Leading up to the third round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, the eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing Audi R8s took to Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course early on for some much needed testing. Leaving confidently, they headed into the official race weekend knowing they had the cars to dominate.
During the Promoter test day, the #2 Audi R8 looked strong in the GS field needing only minor tweaks to the set-up in preparation for a potential rain race. In the first official free practice, Koch put down the fastest lap of the session. The intimidation factor of this driver pairing grew with every passing session - just what the team needed after a slow start to their season. With the changing conditions throughout the day, the #2 car sat out of the second practice having used that time to focus on a live driver change practice.
Race day drew some imminent weather. Beginning with an early morning qualifying, Tyler's co-driver, Kenton Koch, betting on the rain, drove his way to the front placing their #2 Audi R8 GT4 on pole for the start of the race! The duo were ready to shine this time around, hunting for their first podium of the season. Koch lead the race for most of his stint, holding his ground through a rather intense battle with the #75 McLaren 570S GT4 of Compass Racing. With only 55 minutes remaining the #2 Audi R8 GT4 came in for a driver change - Cooke jumped in ready to finish what his co-driver started. With a near perfect pit stop, Cooke exited the pits under full course yellow sitting in 5th for the restart. A call made shortly after had Cooke re-entering the pits for an added stop to switch over to rain tires. Due to an unforeseen issue, this second stop would ultimately cost Cooke ground entering into a restart unpacked from the lead lap cars. Still hopeful, the eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing team bet on the rain being in their favour. Cooke, running fastest on track, hunted down positions looking for a podium. Cooke moved quickly up to 9th from 13th after the restart. Unfortunately, gapped by lapdown cars and the lack of rain, Cooke ultimately finished the race in 8th. In a race that relied heavily on strategy, remaining on a slick compound was the choice to make. In a 50/50 shot the weather was against the eEuroparts.com team but they remain optimistic as they accomplished another top-ten finish and snatched some much needed points. More importantly, the #2 car is on the radar - it's a force to be reckoned with and this duo should not be underestimated.
Cooke would like to thank the ROWE Motor Oil USA team for their immense support this weekend! He would also like to thank IMSA and Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course for the opportunity to spend time with the Mid-Ohio Rookie Racers group. Some much needed laughs on a hectic race day is always appreciated!
Missed the action in round 3? Set your DVRs on NBCSN for the broadcast of the Mid-Ohio 120 on Saturday May 12th from 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM EDT.
Ready for more? Follow Tyler Cooke and the eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing team as they take on Round 4 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday June 29th!