• 2024/06/08

FTG Racing Sebring Challenges

Coming off double podium at Sonoma, the CorkSport Mazda3 Turbo team came to Sebring with a combination of momentum, cautious optimism, and worry. The 3.7-mile Sebring racecourse, created on the site of a WW2 Bomber Training base, is known to be one of the roughest and toughest tracks in the world. Any weakness of the new car could potentially be exposed, but with the long straight sections the Mazda3 Turbo would have room to see how the CorkSport Turbo system would stack up.

After showing solid results in both the test and practice sessions, the team looked forward to seeing where they stood when it was starting to count. After the short 15-minute session was over, Joey Jordan put the Mazda 3 in a solid 3rd starting position, only .053 of a second behind 2nd place. Unfortunately, as Jordan finished qualifying, he sensed something was wrong and gave the team an update that something was wrong.

Quickly the team diagnosed a problem with the left front damper. “We had supply problems getting the damper parts we wanted,” explained CorkSport owner Derrick Ambrose. “The dampers on the car were designed for tracks other than Sebring’s “craters of the moon racing surface”.

The newness of the car, combined with previously mentioned supply problems, meant the team did not have a spare. For a few minutes it looked like they would withdraw their entry, until driver Jordan suggested a potential work around “Let’s try to run the car on just packers and bump stops on the left front.” I think I can manage it, and at least get some points. Ambrose and team agreed to give it a shot, with strict instructions to Jordan to not risk the car or anyone else’s race if the car was too difficult to handle.

With just minutes to spare, the CorkSport Mazda3 Turbo took the grid. Half way around the pace lap, Jordan radioed in that the car felt good enough to try, and with the green Jordan quickly moved up from third to second and started a 3 way battle for the lead. “The car was not perfect, but the first few laps the car worked pretty well.”

Unfortunately, as the race progressed, the temporary fix to the front end stated to deteriorate and Jordan slowly fell back. “I tried to hold on as long as possible, but soon it was apparent that my goal needed to be a finish and whatever points I could salvage,” said Jordan. He fell back to an eventual 5th place in the TC class.

The team worked hard to come up with a better fix for the damper for race two on Sunday. Using improvised parts due to the lack of spares due to supply issues, the team put the car back on track Sunday starting in the 4th position. Quickly it became apparent that the repairs were not going to hold, so again Jordan and team were faced with another tough race. In the end, another top 5 and more learning for the team.

“Most people probably would not believe me, but once I knew that the front end still had a problem, I used the race as a learning opportunity, and it was actually fun. I have done some testing in off road race cars and used those skills to help me figure out the fast way around the track with the problems we had. It wore me out, but it was fun too,” reflected Jordan. CorkSport’s Ambrose reflected on the weekend with some positive views. “If someone had told me before Sonoma that after 4 races, we would finish all 4 with top 5 finishes I would have been ecstatic. The two podiums at Sonoma might have set our expectations too high for Sebring, but we did cut the gap to the leader’s pole time and the car has been very solid. The CorkSport parts are all performing well, and we value racing to both learn and demonstrate the quality of our products”.

Text and photos Text and photos from CorkSport


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