Round 5 of the Trans Am West Coast Championship series took place at Portland International Raceway this past weekend. The Grr Racing team ran into some last minute issues when they found a bad bearing in their quick change rear end which started the weekend off with repairs at the track.
On Friday the team took advantage of the two test sessions to get a feel for the track, driver Michele Abbate hadn’t raced Portland since 2016 so this provided a good opportunity to refresh her memory. Michele also invited the Counterstrike International Martial Arts kids camp to come by her pit spot and even take a seat in her Katech LS3 powered TA2 Chevy Camaro.
Unfortunately, the team continued to experience an inconsistent brake pedal as well as handling issues. Abbate attempted to adjust the brake bias in the car, only causing more issues on the track. With a closer inspection Crew Chief Anthony Philleo noticed that the brake bias assembly had a failure and was not working properly. With help from DJ and friends a new pedal and brake bias assembly was installed into the car Friday evening.
Saturday consisted of more complications for the team. As Michele worked to pick up her pace, her transmission then began to jump out of gear as she hit certain rumble strips on the track; In addition, the car was still understeering horribly through the corners. Immediately following a disappointing qualifying session the team pulled the car back into the paddock and the work began.
The transmission came out, was inspected, and adjustments were made to hopefully help keep it in gear. The new brake assembly was removed again, and modified since it was still binding up at the bias pivot point, and lastly the team received remote guidance from Tony Ave of Ave Motorsports to tune the suspension and get the car turning properly. Last to leave the paddock, and first to arrive in the morning, the team also scuffed their pads and replaced the rear rotors. With a 9am pre-race impound and the late night, the team managed to get everything in order to take the green flag on Sunday for the feature race.
Abbate started P9 and had her sights set on moving forward. With a clean start Abbate worked her way forward as she adapted to the new set up on the car. With having to hold the transmission in gear, she still managed to improve her lap times and pose as a threat to those in front of her. Unfortunately early in the race Abbate received two hits to her inside in turn 7, but managed to get right back on track without a spin. She worked to regain her position a few laps later, where unfortunately more contact in turn 12 caused the car to spin, but she was able to continue and keep the car on the lead lap.
“Michele drove some of the most consistent laps of the race, that allowed her to reel in the field throughout the entire 50 laps,” Anthony shared. Although the two cautions came out at the worst time for Abbate, one with the safety car almost hitting her as it entered the track at T1, which then placed her another lap down from the entire field, a right place, wrong time situation. Once the checkered flag waved she advanced her finishing position by 3 and officially finished 6th in class.
“I’m really proud of our team and I am so thankful for the help we received all weekend long. I know the outcome wouldn’t be anywhere near this well if we didn’t have the support we had- so a big thank you to EVERYONE that came by our pits” Michele said. Michele also took home the award as the fastest Trans Am driver in the SVRA hosted Jaguar F-Type Autocross Challenge. The team is looking forward to the final round of the Trans Am West Coast Championship which will be held at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, TX on October 4-6.
Stay tuned for some more exciting news – we have some new partners joining our team and if you haven’t noticed Michele has been doing weekly give aways on her instagram! Be sure to follow her at @M1cheleAbbate and @grrracing!