Leaving Road Atlanta with a first place finish and ultimately clinching 3rd in the CTSC Championship was a hell of a way to kick off Cooke’s off-season. But as quickly as the high of the weekend built, it also left. The off-season is a phase of time when drivers go into contract negotiation, often looking at other teams, announcing these changes and solidifying sponsorships for the upcoming season. For Cooke, this is exactly what his off-season looked like. On Oct 14th, the day after Road Atlanta, Cooke prepared himself for the whirlwind of an off-season knowing fully that his contract was running down and would need to look into new offers to sign.
The off-season is filled with day-in and day-out phone calls, teleconferences and email chains with team owners, managers and marketing divisions. Not unlike any other driver looking for a ride, Cooke set on his way contacting teams to demonstrate his interest; while also working with his old team on a potential deal. When your next season depends on barely a month’s time to come to an agreement and sign a deal, things can get quite hectic. On the heels of an impressive 2018 season, Cooke dove in, pursuing different GT4 programs for a new seat. Fortunately for him, eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing was equally as interested in him as he was in their program. After a few weeks of negotiation, the contract was finalized and the press release was live – “Cooke makes switch to eEuroparts GT4” plastered IMSA.com and other news outlets.
Just like that a month of the off-season was gone and Cooke was prepping for his new ride in 2019. This was the calm before the storm. Straight out of signing, Cooke dove head first into a month long of winter testing both with his new team, eEuroparts, here in North America and overseas for a GT3 program. Within 2 weeks, Cooke headed to Atlanta to begin testing the Audi R8 LMS GT4. While some bad weather put the team back, two days later you found them testing at Daytona International Speedway at the Michelin test. That same night, Cooke caught his flight and was off to Portugal to the infamous Algarve International Circuit to meet-up with Phoenix Racing. The next two days were spent with the Nordschleife-based team testing both their GT3 and GT4 R8s. A quick turnaround sent Cooke home just in time for the holidays where he had a week before heading back down to Daytona to test again with eEuroparts at the Roar before the 24. Now here we are – a week out from the first round of the new Michelin Pilot Challenge. The excitement of the off-season has only built up that for the new season.
The first round of the MPC will kick off on January 25th 2019 at Daytona International Speedway with the 4-hour BMW Endurance Challenge. For live timing and scoring check out www.scoring.imsa.com. For Broadcast information check out www.imsa.com.