After an extremely successful 2015 season that brought 11 wins, a team championship and a driver’s championship, the optimism was high going into 2016 for Tech Sport Racing.
With a larger 5 car effort, including two Chevrolet Sonics back for TCB action along with 3 Mazda Mx-5’s in TCA, and an all new driver lineup, Tech Sport’s staff and crew were optimistic. Full season driver Eric Powell was brought on to pilot the #23 TCA Mazda while Pirelli World Challenge series stalwart P.J. Groenke was signed for the #25 TCB machine along with team owner Kevin Anderson driving the #22 Mazda. The remaining cars would complete the season with a rotating lineup of excellent driver talent.
The season opener at COTA started with impressive runs from all five Tech Sport Racing cars. Eric or Drake Kemper led every test and practice session leading up to qualifying. This was a great sign of things to come for the season considering the team had never before worked with the Mazda Mx-5 platform. Eric would ultimately finish on the podium in 3rd place after having to start 15th due to a penalty in qualifying with Drake running in the lead group for much of the event as well. While Powell claimed the hard charger award from race one, he also managed to set the fastest lap of the race on his last circuit to claim the pole for race two and would lead the majority of the event and earn the best standing start award. Meanwhile the TCB duo of Groenke and Johnson had their own success racing at the front and would end up with a pair of top 5 finishes in the “new to them” cars.
Knowing the cars all had the speed capable of running up front, the season marched on. Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Mosport) saw Groenke coming to grips with the Sonic at his home track to deliver two podium finishes on the weekend with Johnson also having a very strong showing at the front. Powell’s car would finish p3 after being repaired from a series accidents in the first race of the weekend. Once again Eric would grab the Best Standing Start award and the Hard Charger award.
Only days later the team would race at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park circuit for one of the teams most successful weekends of the championship. Eric would walk away with two close second place finishes on the weekend, including fastest lap from race 2, with Anderson also finishing 3rd in both races. TCB saw PJ Groenke finish with two brilliant 3rd place finishes as well.
Wisconsin’s famed Road America circuit was another scene of some great Pirelli World Challenge racing and more exciting results for the team. Race one would see Powell leading early and running second for most of the event before having an unfortunate transmission failure on a restart with Kevin Anderson finishing a very strong 5th. Meanwhile the TCB cars of Groenke and Johnson worked with each other all race long in brilliant fashion to nail down the last two steps on the podium in 2nd and 3rd. Race 2 was much of the same in TCA with Eric challenging for the lead while running second most of the race. Groenke yet again, delivered another strong p3 podium with Johnson close behind in 4th.
Rounds 9 and 10 at Utah Motorsports campus the #24 Chevrolet would have its own new pilot in young gun Canaan O’Connell, that’s right, son of GM Racing legend Johnny O’Connell. Canaan delivered a p2 finish his first time out with P.J bringing it home for another top 5. In the meantime Powell got to work picking his way through the field to finish p4 and being awarded the best standing start and the hard charger prizes.
The season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is always a team favorite. With P.J. leading the points coming into the weekend, team spirit was high. A great start to the racing action with P.J nabbing a 3rd place finish in race 1 to keep the championship hopes alive. In TCA Eric Powell delivered the team’s first win of the year after starting 6th, taking the lead early and surviving two restarts to get the victory. Perry Richardson, a local racer, filled the #21 seat and put in an amazing drive towards the front before retiring from a fender bender while NASA Champion Warren Dexter filled in for Kevin Anderson in the #22 machine to put in a very impressive drive of his own to finish inside the top 10. Race two unfortunately saw Groenke’s championship hopes slip through his fingers when he suffered a puncture early in the going that left him one lap down. TCA was an exciting show with newcomer Richardson starting from the front row of the grid; based on his fast lap from race one before his incident. It wasn’t to be for him and he suffered a transmission failure on lap one. Powell would lead most of the race, but eventually he would end up 3rd.
All in all, it was a very successful season for the team. Although unable to match their herculean effort of 2015, sometimes it comes down to luck. Tech Sport Racing finished the season 2nd in both the TCA and TCB Team Championships. P.J. Groenke finished 2nd in the TCB drivers points, and Eric Powell 3rd in the TCA drivers points. Tech Sport drivers racked up a total of 17 podium finishes overall; 1 win, 4 second place finishes, 12 3rd place finishes, 3 fastest laps, 5 hard charger awards and 4 best standing start awards. We are extremely thrilled with those results. The team has continued to grow and we are very excited about the future.
2017 looks to be a very healthy season for Pirelli World Challenge and we will be at the leading edge of that once more. Tech Sport will have drivers competing in TCB, TCA and TC. Please contact Tech Sport for driving opportunities in 2017 and beyond any class.
About Tech Sport Racing
Tech Sport Racing, established in 2013, is a professional race team based in Long Island, New York. Founded by longtime racer Kevin Anderson and Deborah Popolizio, Tech Sport Racing won both Team and Driver Championships in the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge TCB class. Tech Sport Racing is once again poised for success in 2017 with multi-car campaigns in the TCB, TCA, TC and GTS classes. For more information on the team or associated programs please visit http://techsportracing.com/