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Pit+Paddock Prepares for Battle At One of the Midwest’s Most Competitive Road Courses
BY Mike Maravilla //
June 4, 2024
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Photography: George Bucur
@theghostofmozart
  • The O’Reilly Auto Parts Four Hours of Mid-Ohio is the fourth contest of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) championship.
  • Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.258-mile, 13-turn clockwise circuit that is widely considered one of the most competitive in the United States.
  • After showing class-leading pace at Laguna Seca, the #93 Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR has its sights affixed on climbing the leaderboard into the second half of the championship.

Piloting a track with rich motorsport history always adds to the lore of a race weekend. Today, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is well-known as one of the most competitive circuits in the United States. Its founder, Les Griebling, always intended it to be and broke ground on Mid-Ohio’s footprint in 1961. Famously, he said: ”A lot of people were building courses and I said we’ll build one that’s a little better. I wanted it to be difficult and it came out my way. It’s very interesting because the driver is busy all the time.”

“Busy” was Griebling’s cheeky way of saying “insanely difficult to master” and the laborious nature of Mid-Ohio’s layout only gets harder when you’re going wheel-to-wheel with 49 other competitors in two distinct classes. Rhythm is a key attribute here. Get the first in a series of interrelated corners wrong, and you’ll be swallowed alive by the end of it. ­The rhythm is exacerbated by Mid-Ohio’s undulating terrain. Although Laguna Seca has more elevation change overall (mostly due to its signature Corkscrew), Mid-Ohio is a more progressive rollercoaster ride throughout. The track boasts 136 feet of total elevation change from its highest point at the Keyhole to its lowest point at Thunder Valley where fast cars flirt with speeds approaching 200mph.

FROM THE DRIVERS

Montreal Motorsport Group (MMG) published its outlook on social media yesterday and the sentiment throughout the garage was clear: they were all smiles for race week. Certainly, there was a lot to be happy about. Although its positive pre-Laguna Seca track testing, practice, and stellar qualifying pace didn’t fully translate into points, the team is confident that its time will come. Simply put, MMG’s work ethic and commitment to finding front-running pace are unquestioned across the paddock and they have a driver line-up that can extract that potential on the track.

Dai Yoshihara’s incredible first stint at Laguna Seca in the #93 Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR certainly helped build the Japanese driver’s overall confidence in the series and he’s been chomping at the bit for his next opportunity to race. His stint at Mid-Ohio will be his first, but he’s already made some observations based on simulator testing. “The track is pretty short, but it seems very technical. I think the lap time difference will be small between us [and GS], so traffic will be another challenging factor,” said Yoshihara. “I know that we have lots of pace in the car and a great team to support us. It’ll be a four hour race, so hoping for a trouble-free, clean one!” Faced with a similar question, Wittmer got straight to the point, “Eyes on the prize.” The Yoshihara/Wittmer one-two punch currently sits 6th in the overall championship out of 22 total combatants, just 20 points shy of 5th.

THE GREEN FLAG

The green flag drops at the O’Reilly Auto Parts four-hour enduro on Sunday, June 9 from 12:35 PM to 4:40 PM ET with qualifying taking place a day prior from 4:30 to 5:05 PM ET.

Thank you to ARPENEOSTurn 14 DistributionMishimotoWhiteline, and DBA for supporting Pit+Paddock’s inaugural IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge campaign with Montreal Motorsport Group.



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