If there’s one team in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge hoping that history repeats itself, it’s the Mini JCW Team.
It was at the Watkins Glen International circuit last year where the Mini JCW Team -- supported by LAP Motorsports -- reached the pinnacle of its success in the series, achieving its first 1-2 finish with two of its three MINI JCWs.
And as the series returns to the 3.4-mile circuit in New York, Mini does so fresh off the same result it first achieved one year ago, with Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra in the No. 73 taking the most recent Street Tuner (ST) class win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month with its sister car, the No. 52, finishing second. And in fact, that finishing order was an exact reversal of another Mini 1-2 finish at Sebring International Raceway back in March.
“Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks in the country,” said Mat Pombo, whose brother Mark was part of the No. 52’s winning lineup at Sebring and second-place result at Mid-Ohio. “We’ve always had a good platform in the Minis there, even the first year we were there. We were competitive and last year it all came together when we had a first and a second. Now, we’re coming off a first and a second at Mid-Ohio.”
There is one big difference, though, heading into Watkins Glen this time around – the race is four hours in length, rather than the traditional two. But winning an endurance race isn’t new for the MINI JCW Team, as it won the series’ inaugural four-hour race in ST back at Daytona International Speedway in 2017.
“It’ll be a little more challenging, a little more patience,” said Mat Pombo, who co-drove with Derek Jones to the Daytona win in 2017. “There’s so many (Grand Sport) cars that it’s about managing traffic and trying to keep yourself clean until the last 30 minutes and hopefully being able to race for the win.
“I think we’ve got a good lineup of drivers that are all pretty level-headed and all understand the long-term goals of the championship and the season, and to really try to keep MINI leading the manufacturer points. That’s what our goal was coming out of Mid-Ohio and we left with the manufacturer lead, so we’re really wanting to maintain that through Watkins Glen.”
For Mat Pombo, Team Owner Luis Perocarpi and the rest of the Mini JCW crew, that manufacturer points lead is the top priority for 2018, which is also the final year for the ST class.