AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 29, 2015) – Moorespeed and driver Will Hardeman finished the 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season strongly with two top-10 finishes Sept. 26-27 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama was invited to the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V and took to the 11-turn, 2.238-mile track for Rounds 15 and 16.
Hardeman, driver of the No. 19 WPD/ Moorespeed Porsche 911, produced some of the cleanest, most consistent racing of his rookie season in motorsports, proving his quick progress as a driver.
Hardeman, from Austin, Texas, started ninth in the Platinum Cup class in Round 15. He tried different racing lines and was running on pace with the leaders, but traffic halted his progression to the front.
Many other drivers had the same issue on the tight, tricky Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit, which features the famous “Corkscrew” turn complex. Only two drivers in the top 10 made a pass for advancement from their starting positions. Hardeman settled for a ninth-place finish, while Elliot Skeer locked up the Platinum Cup Drivers Championship after winning from the pole.
Hardeman started 11th overall in Round 16. This time he navigated traffic and made passes throughout the 45-minute race, using a consistent racing line and driving with finesse developed throughout the season. Hardeman was running seventh with 15 minutes left in the race when champion Skeer hit fluid on the track and was sent spinning.
Skeer’s spin caused the only caution of the race and led to the final minutes of the 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season to be run under yellow. Hardeman’s charge to the front of the field ended, and he finished Round 16 in seventh place.
Hardeman headed home from California with confidence after two top-10 finishes and an incident-free weekend.
“I’m really satisfied with how I picked up the pace early on,” Hardeman said. “Not a lot of stumbling blocks. I had never been here before, but everything seemed to be clicking for me early on. I didn’t see anything that was too sketchy or too difficult that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I’m also really happy with how the race weekend turned out. I put together two good races, with no incidents, and I was able to put the car at its limit and comfortably be there.
“Now that I’ve got a season under my belt, I’m more comfortable driving at the limit, where some other tracks I may have been under or even pushed it over the limit. That made for inconsistent lapping and a lot more moments. This was the fastest, cleanest racing I’ve done. It was just such a great weekend to end the season on.”
Hardeman benefited over the weekend from coaching from Porsche factory driver Earl Bamber, part of Porsche’s winning overall team in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Bamber helped him better analyze data and pick up the nuances of the circuit.
“Earl brings this Zen Master approach to things,” Hardeman said. “He doesn’t drill down into the details too much. We haven’t been focusing on the details; we take a look at all the big things going on, and he tries to say more with less. He’s like Price (Cobb), really. Price does the same thing. Earl is the hot-shoe factory driver, so to get perspective from a guy like that is really special.”
Team owner David Moore thought Hardeman produced the most composed performance of his young career in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season finale. Hardeman has gone from zero racing experience in any vehicle to competitively fighting at the front of a field with the quickest young stars and veterans of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned single-make series.
“It’s been a wild ride and a quick one, but I’m very proud of Will,” Moore said. “Bringing in Earl before COTA at the test, we made a couple significant changes to Will’s driving style. It may have been an initial setback, but in the overall picture I think we started to see the fruition of those changes this weekend. He really understands the physics of the car, the timing of the car and learning how to adjust on the fly out on the track as conditions change. I think he had a super-good run. He never put a wheel off.”
Moore has carefully built a team of professionals around Hardeman to bring him up to speed in the racing world. He has evolved his coaching style to meet Hardeman’s development. Moore always deftly timed the introduction of new tools to help Hardeman succeed.
“You have to be careful as a teacher to not overload your student,” Moore said. “We have a balance of teaching him the nuts and bolts of things, but we’ve been focused on the mental side of racing for quite some time.
“We would have never brought an Earl Bamber in six months ago because Will just wasn’t at the level to where it really would have made a difference. When we did bring Earl in to help, it was specifically on things I was having trouble conveying, and Earl has a different way of saying things. He is very good at reading the data and looking a G-forces and so forth.
“Earl comes to me and says here are the key points we’ve worked on, you make sure Will stays on his line. Will had a tendency up until this point to get behind guys and follow what they were doing even if it was the incorrect line. Will didn’t do that this race. He ran his race his line. This has been the most consistent race he has run.”
The final rounds of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama are not the final rounds of racing this year for Moorespeed.
Austin-based Moorespeed will close its 2015 race season on its home track. Moorespeed and Hardeman will return to Circuit of the Americas Oct. 3-4 for Round 6 of the Pirelli Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy. This will be Hardeman’s third event at COTA.
In Round 1 of the Pirelli Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy in March at COTA, Hardeman took home two wins after winning pole. He also finished in second place twice at Road America in the series in late July. Hardeman hopes to duplicate those efforts with quicker times.
“That’s going to be a punching bag session for me,” Hardeman said. “Now that I know how to run the fastest lines at COTA, if they let us run those lines, I can run them. I hope good competition shows up so I can learn more, because that’s really what I’m here to do, have fun and learn.”
The last race weekend for Moorespeed features two days of practice, qualifying and racing. Race One qualifying takes place at 2 p.m. (CT) Saturday, Oct. 3, followed by Race One at 4:10 p.m. Race Two qualifying takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4 and is followed by Race Two at 2:50 p.m. For a full schedule and results, visit competentmotorsport.com.
For updates on Moorespeed and Hardeman’s on-track performance, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.