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Hardeman Takes Incredible Journey from Track Day to Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama 599 408 MOORESPEED

Hardeman Takes Incredible Journey from Track Day to Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama

IMSA News Release

Will Hardeman sat with David Moore in a passenger sports car a year ago at Circuit of the Americas in their hometown of Austin, Texas. Hardeman and his father, whose family runs a successful auto dealership group in Austin, received an opportunity to drive their sports cars at speed around the COTA circuit during a charity event. Hardeman asked his friend Moore, owner of an Austin-based vintage, racing and exotic preparation shop and race team Moorespeed, to join him to offer tips.

They had a blast, thrashing the car around the circuit at a brisk pace behind a pace car. It was Hardeman’s first experience in a performance car on a racetrack, and he relished it. But he had no dreams of competition. “I thought that was as good as it got,” Hardeman said of his charity track day.

Moore had other ideas. At higher speeds, Hardeman’s driving lines weren’t tidy. His braking and throttle application weren’t smooth. But Moore knows talent, and he saw something different in Hardeman. Something special.

“David said, ‘You know what? If you want to pursue this … You’re not doing any of the right stuff now, but I can tell there might be a diamond in the rough here,’” Hardeman said. “At least, we’ve got something to work with. He said, ‘I liked what you’re trying to do here, and I think we can take this and clean up your driving a lot, and you would definitely be a competitor, a force to be reckoned with, in IMSA.’He was talking one of these days, maybe two or three years.”

Try nine months. Hardeman, 33, persevered and learned through a warp-speed, intense regimen of training and testing in race cars with Moore, Moorespeed general manager and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Price Cobb, and International Motor Sports Association TUDOR United SportsCar Championship standouts Andy Lally and Darren Law. Hardeman made his full-season racing debut this March in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama at Sebring International Raceway, driving the No. 19 Wholesale Parts Direct (WPD)/Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the Platinum Cup class.

The rapid journey from a fun track day to lining up in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama almost didn’t happen for Hardeman. He always has been around cars since he started working his family’s dealerships at age 13. Hardeman and his father even talked about going racing to Moore after seeing events in 2013 at COTA, with Moore trying to steer them into the proper development series.

 

Will Hardeman and David Moore

Will Hardeman, left, and Moorespeed owner David Moore analyzing data and video together. Their close relationship has been instrumental in Hardeman’s rapid development as a race driver.

But Will Hardeman also knew racing required a major time commitment needed to devote to the craft of learning about the mechanical aspects of the car, technique and racecraft. Those are skills usually developed over years and decades, not months.

“That was the whole reason I never even dipped my toe,” Hardeman said. “I said, ‘I don’t have the time, and I don’t really want to go through that long road through all the schools all over the country.’ You’ve got to go through years of whatever two or three series until you get to Porsche Cup. I was thinking that could be five or 10 years down the road, and I have other things in my life I want to pursue.”

But the Hardemans and Moore continued to talk about fusing the dream and reality of racing. Last July, Moore told Will Hardeman’s father that Moorespeed had a lightly used Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Platinum Cup car available if his son was serious about going racing with the team.

Still, Will Hardeman had initial doubts. Then a quick spell of soul-searching changed his heart and mind. “My first reaction was: ‘Hey, I’m not ready for this. I’m way over my head. I can’t do this,'” Hardeman said. “Once the process popped into my head, I thought:

‘In 20 years, I’m going to more regret the things I didn’t do in life rather than the things I did do. And this is exactly the type of opportunity I need to take while I’m young and can learn things fast and am able-bodied and I can do this.'”

Game on. But the hard work was just beginning. The initial plan was to prepare Will Hardeman to make his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama debut last September during the Lone Star Le Mans at his home track, COTA.

Moore, with help from Cobb, Lally and Law, started a magical motorsports tour of testing with Hardeman all over the southern third of the United States last summer and early fall. They turned laps at COTA, the Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving and Road Atlanta, realizing the plan to be ready for COTA was a bit too ambitious.

Still, the work continued full speed. The training was a crash course. Literally, at times.

Hardeman had two major moments of doubt during the process, induced by crunched body work on his Porsche. He spun off at COTA in early August during his first proper test in his Platinum Cup car.

“It was a very, very minor incident but enough to shake my confidence,” Hardeman said. “I was wondering if the sport was right for me if this is going to happen a lot. You just have to get that out of your head. Price, David and Andy were there, and they’ve all had an illustrious career of wrecking cars in much more grandiose fashion. They said to get back in the saddle. That’s part of it.”

That confidence boost helped Hardeman get back on track for a test just before Labor Day at Road Atlanta, sharing the track with factory prototype and GT cars. Coaching and a pep talk from his racing mentors helped Hardeman avoid intimidation even though he was the slowest driver on the track.

And Hardeman’s zeal to rebound from the COTA incident and learn quickly caused him to watch and follow the racing lines of higher-performance machinery during the test. He followed a prototype into the fast, daunting Turn 1 at Road Atlanta and learned quickly that purpose-built race car had far more downforce than his production-based 911 GT3 Cup car.

Hardeman put two wheels off the grass and hit the tire barrier exiting Turn 1, damaging his car and confidence again.

But once again, Hardeman dug deep in his mind and used technical tips and confidence boosting from Moore and his other teachers to return to the seat, focused on his goal of becoming a race driver.

Those initial setbacks taught an important trait of motorsports Hardeman admits he didn’t understand before he started driving.

“The biggest thing that I underestimated about racing is how mentally demanding it is,” Hardeman said. “Your mind and your brain is a muscle, just like any other muscle in your body. You condition it to the mental demands of racing.

“At first, when you’re a guy off the street, you get into a race car for 15 minutes, and you are worn out for the rest of the day. Your mind is tired, and you don’t know what’s wrong with you. Even though you’ve got an eight-hour test day that you signed up for, after 30 minutes your mind has turned to mush. You can hardly work on anything productive, but you keep on pounding out those laps. That’s how I felt for probably the first four or five months.

“It got better and better. When you mind is mush like that, you’re not comfortable with the car yet. Driving a car at speed is not downloaded into the subconscious yet like it is with a pro who has had 20 years behind the wheel.”

Hardeman competed in a race for the first time in November at Daytona International Speedway. He showed the first glimpse of fulfilling the faith Moore showed in him during his COTA track day by winning his class in a one-hour HSR Historics race.

When Hardeman jumped on the podium to accept his trophy, the track public address announcer asked him for his racing background. Hardeman told the announcer this was his first race and first day at a competitive event. The announcer went silent, thinking Hardeman misunderstood the question.

Hardeman continued to test throughout the end of 2014 in various machines, learning and honing his craft. He also participated in the promoter test day before Petit Le Mans last fall at Road Atlanta, in the IMSA test in February 2015 at NOLA Motorsports Park and competed in another series in early March 2015 at COTA, preparing for his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama debut two weeks later at Sebring.

His goals were simple: Running in the top 10 in the Platinum Cup in one of the most competitive of Porsche’s 20 single-make series around the world.

At Sebring, small mistakes and racing incidents dropped Hardeman toward the rear of the field in both races. But he ripped off some of the quickest laps of any driver in the field to rally to finishes of 15th and 12th, respectively. He also finished 12th in treacherous, wet conditions in early April at NOLA after turning the fourth-quickest time overall in practice.

Once Hardeman had time to reflect this spring on his incredible progress, he wasted no time setting new goals. Hardeman no longer is content with mid-pack or even top-10 results. He is aiming toward the top of the grid and would like to finish the season with three Platinum Cup podium finishes.

He still has miles to go, plenty to learn. But Moore, Cobb, Lally and Law have helped Hardeman do almost the impossible in racing, flattening a nearly vertical learning curve in almost record time.

“David and Price are the best in the business,” Hardeman said. “They are giving me so much personal attention. Their level of service is better than anything I’ve seen, even in my business.

“Price with his experience, he’s like Yoda. He will teach you so many things with fewer words. With Darren Law and Andy Lally, one cool thing is they’re world-class drivers, but I’ve worked with both of them so much over the last nine months. That’s a huge part of my success. I wouldn’t be in IMSA right now if I wasn’t working with Darren and Andy.

“They all have provided me with the setup, the equipment and the opportunity that is perfect. My success is now completely on me.”

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama enters its 11th season in 2015 as one of the largest of Porsche’s 20 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic race car, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Austin Racer Will Hardeman
With little experience, Austin racer sweeps Pirelli GT3 Cup weekend at Circuit of The Americas 630 449 MOORESPEED

With little experience, Austin racer sweeps Pirelli GT3 Cup weekend at Circuit of The Americas

Written by DAVE DOOLITTLE

It was a perfect weekend for Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA driver Will Hardeman.

The 33-year-old from Austin, Texas, swept both races in his WPD/Moorespeed Porsche 911 at Circuit of The Americas, winning the first race by almost 35 seconds and taking the second victory Sunday in rainy conditions.

What’s more impressive is that Hardeman has only been driving racecars for about seven months and was competing for the first time at Circuit of The Americas.

“The thing is I’ve been watching people race here enough, and I know the right guys to talk to that know the track, that have turned more laps than anyone and the pros that have run the fastest times,” Hardeman said Sunday afternoon.

“This is my first race at COTA but I’m from Austin, I’m no stranger to the track.”

Hardeman comes from an automotive family and continues to work full-time at Continental Automotive Group (Austin Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz of Austin, First Texas Honda, Austin Subaru, Continental Collision and WPD “Wholesale Parts Direct”.

He started to consider becoming a race driver after driving Circuit of The Americas during a charity event in April. Team principal David Moore rode a few laps with Hardeman then and was impressed with what he saw.

“David said, ‘You’re not driving the right line or anything, but I can tell you like to drive fast and there might be something here,’ ” Hardeman said of those first laps. “He kept on bugging me about it, saying, ‘We should probably look at going racing, you might have something.’ He kept on bugging me about it until finally we broke down and said, ‘OK, we’ll let’s try this.’

Once the decision was made to go racing, Hardeman bought a used 911 GT3 and went to work. Moore said he started with education, sending Hardeman to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving outside of Phoenix. From there it moved on to track time and advice from professional racers like Darren Law and Andy Lally.

Hardeman’s first experience at Circuit of the Americas was in August, and it was clear he had a lot to learn. “The first time we were at COTA I think Andy and I made him crash because we were pushing him so hard,” Moore said. “I came off the track and tapped the wall,” Hardeman said. “That was my first experience with COTA.”

The coming months saw more track time and race experience, including competing in Historic Racing Series races in Daytona and Sebring in November and December, scoring victories and podiums along the way. “Frankly he had a lot more competition that weekend than he did this weekend,” Moore said of the Daytona event. “There were a lot of pro teams that were there getting ready for the 24 Hours of Daytona.”

In between, Hardeman was testing at tracks around the United States, getting more and more comfortable with pushing the car beyond his comfort zone.

“Part of this whole education is the lingo of how to communicate back and forth between the driver and the engineers on what the car’s doing,” Moore said. “We did a test back in December at MSR Houston for two days and that’s all we did: We would make a change, Will would go into the car and then we had Darren Law go into the car right behind him. But they wouldn’t talk to each other — they would write notes on what the car did and then we would compare notes: Sway bars, wings, ride height, all those types of changes.

“That was probably the turning point in his driving abilities,” Moore said. “To be able to convey what the car was doing and understand that you just don’t get in a car and drive fast.”

Hardeman said this weekend was the first time he truly felt comfortable in a racecar, even under wet conditions Sunday.

“What’s funny is my lap times back then in August were what I was running in the rain today, and I thought I was fast and out of control at a 2-and-a-half minute lap back in August,” Hardeman said. “I just focused on learning the wet lines, staying in the marbles and really avoiding the paint at all costs. The way I was driving it was a little bit smoother in the rain and conservative, but it was still good enough to take home a win, and that’s all that counts.”

Hardeman will be racing this season in IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA, starting in Sebring from March 18 to 20.

“I have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do, but I’m coming in with good momentum and a positive attitude,” Hardeman said. “IMSA is kind of the end of the road. If I can dominate there, we’ll see where it goes when we get there.”

Check out Dave Doolittle’s Blogs at Circuit of the Americas http://circuitoftheamericas.com/blog

Will Hardeman #19
Hardeman & #19 WPD/Moorespeed Qualify P1 again and win Race # 2 in the rain soaked Circuit of the Americas on Sunday 630 408 MOORESPEED

Hardeman & #19 WPD/Moorespeed Qualify P1 again and win Race # 2 in the rain soaked Circuit of the Americas on Sunday

Will Hardeman capped off a perfect weekend for the hometown crowd at COTA by taking the Pole in both qualifying sessions on Saturday and Sunday and then leading from start to finish in both races for the double header victory.

Sunday the WPD/Moorespeed team arrived to COTA in a rainstorm. Morning practice was cancelled by officials. Qualifying for Race 2 was very wet.

Hardeman who had never driven in the rain before used the first half of qualifying to get the feel of the car. When Moorespeed’s David Moore told him “Its time to get with the program” he delivered instantly again qualifying P1.

Will went on to victory with a margin of over 10 seconds to the second and third place cars of IMSA regulars.

The team heads to Sebring with great momentum for the IMSA GT3 Cup season held in conjunction with the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Watch Race #2 on YouTube
compliments of Competent Motorsports

991 sebring
LAZARE FOURTH IN PORSCHE GT3 CUP SEASON OPENER 300 250 MOORESPEED

LAZARE FOURTH IN PORSCHE GT3 CUP SEASON OPENER

Strong drive for Canadian teenager at Sebring

Original article courtesy IMSA:

SEBRING, FL – Canadian racer, 16-year-old Jesse Lazare from Montreal, Quebec made his 2014 racing debut this past weekend at the historic 12 Hours of Sebring. Lazare, at the controls of his new www.doordoctor.com  / Garaga sponsored 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Platinum class car impressed in practice.

“We got this car on Monday,” Lazare said of his new Moorespeed prepared 991. “There is a lot to learn – and very little time to do it.” Lazare was stunningly quick right out of the box in his new mount.

“Jesse tested here in the 997 a couple of weeks ago, so I expected him to be quick in practice with the new car,” Moorespeed’s Price Cobb said.  At the end of the two series test session, Lazare was 2ndfastest.

A misunderstanding in qualifying concerning the Yokohama tires meant that Lazare couldn’t show his true speed in the qualifying session, where he ended up 14th. “Not what I hoped for,” the Canadian youngster said. “But sometimes these things happen, so we have to move on. What I do know is that I will have a good car for the race,” Lazare added.

At the start of the race, Lazare took a few laps to settle in. He originally dropped from 14th to 16th, but then he found his legs, and in true Lazare form – to the front he went.  Lazare methodically picked off drivers one at a time. “This is the first time I drove a GT car, so the racing is way different from what I am used to. I needed a few laps to settle in, but then I got going.”  Soon Lazare was in the top 10, then the top 5, and set to challenge for a podium. As the checkered flag fell, Lazare was on the rear bumper of the 3rd place car – he finished fourth.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Lazare said of the race. “My Door Doctor/Garaga sponsored Porsche doesn’t have a mark on it, and we were so close to a podium. I want to thank Price Cobb and the Moorespeed crew for a great car. Also, thanks to my other sponsors Yokohama and Sparco, who are supporting me this year.”

Cobb was equally happy with his young charge’s performance. “When I signed up to help Jesse, I knew from what I’d been told and had seen in earlier results that he was a talented guy. The after testing knew it to be the case. Today his performance cemented that for me – what a great drive. He has remarkable situational awareness and his ability to make on track racing choices belie his age.  The rest of the season with him will be one heck-of-a-ride”

Lazare will now prepare for the next rounds of the 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Championship at Laguna Seca.

Jesse Lazare Quick Facts: Jesse Lazare is a 16-year-old racer from Montreal, Quebec. For 2014, Lazare competes with Moorespeed in the 2014 Porsche GT3 Cup Series in the USA and select races in Canada. In 2013, Lazare scored two podiums in USF2000 championship for Pabst Racing Services. In FF1600, Lazare competed in 16 races. He amassed five wins and seven podiums, including winning the CAN-AM CUP in the Canadian FF1600 Championship. One of his podium finishes was part of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix weekend in FF1600. Lazare is also a three-time Canadian National Karting Champion. In 2011 he was the Canadian Junior Rotax Max National Champion and he represented Canada at the Rotax Max World Finals. In 2012, he captured his third Canadian National Championship, this time in Rotax Max Senior and again he represented Canada at the Rotax Max World Finals.

Away from the track, Lazare enjoys skiing and hockey, and he attends Lindsay Place High School, (Pointe Claire, Quebec ). For more information on Jesse Lazare, visit www.jesselazare.com, or his ‘fans of Jesse Lazare on Facebook page.

Jesse Lazare is supported by Door Doctor, www.doordoctor.com Garaga, Yokohama Canada and Sparco USA

– See more at: http://www.imsa.com/articles/lazare-fourth-porsche-gt3-cup-season-opener#sthash.VyDQXwFl.dpuf
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