The IPGParts.com race team travelled to Palm Beach Intl Raceway this past weekend for the finale of the Tropical Endurance Series (November 12-13th, 2011). Coming into the final race 4th place in points a good finish was crucial for the team to move into the top 3 points earners for the 2011 season. The team competed with the 1993 Acura Integra GS setup for the Improved Touring A (ITA) Class during the season and at the finale. Earlier in the year a test session was done at the Palm Beach Intl Raceway (PBIR) road course to familiarize drivers Louis Murphy and Russell McMullen with the track and that proved invaluable at quickly getting the car to the top of the class.
Saturday mornings qualifying session put the team into the 3rd spot with a 1:35.916 Lap Time. The amazing part is that the top 3 cars in the ITA Class were only split by .05 seconds. It surely would be a very competitive race to the finish. The races format was a bit different than most as a 1.5 Hour Enduro would be run Saturday afternoon, the cars then parked on pit road, the team allowed to work on the car for only 30 minutes Sunday morning and then the remaining 1.5 Hours of the enduro started at 8 AM Sunday morning. This format proved that reliability and consistency would be key. As the green flag dropped on Saturdays portion of the 3 Hour event Louis Murphy behind the wheel quickly moved up spots and within the first couple of laps was leading the ITA class. The team caught a lucky break as during their mandatory minimum 5 minute pit stop as the Yellow Caution Flag flew slowing the entire field down. This leapfrogged the team to not only 1st in class but 1st Overall for the race as Saturday's 1.5 hour enduro came to a close.
Sunday mornings 30 minute work session on the car went very smoothly. Tires were rotated, new front brake rotors were installed and the car was given a general once over to ensure it was ready to rock as the green flag dropped. Russell McMullen took the green flag on Sunday for the first stint in the car and smooth laps kept the car at the top of the field. After the pit stop with Louis Murphy behind more consistent laps kept racking up as the team was running in conservation mode to ensure that they would take the checkered flag after the 3 hours of wheel to wheel racing. At the end of the Sunday portion the team slid a spot to 2nd in the ITA Class and 9th Overall (out of 32 cars). The best finish for the team all year and with the 2nd place in class finish the team gathered enough points during this Double Points event to move into the 3rd position for the year end points chase in the ITA Class. The best lap time during the race was a 1:35.603
2011 was the first year for IPG Road Racing, a lot was learned, a lot was developed and a lot of desire to keep doing this has grown. Can't wait to get the schedule put together for the 2012 season !!!!