of the race, the No.22 looked good, allowing Galante to maneuver his way up 5 spots in the first lap. During the third lap, however, the car dropped into limp mode again, forcing Nick to pull over and reset the ignition. The lost time dropped the team back to last place just before a full caution was called on the track.
Despite the over-riding frustration, Nick Galante is not one to throw in the towel. Coming out of the caution, he fought his way back up to 13th place before handing the car off to Sean McAlister.
After a perfect pit stop, Sean entered the fray. Chomping at the bit to make up lost time, he made a move on the outside of turn one. Unfortunately, another driver was making a move on the inside at the same time, forcing hard contact that resulted in a dizzying spin – and a bruising bump back to last place.
Undaunted, McAlister continued to jockey for position, pushing the underpowered Porsche as best he could. However, multiple caution periods and another incident of slight contact relegated the Hardpoint/Racing to End Alzheimer’s team to finish 20th of 30, the last of the cars still running.
Through it All, Hope
This weekend was anything but easy. All of us were looking forward to a better showing in the inaugural race of this new partnership. But the season is just beginning for this team – and the results on the track are never the only story.
For one, in a race filled with an inordinate number of crashes and cautions, mayhem and mishaps, it’s not unreasonable to feel an ounce of pride that the No.22 battled through two collisions of its own to make it across the finish line. Coming in dead last doesn’t sound great until you factor in the fact that a third of the cars that started this crazy bumper car race didn’t even make it to the checkered flag. So we’ll call it a win for sheer staying power – and look forward to those fine podium finishes in the near future.
More to the point though, these are the experiences that forge a true team. When the pressure is on, it’s the moments of grace and greatness behind the wheel, in the pits and in the shop that define us. It’s the sense of a mission bigger than any one race. It’s putting hope for better days at the center of everything you do.
We’re so excited to be back on track – and to have you along for the ride!
Next up: Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey CA. April 30th