Rossini Spec Miata racer Jason Connole dips his toes into Pirelli World Challenge TCA at VIR

Rossini Spec Miata racer Jason Connole dips his toes into Pirelli World Challenge TCA at VIR

For those of you who are curious about Jason Connole’s experience in the Pirelli World Cup, here is a short summary of his weekend in his own words

……….“Like all race weekends, you know up front that you are going to face some challenges, and this weekend was no different. I had to jump through a few administration hoops getting my racing license and we also had a few technical glitches, but apart from that, this was a dream experience for me. I have always wanted to race in the pro series, and to get an opportunity to race the Mazda MX-5 Global Cup car at a Pirelli World Challenge TCA event was nothing short of thrilling.

Pro weekends are nothing like Club Racing. You are treated like royalty, from the organizers to the support crew to the fans. The Pirelli World Challenge did a fantastic job with the event and everyone was very helpful to me when I had questions or when I didn’t know what or where to go.

The Long Road Racing guys (Glenn Long, Cameron Auld, Chad Boyd, Tom Long and Chris Long) were all like family, and were more than accommodating. Whenever we had an issue, everyone jumped in and were quick to solve the problems. Everyone worked as a team and it was a very special experience for me.

During test day and the first practice session we dealt with numerous red flags on the track and an ailing differential so I did not get as much time as I hoped before the qualifying session. Ideally I would have loved to be totally comfortable in the car and run around the fast guys so I could assess what I needed to work on. Fortunately I had Tom Long to help with driver coaching and he helped me get up to speed.

Every session I went faster, and I but still hadn’t got to work with anyone in the draft, and as we know the draft makes a huge difference in these cars.

Saturday’s Race 1, was a rolling start and I started 8th. I was able to make my way up to 5th in class after fighting off some NC Miata’s and Honda Civic’s trying to chase down the leaders. Unfortunately late in the race we succumbed to an electrical issue and I was unable to complete the race.

Sunday’s Race 2 was my first standing start ever in a race. I unfortunately started from the back of the class, made up three spots on a great start and then methodically moved up to 8th in class. I then got stuck battling a Honda Civic that was fast on the straights, but slow in the turns and despite getting by him, he was always able to get past me again on the straights.

That allowed another MX-5 to catch up and unfortunately he didn’t want to work with me and I fell back to 8th. I was hoping to make a late race pass but we finished the race under caution so I ended up with 8th place in my first pro racing weekend. I felt I had top-five pace and possibly faster with some more seat time in the car. Each session I got a little faster, I kept dropping my times until the final race on Sunday when I ran my fastest laps still without a draft running 2:12.00.

I have nothing but praise for the MX-5 Cup car. Drivers need to realize that it is not a Spec Miata. It will not drive or race just like a Spec Miata. It is a technologically advanced race car and should be driven as one. The car takes some getting use to but it is a blast to drive. The power steering is a nice change, the feedback from the car and how it reacts, the brakes are great, the ABS is awesome to have as well, the suspension was similar to a SM but more advanced. The Pirelli tires were great but a little pricey!

I had so much fun racing this car, and enjoyed being part of the big show, so much so that I am working on more possibilities for the near future.

Thanks to Mike and Elaine Rossini for helping me get this opportunity and thanks to Glen and Alana Long and all at Long Road Racing for the great weekend. And to Pirelli World Challenge for making me feel so welcome. Cannot wait to do it again” ………

Jason Connole

Watch the highlights of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX GT, SprintX GT Cup, SprintX GTS, GTS/GT4, Touring Car, TCA, and TCB