AUSTIN, TEXAS – In its final race of the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season, JCR Motorsports finished as it had for most of the year. On the podium.
Jeff Courtney took the bull by the horns in Longhorn country and put his #99 RecStuff.com/Kenda/JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 on the podium with a third-place finish at the Circuit of the Americas as part of the Grand Prix of Texas over Labor Day Weekend.
This concluded the season for JCR Motorsports, which will skip the final PWC race in Sonoma, California, to concentrate on putting together a championship program for next season.
“I’m pretty happy with the season,” Courtney said. “We have a lot to be satisfied about this year. Although I do want to win races. I felt we had a crack at a few wins but some of that was taken out of our hands by some rule changes to us, so in that way it was a bit frustrating. Still, we had three second-place finishes and five podiums, so it was a good season.”
The JCR team also added a second car with driver Fred Roberts, who ran two events – four races – before getting sidelined for the season when he was severely hit in his third event. He was on the GTS-A pole at that race for the second consecutive time.
“It was very unfortunate what happened to Fred at Mid-Ohio as he was really getting quick in the Maserati and would have defiantly been standing on some podiums this season!,” Courtney said. “I am glad to say that he has mended well and is very much looking forward to next season.”
One of those team podium finishes occurred at the GP of Texas. As he had done for much of the season, Courtney started near the front of the pack, this time on the outside of the front row, but as happened at previous races, his Maserati was unable to match the sophisticated launch systems of some of the other brands on the standing starts, and he eventually settled into fifth place.
He built a whopping 10-second advantage over the sixth-place car by lap 19 of the 22-lap race – a lead the size of Texas – yet was several car lengths behind the fourth-place car of Drew Staveley. With time and laps winding down in Sunday’s second GTS race, Courtney closed a seemingly insurmountable gap just two laps from the finish to make a pass for fourth on Staveley’s Ginnetta G55, and that put him in position to take advantage of a late spin by one of the race leaders to get the well-earned third-place result.
In the first race of the Texas Grand Prix on Saturday, Courtney started seventh. It would have been fifth, but Courtney had received a competition penalty from race officials dating back to the previous race at Utah.
In the race, Courtney and several cars traded places over the 3.4-mile, 20-turn track for much of the race. After a typically tight start, Courtney emerged clean and was in 8th place. He moved up to seventh on the third lap, and tho he was running eighth a few laps later, was in striking distance of fourth as part of a four-car train.
It was exciting racing, all the drivers maneuvering to try and find a crease in which to make a pass. Courtney nearly found it at the end, crossing the finish line practically side-by-side with fifth-place finisher Lawson Aschenbach. He also turned the second-fastest lap time of the race.
“I got a bit lucky and turned in a good lap in on Saturday, mostly because I drafted on Lawson,” Courtney modestly said. “That put me on the front row for Sunday, but like what happened when we started up front (on the pole) at Utah, the others had more straight-away grunt than us and I got overtaken by Turn 1. But there was defiantly some fun, competitive racing out there and that is what we come for when we’re at these races.”
With this season complete, Courtney, Roberts and the entire JCR Motorsports team is turning their attention to 2018. Courtney is eyeing more than just podium finishes, too.
“Our intention is to come back and challenge for both championships, Pro and Am,” he said. “We’ll take what we learned this year and take a run at it.
“From a team standpoint, our entire crew and staff did a great job and we milked as much out of the car as it had at almost every race. I feel I’m driving as good as I ever have, so all in all, I’m pretty happy with the season, So thanks to everyone!
“We were in a lot of on-track battles this season that had the TV cameras focused on us and our sponsors, and it’s always good to get great exposure for our sponsors. Thank you to our longtime partner and sponsor Kenda Tires along with RecStuff.com, also Roberto Bozzi at Maserati and Jody and Gayle at speedseatfactory.com.
Courtney’s World Challenge effort was 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.
The #89 car of Roberts had support from RPM Canada and Enercare, one of Canada’s largest home and commercial services and energy solutions companies.