Colin Mullan: A New Opportunity

Written by Team USA. Posted in Colin Mullan, Driver Blogs, Feature

Published on June 15, 2019 with No Comments

DANBURY, Calif. — Two weeks ago, on May 31, I got the call that Andretti Autosport needed a co-driver for Jarett Andretti in the GT4 America SprintX races at Sonoma Raceway. The only problem was that the race was only one week away. Of course, I wanted to move forward, so my family and I scrambled to get all the necessary paperwork ready for the weekend. SRO Motorsports, the series’ governing body, required both an FIA and a USAC license, neither of which I had.

Despite the potential setbacks, I was ready to hit the track on Thursday for testing.

This was my first time behind the wheel of a GT4 spec car, the McLaren 570S. The McLaren is based strongly on the street version of the car, so it still has many electronic driver assists including traction control, ABS and electronic speed control. In a way, it’s more similar to the MINI I raced in IMSA last year, compared to the purpose-built L.A. Honda World TCR. I had to re-learn how to drive around some of the electronic assists, compared to maximizing their use with the Honda.

Thursday testing went well, proving to be a good opportunity for me to learn the car and get acclimated with SRO’s mashup of different Sonoma layouts. Despite the strange layout, it was great to be back at my home track. I live around 40 minutes away but haven’t raced there in nearly two years, since the IndyCar weekend in 2017.

The McLaren was surprisingly easy to get up to speed in. I ended up third fastest in the final practice out of all GT4 cars, Sprint and SprintX combined. We were quick in the short runs but we were skeptical of our long-run consistency with the tire degradation.

Qualifying was decent but we had hoped for a little better. I qualified fifth for Race One and Jarett qualified seventh for Race Two. The plan was for me to start Race One, hand it off to Jarett halfway through, and vice versa for the second race of the weekend.

The first race took place at 5:30 on Saturday evening, but temperatures were still around 85 degrees. We knew the heat would lead to a dramatic tire fall-off, so the beginning of the race was all about managing the pace. I started fifth and was able to slot into fourth position for most of my 30-minute stint. I took it easy, keeping pace with the cars in front while defending from behind. I handed the car over to Jarett, who kept the position for the rest of the race. Although my race wasn’t too eventful, Jarett had a rough run to the end. He got hit twice, the later one sending him through the dirt in Turn Nine. Luckily, he was able to hold onto his position, putting us fourth overall and second in the Pro-Am class.

Race Two was on Sunday afternoon, at 2:30. Temperature was now above 93 degrees. We knew tire degradation would be much worse with the heat, but it was just something we had to manage. Jarett got a good start from seventh, moving into fifth fairly quickly. He stayed there, saving tires as I did in Race One. We had a great driver change, ending up just over the minimum stop time. I was fourth by the time all pit stop rotations had cycled and made a pass for third into Turn One around the outside before starting to chase down second. Unfortunately, I may have pushed a bit too hard at the start, even if I thought I was driving conservatively. The tires dramatically fell off with about 15 minutes left, so instead of pushing to grab the next position, I had to switch to defending. I really struggled to get traction on power in second-gear corners, but in the end I was able to hold on to third overall and win our class!

I really had a great time with my debut GT4 weekend. Being able to race my home track again, especially in a McLaren, was really special. I got on great with the whole Andretti team and learned a lot along the way. I really hope to be back in the McLaren for the next race in Portland!

On a separate note, I’m very excited to have released my brand new website with Antistatic Design! Feel free to check it out at www.ColinMullan.com.

Colin

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