For Immediate Release- September 19-20 was the inaugural Imsa Tudor United Sportscar race weekend at Austin’s newly finished Circuit of the Americas, and it was also the first time Jeff Westphal pulled double duty, competing in his usual Ferrari 458 GT for Scuderia Corsa in the United Sportscar race, but also in a BMW 128i for Burton Racing in the Continental Sportscar Championship support race.
It was the first time in 2 years that Westphal took the wheel of the production based cars in the Continental Tire Championship after leaving the series as one of the regular favorites for pole position and contending for the podium. Two 30 minute sessions later, Westphal was setting the pace as the fastest BMW in qualifying starting just outside the top 10 in the largely competitive field of touring cars.
At the drop of the green flag, Westphal wasted no time in the hot Texas heat, making his way up through the field to ultimately have the #22 Burton Racing BMW in 4th place within the first hour of the 2.5 hour contest. “The Burton BMW 128 is a fantastic car to race, the car is naturally so capable, and the Burton team have worked really hard to give my teammate and I a very well set up racecar. We aren’t the fastest around the track, but we can make our best lap over and over with less drop off than many others in the field” explained Jeff.
The Burton #22 went on to finish 4th in a race where rain slowly covered most of the 3+ mile circuit, as Westphal prepared for his practice in the #63 Ferrari 458 for Scuderia Corsa. “The Conti race today was mental, hot, and rainy in certain sections, yet completely dry in others. It was a very challenging condition to maximize and continue progressing up the field, but at this point I am shifting my focus to the Ferrari and the race we have later this weekend.” Said the Californian.
On the United Sportscar side of things, after the recent BOP (balance of performance) change, the Ferrari’s had more of an uphill battle now being 286lbs heavier than the Porches, with the Porsche also being allowed the use of advanced aerodynamics on the front of the car. “The BOP is always and ebb and flow, unfortunately right now the Ferrari is on the downward part of the cycle with the other cars being quite a bit more competitive just given the rules and allowances for weight and horsepower, but we cannot change this now so all I am focused on is getting every ounce of speed out of our package for the 2 ¾ hour race on Saturday. We know we wont be as quick on a single lap, so I am going to help Scuderia Corsa make our car good over the whole hour stint.” Professed Westphal.
#63 Ferrari would end up qualifying 16th of 17, making the day difficult for Westphal and Balzan. But in traditional 2014 form, Westphal drove the #63 up to 9th in the first 60 minutes of his stint. Balzan worked hard in the car for the next 40 minutes and gained a few more spots before loosing a right front tire suddenly and needing to pit for emergency service. Shortly after an A/C failure led the cabin of the 63 to get very hot, and cooking Balzan pitting again for a driver change for health reasons. This meant Westphal got back in and did another 45 minutes on top of the 1+hr he did at the beginning of the race in the heat of the day with an A/C system pumping hot air into the cabin. Jeff would ran quicker than the other Ferrari up the road, but didn’t have enough pace to hold off the massively lighter and more powerful Porsche in pursuit, giving up the position gained for an 11th place finish to the Lone Star Grand Prix.
Jeff, Alessandro and Scuderia Corsa get ready for the Petit Le Mans (10 hrs.) race in Road Atlanta, GA in 2 weeks time for the season finale of the inaugural Tudor United Sportscar Championship. You can follow them at: