In only their second race of development, the Factory MINI John Cooper Works Racing Team with LAP Motorsports struck early as Ruscitti fended off some late charging cars to secure the MINI USA brand its first Top 10 finish since returning to the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
After learning and acquiring some much needed data in Sebring, Ruscitti and team owner Luis Perocarpi went right back to work testing close to team’s headquarters in Indianapolis a few weeks prior to this past weekend’s round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca which paid off in the strong result.
Remo teamed up with experienced open wheel driver Zack Meyer and went to work in the #37 MINI JCW during Friday practice dialling the car in, with Ruscitti posting a very quick time while working on race pace, placing the pair in 12th at the end of practice about 10 positions ahead of where they were at the last round. “I’m ecstatic with the progress we’ve made since Sebring and I’m hoping to bring the team a strong finish this weekend,” Remo commented after practice.
Meyer spent most of the qualifying session inside the top ten before getting pushed back to 11th at the very end where the duo would start the two and a half hour endurance race. Heading into the race, the team knew that the endurance of the homologated braking package would make finishing the race a serious challenge.
As the green flag dropped Saturday afternoon in sunny Northern California, Meyer got swarmed avoiding some cars and dropped back to 15th position after the first lap. He then settled in and began to show the pace that the new F56 JCW package has to offer, overtaking car after car driving the #37 MINI up to 6th position before handing the car over to the veteran ST driver Ruscitti with an hour and twenty five minutes remaining in the race. After servicing the car with new tires, and a fresh tank of fuel, Ruscitti found himself in an epic battle leaving pit lane, fighting hard with a BMW for the next couple laps before having to settle in and having to conserve the brakes that were still underneath the car. in the final 15 minutes of the race, Ruscitti was in a separate battle for 9th place with the #31 Porsche Cayman. At the chequered flag, Ruscitti was left to settle for a very respectable 10th place for the New MINI JCW Team. “I am so extremely proud and happy to be a part of this program. I know how hard Luis (Perocarpi; Team Principal) has been working and I am elated to be able to deliver a top 10 finish to him so early into our development. We have some bugs to work out with the brakes as we had a car to fight for a top 5 finish but were hindered by our brakes. It’s all part of development, but I can’t wait to get to the next round at Watkins Glen and work with this awesome team again,” stated Remo as he removed his helmet after the race.
Remo would like to thank all of his partners; LAP Motorsports, MINI USA, FIKSE Wheels, Bell Helmets, Polen Designs, KW Springs, OMP America, -273 and last but not least everyone involved with the Factory JCW Team. Round 4 will be held at Watkins Glen International Raceway at the end of June. Last year was a heartbreaking result with Ruscitti running out of gas while leading the race with only 5 minutes remaining. This year, Remo is ready to bring the same effort and gain even more momentum for the MINI JCW brand.
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