The opening round of the 2016 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge proved to be a major milestone for CJ Wilson and its brand new GS Class Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. A front row start and a podium finish were a marked change from previous years at the world-famous Florida road course.

After a short delay caused by a refuelling issue in pit lane, Marc Miller brought the ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters Cayman home in a comfortable third place behind the Multimatic and Compass 360 Ford Mustangs. The overall horsepower and torque advantage of the two muscle cars on the flat out banking at Daytona was a little too much for the nimble, mid-engined Porsche. Having spent a number of years struggling to make the top 10 at Daytona in the ST Class Mazda MX-5, an overall podium to start the season was a very welcome result. 

The race week began well with the #33 car topping the timesheets in the early wet and damp sessions. Qualifying was also held in the rain and Danny Burkett was tasked with driving duties as he would start the race for the Austin, Texas based team. The 20 year old Manitoban put in an outstanding performance in qualifying second which totally belied his minimal GT experience.

He continued to impress during the opening stint of the two and a half hour race. It took Burkett several laps, including some under caution, to settle down but once he did, he began to put in a performance that made the whole Continental Tire paddock sit up and take notice. On lap 16 he he quickly dispatched the second place Multimatic Mustang before setting his sights on the reigning champions in the Rum Bum 911. Heading into the Western Horseshoe on Lap 19 the young Canadian displayed the skill of a seasoned veteran in passing the #13 Porsche around the outside. Burkett was now leading in his GS debut. He completed a memorable maiden sportscar stint before handing over to Marc Miller who brought the car home to give the Texan team it’s first ever GS Class podium.. 

“My first impressions of Daytona was simply a massive wow factor. The stadium atmosphere surrounding the event gives it a very different feeling from any other track I have driven at,” explained Burkett.  “In terms of performance, I’d say we almost checked all the boxes. Without our fuel woes in pitlane I think we had a real shot to compete for the overall win. My stint was so much fun. I knew the mustangs would take me in the opening laps as their straight-line speed heavily favoured them at Daytona. It was a pleasure to be racing with such talented drivers, and I was happy to be able to lead some laps in my debut.”

Miller was more than impressed with his teammate and the new car. “Overall we had a great week. We showed great pace in the wet conditions and were fastest or among the fastest in every session.” The Holland, Michigan resident is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season, “we still have a ways to go, but I feel Danny and I are gelling well as teammates and the team is really quickly coming to grips with the new Cayman GT4 Clubsport package. We have high hopes heading into Sebring but we know it will take a lot of hard work to get where we need to be.”

ONE Capital Management’s Managing Director, Brad Barrett, was delighted with the season opener. “We were absolutely thrilled to see Danny take the lead in the ONE Capital Cayman. This partnership is only weeks old and it is already turning a lot of heads. The entire team is top tier and we're incredibly pleased with our partnership with CJ Wilson Racing.”

For team owner, CJ Wilson, Round one at Daytona answered a lot of questions. “The big unknown was Danny and how he would adapt to GT cars coming from a Formula car background,” explained the two time MLB All-Star. “This was his first closed cockpit race. He had driven in a coupe of PC events but the reality is that driving with a roof can be slightly disorienting especially on the banking at Daytona as visibility is cut down a lot. But he did great, he made a couple of great passes and settled into a rhythm putting in a good hour in the car before handing it off to Marc with us in a really good position.”

“Marc got in the car and had to manage the fuel a little but we got some yellows and closed up the gap to the leaders, but at the end of the day the Mustangs had a little bit more power than we did and they had a more torque coming out of the slow corners on the infield. Their fastest laps were a little bit better than ours and we weren’t able to race them all the way to the end but we still managed to finish within a couple of seconds.” The left-handers expectations were well and truly met and he believes the future for the #33 ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters car is a bright one. “As a debut race for the car before any BOP adjustments or anything like that we feel really fantastic about the car both in terms of where we are right now and what we can achieve in 2016.”

Round two of the 2016 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge takes place on Friday, March 18th at 1:05pm EST at the legendary Sebring International Raceway in central Florida. 

Declan Brennan