APR Motorsport, one of the most experienced tuners in the Volkswagen world, puts a lot of research into developing its products that find their way onto your VW in the driveway. Like any self-respecting car manufacturer’s Research and Development department, APR finds that the best way to get that experience in a short amount of time is through most automotive enthusiast’s favorite weekend hobby, motorsports.
A company can’t continue its development of new products, however, if they stay complacent and stick to one setup event after event. There is one major difficulty that comes with always forging ahead and changing things, especially in the motorsport world, and that is uncertainty. Changing settings and components affords lots of research in what changes do what to a car, but it can also cause the car to act in a way that’s unexpected and hindering, and ultimately get between you and a podium, or a points lead.
The APR Motorsport VW DriverGear team had just such an experience in its pursuit of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Driver’s Championship, electing to make developmental changes before the race on June 19th at Mid Ohio. Driver Josh Hurley gives good insight on what happened: “The weekend at Mid Ohio was to be an unusual one. In a push for the championship, the APR Motorsport VW DriverGear team had decided to make a large developmental step on the 181 car to try to get just a little bit more performance. As I took to the track on the test day, it became clear that the package was not ready. For the next day and half, Kevin and I piloted the car while the team tried to diagnose the issue.”
These issues started eating into qualifying time, something a team vying for championship points can’t afford to lose. Thinking quickly, APR switched Hurley and co-driver Kevin Stadtlander to the team’s other car, #171, while Ian Baas and Mike Halpin took control of the #181 car, but unfortunately had to sit out of qualifying as it was fixed for the next day’s race.
The race proved to be a test of the drivers for more than the mechanical errors, however, with high heat wearing on both man and machine throughout. Despite this, both cars managed to work their way through the pack into the top positions. In fact, under the guidance of Hurley, the 171 car managed to take the lead for 16 laps, only to have a car from the Grand Sport class spin directly in front of him, causing Hurley to crash, and suffer front end damage. Despite all this, Hurley managed to fight his way back to second place, giving him and teammate Stadtlander their fourth top-four finish in a row, and keep them within one point of 3rd place in the driver’s championships.
Unfortunately, the 181 car still suffered from its mechanical problems on race day, forcing the team of Baas and Halpin to stop no less than six times during the race. Throughout all the issues, though, the duo proved to be extremely quick, working their way up the pack, only to have another mechanical issue rear its ugly head. All in all, the team ended up 14th, which isn’t bad at all considering all they had to endure and adapt to.
“I have to thank APR, as well as Mike Halpin and Ian Baas who started the weekend in the 171 GTi, for the last minute decision to put Josh and I in the 171 due to a mechanical issue with our 181. This was a great call and allowed us to stay alive in the driver points championship,” Stadtlander said after the race.
Baas stayed positive, and kept a light mood, saying, “It was like groundhog’s day. I kept going by the same people! The crew did a great job in getting the car to the finish, and we definitely had the speed to be up front, but luck just wasn’t on our side today.”
APR proved to be very resilient through its trials at Mid Ohio, and proved that a company can be forward-thinking in development, without jeopardizing its standing in a motorsports season, all it has to do is be flexible. But what really makes that work is a crew and a team of drivers that are just as willing to be flexible and roll with the punches, all of which the APR Motorsport VW DriverGear team seems to embody fully. Hopefully the next round at New Jersey Motorsports Park will prove to be a less surprising one, all while helping APR get some new parts ready for our cars at home.
For more information on APR Motorsports GTI racing efforts check out there website at: http://www.goapr.com/race/
Photos provided by APR
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