Two Podiums and a Top 5 Finish for WRPMotorsports Driver Willie Phee at the American Road Racing Championship at Road Atlanta RacewayOver the course of two days WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 2nd in Pro-IT, 3rd in STL and 5th in ITA in the season ending American Road Racing Championship held at Road Atlanta Raceway in Braselton, Georgia.The American Road Racing Championship (ARRC) is the season ending event that features regional-only classes for cars classified by the SCCA. “To finish with two podiums and a top five in the season ending championship was very rewarding” said Phee. “I had a great battle in both the pro-IT and ITA championship races with my OPM team mate Ted Thorpe”.Friday would be a very busy day with five qualifying sessions and the 45 minute Pro-IT race that starts the beginning of the 2012 season. There would be two sessions for each of the championship races (STL & ITA), one session for the Pro-IT race and then the Pro-IT race itself at the end of the day.In the first STL session Phee would qualify 3rd in class and 7th overall. “We were the first group on the track at 8:00 am and it was still very cold and the track was shaded, but I knew it would be my best opportunity to put in a fast time” said Phee. “It took a few laps for the tires to come up to temperatures and I managed a time that would put me 7th on the grid”.The next session would be for the ITA race and Phee would end up 8th on the grid after the first round of qualifying. Pro-IT qualifying would be next and would be a single session, but with a 52 car field it was tough to get a clear lap. Phee would end up 2nd in class and 26th overall. “As the day warmed up I decided to sit out the afternoon qualifying sessions. I figured with the track heating up and the temperatures going up as well the morning times would be faster than the afternoon sessions” said Phee. It would turn out to be a good decision as Phee’s morning times held up.In the Friday afternoon Pro-IT race Phee was gridded in 26th position on the outside. “I was surprised at how fast the start was, normally we’re running about 40 mph but this time we must have been going about 65 mph. It was the fastest rolling start I’ve ever been in. At the start we were five wide going into turn one. I could tell it was not going to turn out well when two Spec Miata’s got together, took each other off the track along with an ITS car that was just in front of me. As the crashing was unfolding I backed off and nearly came to a stop in turn one. Unfortunately that allowed about 10 cars to get by including the 3rd place ITA car. Video can be seen here:http://vimeo.com/32013795By the end of lap one I was six seconds behind the second place car and had to try and keep focused on catching back up”.By lap 17 of the 27 lap race Phee had closed to within 1 second of the 2ndplace car and the battle was on. “I had a good draft down the back straight and got by going into turn 10, he would pass me back on the next lap but was caught in traffic and I got back by. I managed to put a small gap between us and finished about three car lengths ahead at the finish. This is a great start to the 2012 season” said Phee.The first race Saturday morning would be the STL race and like the first qualifying session on Friday the track and temperatures were very cold. The top four cars would all be right together at the start with Phee starting in the 7th position. At the start Phee would maintain third place and stay there for the entire 20 lap race. “It was very a very uneventful race for me, I was right with the top two cars but with the track being so cold I had to wait a few laps for the rear tires to gain some temperature and the top two cars got away” said Phee. “It was great to get on the podium as I only decided at the last minute to run in the STL class”.The ITA Championship race would be held Saturday afternoon in warmer temperatures. Phee would start on the inside in the 7th position but dropped back one position in turn one. He would hold onto 8th until lap three when he would move into 7th. He would renew his battle with OPM team mate Ted Thorpe for the remainder of the race. Both cars were evenly matched and Ted would attempt a pass on lap 14 in turn 10. “I knew he was on the inside and I would have to give up the corner, but I figured I would drive into the turn as deep as I could and see if he would overcook the turn. Sure enough he locked up his brakes and slid through the grass. Check out the video here: http://vimeo.com/32021116That allowed me to pull a three second gap. With four laps to go I could see he was gaining slightly so I just quit looking in the mirrors” said Phee.On lap 18 Phee would catch the 6th place car as it was heading down pit lane with mechanical problems and on that same lap the 2nd place car was off in turn one moving Phee up to the 5th position. Phee would hold onto 5th at the checker and was three seconds ahead of his OPM team-mate Ted Thorpe. “I told myself I wanted a top five finish in this race and it would work out for me. To finish 5th with such a strong field of competitors was a great finish for me” said Phee.“I have to thank the OPM crew for all of their support this weekend, as usual the car was ready to go and I had no problems the entire weekend.”
November 4-5, 2011 – Road Atlanta Raceway, Braselton, Georgia
September 3-4, 2011 – Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
WRPMotorsports Driver Willie Phee Finishes on the Podium at the Final Round of the SCCA Regional Championship at Barber Motorsports Park.WRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in the two days of racing at Barber Motorsports Park.Weather would play a major role in two out of three races over the course of the weekend as both Sunday races would be held in the rain.The schedule for the weekend would include two qualifying sessions and a race on Saturday and one qualifying session and two races on Sunday. The first qualifying session on Saturday would be for the afternoon SARRC race. Phee would qualify 4th in class and 8th overall. At the start Phee would move into 3rd position and maintain 3rd place until lap 5. “Because it was so hot the car started to really slide around a lot and I had a hard time keeping the car on the inside through the turns. I dropped back to 5th on lap 6 but got back up the 4th when the 3rdplace car got sideways through the museum turn. I held on to 4th for the remainder of the 15 lap race” said Phee.Race one in car video can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/29196082The second qualifying session on Saturday would be for the Sunday morning Pro-IT race. Phee would qualify 3rd in class and 6th overall. The qualifying lap video can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/29019463Sunday started out cool and would end up raining as the race was getting underway. The first two starts were waived off and the race would start on the 3rd pace lap. “Unfortunately the defroster in the car wasn’t working properly and I couldn’t see anything. It was so bad I had to pit on the first lap and get the crew to wipe off the inside of the windshield. I tried to go back out but the windshield just fogged up again. I made a second pit stop to get a squeegee to try and clear the windshield during the race and while it helped I never really had clear enough vision to race with anybody” said Phee. Phee would end up 5th in class and 20th overall two laps down from the leader. “It was a shame to waste such a good starting position with vision problems, but at least we know what we need to do to fix the car for the afternoon race” said Phee.Pro-IT in car video can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/29200652The afternoon SARRC race would also be held in wet conditions, but fortunately the track was dry in the morning qualifying session. Phee would qualify 3rd in class and 4th overall for the afternoon race.With a defroster that was working Phee would move into second by lap two and would challenge for the lead on lap 4. “Now that I could see it was much easier to race with those guys. The rear wheel cars were struggling for grip and I was able close in and attempt a pass in the turn 5 horseshoe, I drove down to the inside and we touched, so I backed off slightly to avoid spinning out the 1st place car. Unfortunately I lost drive and two cars got by me” said Phee. Phee would move back into second by lap 7 and hold his position until the final tune on the last lap. “I don’t know what happened in turn 14 but on the last lap the car just got sideways. I maintained control but that allowed the third place car to get a good drive and just beat me to the flag by 4 tenths of a second”. “It was disappointing to hold onto second for the entire race only to lose by such a small margin at the finish. But It was a great race right until the end” said Phee.In car video from the Sunday race can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/29052385The next race is scheduled for October 8-9, 2011 at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia The WRPMotorsports team is sponsored by Optima Batteries, Sparco USA and OPM Autosports.
October 9, 2011 – Roebling Road Raceway, Bloomingdale, Georgia
WRPMotorsports Driver Willie Phee Wins the SARRC Invitational Challenge at Roebling Road RacewayWRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished 1st in class and 2nd in the SARRC Championship Series in the final championship round at Roebling Road Raceway.The SARRC Invitational Challenge (SIC) is an invitation only race open to drivers that compete in a minimum of three SARRC events throughout the racing season. The schedule for the weekend would include two qualifying sessions on Saturday and the Championship race on Sunday. The morning session would prove to be the faster of the two sessions as Phee would qualify 2ndin class and 8th overall just 5 tenths of a second off of the pole. “I actually struggled a little in qualifying as the car seemed to be loose in most of the corners, but the crew chief said loose is fast so I just dealt with it” said Phee.The race on Sunday would be the first event after the lunch break and would be held in cool conditions with a threat of rain. At the start Phee would line up on the outside of the pole sitting ITA car get a great jump and move into 3rd overall going into turn one, ahead of several of the faster ITS cars. “One of the front starting ITS cars must have missed a shift because I got a great run and split the other two cars to move into 3rd when we got to turn one” said Phee. Video of the start can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/30406945Phee would hold onto 3rd through the completion of the first lap drop back to 4th on lap 2 and eventually back to sixth on lap 4 when the faster ITS cars finally got going. Phee would hold on to the lead in ITA and sixth overall until lap 9 when the ITS Miata he was battling with finally got by. This would allow the pole sitting ITA Nissan to close within a car length of Phee and the battle was on.Phee would hold off the 2nd place car for the remaining 11 laps with 1st and 2ndnever being more than one or two car lengths apart. Phee would lead every lap in class and would go on to win by 2 car lengths after the 20 lap race. “I was a little surprised they threw the green as the ITS car in front of the pole sitting ITA Nissan was misfiring on the start. When the green came out there was a little gap on the inside and one of the ITS cars missed a shift so I shot for the gap and ended up 3rd going into turn one. I had a good gap on the second place car but eventually the faster ITS cars started going by and brought the 2nd place ITA car up to me. By lap 9 we were nose to tail for the rest of the race but I was able to hold onto the lead” said Phee.“I have to thank the OPM crew for all of their support this weekend, I hadn’t even decided to come to this race until last Wednesday and they managed to get the car ready and have it running perfectly for the race.”The next race is the American Road Race of Champions scheduled for November 4-5, 2011 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia
August 6-7, 2011 – Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida
WRPMotorsports Driver Willie Phee Scores a Double Podium at the Daytona Double SCCA Regional at Daytona international SpeedwayWRPMotorsports driver Willie Phee finished on the podium in 3rd on both days in rounds 5 and 6 of the South Atlantic Road Racing Championship (SARRC) held at Daytona International Raceway.In only his third time at the famed Daytona International Speedway Willie Phee finished on the podium in 3rd place in both SARRC races. “I so much wanted to get on the podium at this track and to get podiums on both days was very special” said Phee. In race one on Saturday Phee would qualify 5th in class in a field of 20 ITA cars and 11th out of 42 cars in the race group. “I was a little disappointed to only qualify 5th as I felt like the car was handling well but without a drafting partner it was hard to get a fast lap in”. Phee would get a fantastic start and move into 2nd position by the time the field exited turn 3. “I was a little surprised how tentative everyone was in the first couple of turns, the gaps just seemed to open up, so naturally I took advantage” said Phee. Phee would lose second position as the cars exited the banking in NASCAR turn two. “The draft is so important on the banking that if you don’t get a good drive and latch onto the car in front that cars will just blow by you on the back straight”. Phee would drop back as far as fifth after lap two but kept in the draft and made a double pass down the back straight to grab third on lap five of the 10 lap race. “I knew if I got a good run out of the chicane I could try to break the draft and maintain my position. The fourth place car was right there the whole time but I managed to finish with a four second gap at the end” said Phee. Qualifying for race two would take place Sunday morning and Phee would improve his starting position to fourth in class and 12th overall. “My qualifying time was a little quicker than my Saturday time. I was on a flyer on my last lap and my timer was showing +1 from my previous best, unfortunately I caught traffic just before the finish and couldn’t maintain my pace so I had to settle for the fourth place start” said PheeAt the start Phee would again improve to second position buy turn three only to drop back to third entering the chicane. “I held on to third for a couple of laps and then the following cars got hooked up in the draft and got by me. I was in a good battle until lap six when I got pushed wide in turn one and a couple of cars got a run on me going into turn three. I held the inside line but unfortunately I made contact with the passing car and nearly spun him out. I didn’t want to make a pass that way so I waved him by before the next turn” said Phee. Unfortunately two cars got by and Phee was dropped to sixth and it looked like the third place car had broken the draft. But the three cars worked together and closed in on the final podium spot. On the last lap going into turn one Phee was in sixth position, but the third and fourth place cars were battling for position and took each other out in turn two. That would move Phee up to fourth position on the last lap. “When the two cars in front got together the fifth place car got into a tank-slapper and I closed up on him in the infield. I stayed close on the banking and got a good draft going into the chicane moved into third and held on to the finish” said Phee.“To go from sixth to third on the last lap was fantastic, I never expected the race to pan out that way. I have to thank the OPM crew, Tom, Rickey, Tim and Pete for all of their help and support this weekend” said Phee.The next race is scheduled for September 3-4, 2011 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.