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WRL COTA Race Weekend Recap

I spent the last few days at Circuit of The Americas providing #racecar support with a 2018 Mercedes-Benz AG AMG #GT4 race car in the World Racing League Inc series.

We met up on Wednesday to unload the car and equipment. This is the first time I’ve supported this car, so I tried to familiarize myself with it.

The basics: This is a race car from the manufacturer, not a street car turned into one. It’s powered by a 4.0 twin-turbo V8 AMG powerplant that puts power down through a torque tube and a transaxle in the back. It’s a manual (it has a clutch pedal) but is an air-shifted setup (paddle shift). The 6-speed has a locking differential that’s adjustable, along with fully adjustable suspension and huge brakes.

The interior—wow, it’s wonderful. Very well-executed and thought out. Air conditioning, all buttons and controls within reach, and the level of buildout is stellar. The owners installed a cool-suit (water is cooled and pumped through the driver’s suit to keep them cool) and a drink system through their helmet.

So, with that done, we met the new owners and crew. They flew in from Australia and were great! A dad and his two sons who own multiple go-kart tracks and have plenty of driving experience.

We did some test and tuning on Thursday and discovered the clutch didn’t want to disengage—after bleeding it a few times, we diagnosed the issue as a clutch failure. So, we pulled the transaxle out to identify the issue. Once the transmission was out, we had to drive it to Dallas to get the clutch installed (it required special tools, and the clutch was there too)…. We got back to COTA around 3:30 Friday morning. At 6:30 am, we installed it and were on the track by 9 am. I’ll call that a win.

Transaxle Out Of The Car

We did some minor adjustments to the suspension Friday, along with replacing the brake pads and rotors to bed them in for the endurance races we were going to do Saturday and Sunday. During a tire change, a wheel stud decided to pack up and go home, requiring us to replace a wheel hub—this was going to be a pain, as the thread pitch was different from the other 3 wheels, so we had to be careful about which lug nuts would be going on it.

Wheel Hub With Broken Wheel Stud

Saturday morning comes around, and we started out around 6th place in the 8-hour endurance race. I was in the refueling position, picking up 50lb jugs of fuel and putting them into the car—my goal was to have each 6-gallon jug in the car in 9 seconds, with a 2-second swap to a new jug. 3-4 jugs were put in the car every stop, along with a tire change. The drivers swapped out every few hours, with the help of Andreas, the driving coach, and strategist. We felt a bit of looseness in the car and found a tie rod adjustment link had loosened up, so I eyeballed aligned it and tightened it up—we ended up with a third-place position!

A good nut and bolt check on the car, replaced the brake pads, cleaned her up, and tucked her into bed, and we went to bed waiting for Sunday’s race.

Sunday morning we started around 6th again. Wayne, the dad, jumped in first, but because of the sun coming up, a few turns were difficult to see, and we lost some positions; we fell back to p22. Drew jumped in and started fighting back positions during the morning. A few fuel stops, then Aaren jumped in. We fought all mid-day and got back up to the top 10. We did a tire change and fuel, and swapped drivers again. P9, P8, P7… Drew and Aaren kept chopping positions off. P6, P5, P4, P3… and then we had a red flag stop due to a vehicle catching fire on the track.

We had a chance to catch up to P1 and P2. P1 was another AMG GT4, and P2 was Garage 57’s NASCAR piloted by a professional driver from the NASCAR series. We’re talking heavy league stuff here. Professional teams that do this for a living, and here we are debuting a car AND drivers! The race restarted, and P4 (who was 2 laps down from us) started blocking us. We had no fight with this position, and he wasn’t going to catch up to us—so blocking us made no sense. We asked Car #9’s radio operator multiple times to let him pass, yet no assistance was given for us to try and cut down the leader’s time. Eventually, WRL got involved and insisted requests #9 let us go by—but by then, we only had 10 minutes left. P1&P2 fought hard—eventually getting down to the very last few corners and making contact with each other. We ended up physically with P3, but because of penalties landed in P2.

I’ll take it.

In any case, it was a great weekend race, WRL put on a great event, I got to spend some time with good people, and filled my internal cup of doing things like this. Until the next race 🙂

Hey, we’re still doing toys for tots free brakes and are extending it to the end of this week, December 8th! Bring me toys, and I’ll give you free brake pads!

Alex Noll

CEO – ABR Houston
832-797-9114 8498 Miller Road, The Woodlands Texas 77354

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