TOOELE, UTAH – In the high elevation provided by the surrounding mountains, JCR Motorsports rose to the occasion and earned a second-place finish and a pole position in the Grand Prix of Utah the weekend of Aug. 12-13.
Driving the #99 Kenda/RecStuff.com/JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4, Jeff Courtney finished second in Saturday’s race. He also recorded the fastest race lap on Saturday to start from the pole on Sunday.
It made for a successful weekend at the warm and challenging Utah Motorsport Campus track outside of Salt Lake City.
Down to one car as the team was forced to park the #89 RPM Canada/Enercare Wolseley Canada Maserati GT4 driven by Fred Roberts for the season due to damage sustained in the previous race at Mid-Ohio, the JCR Motorsports crew focused on the #99 car and came away with the hard-fought podium finish at Utah.
“This is not a track that we expected our car to win at and I have to admit that I really wasn’t happy with our car throughout the test sessions and qualifying, but Simon (Payne, engineer) and the crew did a great job continuing to search for adjustments to the car and keeping me positive and focused to put in the best effort possible, and in the race we just kept digging and taking advantage of every opportunity that came to us and things just worked out.
“I was pretty happy with the 2nd place finish and very surprised we put in the fast lap for Sunday’s pole.”
Courtney combined patience with timely aggressiveness to earn the team’s second-place finish.
Starting fifth, he moved up to 4th at the start of the race, maneuvered to third in a skillful pass executed over a series of turns and charged into second place on a restart by going wide and outside in turn one.
That came with a little more than seven minutes remaining in the one-hour race and Courtney held this position through the checkered flag.
“We’ve been knocking on the door but things haven’t been going our way,” Courtney said. “We have a pretty fast hot rod for lap times but raceability can be an issue so we got some good breaks on the track at just the right time today.
“I’m happy to be up here (on the podium) because the crew has been working really hard. The outcome today is awesome.”
Starting from the pole, this looked like it could be a sensational weekend for JCR Motorsports. But it was not to be, as Courtney got locked into fierce battles among several competitors and could not stay at the front.
There was some thrilling side-by-side racing and multiple passes, with Courtney eventually settling into firth place. He was battling for another possible podium finish but with just 12 minutes remaining got tangled up with Rodrigo Baptista. The contact knocked Baptista out of the race and eventually put Courtney back to 12th place, which is where he finished the race.
“I knew we did not have the fastest race car this weekend but I was hoping to get a great standing start and maybe the guys starting behind me would lock into some battles that would let me run in some clean air because we can put in some respectable lap times on our own, but we are struggling with the race ability with our car in comparison with some of the other makes,” Courtney said. “Unfortunately we were stampeded by faster straight-line cars at the standing start and that locked us into some pretty hard-fought battles throughout the race.
“We had some really good racing and exchanging of positions going on out there and I was pushing super hard on Rodrigo and Nate (Stacy) hoping they would fight each other a bit harder and maybe open an opportunity, but late in the race I had some contact with Rodrigo in the clubhouse turn and we both spun.
“It was a tough ending to good weekend and what could have been a great bounce-back from Mid-Ohio.”
Courtney’s World Challenge effort is propelled by Kenda Tires along with RecStuff.com, the authority in trailer parts, an online retailer that specializes in trailer tires and wheels along with other components for trailers.
JCR Motorsports will next compete in the Grand Prix of Texas at the Circuit of the Americas on Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-3.