SEBRING, Florida (March 19, 2016) – Will Hardeman took another major step toward front-of-the-pack performance with Moorespeed in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA by Yokohama competition this week at Sebring International Raceway where he finished sixth on Thursday and ran as high as second on Friday after making a pair of key passes in the top three in the race’s opening laps.
The season-opening Sebring doubleheader, March 17 – 18, marked the one-year anniversary of Hardeman’s first ever professional race after debuting in IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup in this event last year.
After qualifying sixth on Thursday morning in the No. 19 WPD/Moorespeed Porsche GT3 Cup, Hardeman went on to finish in the same position later that afternoon in Round 1. It was Friday’s finale, however, that saw Hardeman make a clear statement to the competition that he will be a lead-pack contender in 2016.
Rolling off from fourth on the grid, Hardeman nailed the start and pulled off a daring, outside pass for third place as the field charged into turn one for the first time.
“We did OK on the initial jump of green,” Hardeman said. “I saw the leaders start to back up in front of me in the braking zone of turn one and I drove around the outside of them and gained one position.”
That was only the beginning of Hardeman’s highlight reel, however, and a few laps later he pulled alongside the second place car on Sebring’s front straight to setup a successful and decisive pass for that position in turn one.
Both Hardeman and Moorespeed President, David Moore, are quick to give part of the credit for Hardeman’s progress behind the wheel to team driver coach, Earl Bamber, the Le Mans-winning Porsche factory driver who was competing in today’s 12 Hours of Sebring.
“Working with Earl Bamber this weekend I think we had another driving breakthrough,” Hardeman said. “Earl has been trying to convey to me throughout the season how to carry more speed in corner entry and up to the apex of a turn. I’ve changed up my driving style and it is paying dividends on the race track right now.”
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Both Moore and Bamber coached Hardeman to be a little more aggressive after Thursday’s first race.
“In race two the plan was to go out and capitalize on any opportunities I had, be a little bit more aggressive, push harder, and that was the last thing Earl told me when I got in the car, to just push hard man, and that’s what I did,” Hardeman said. “I seized opportunities when I saw them, hence the pass that I made in turn one on the second-place guy, and it was a great clean pass, one of the best I’ve ever made probably.”
Despite the early-race heroics, Hardeman ultimately finished 12th in the top-tier GT3 Platinum class after quickly recovering from a pair of spins.
“I had pretty clean air running in second until I had a mental lapse and bobbled the exit of turn 17 where I spun the car,” Hardeman said. “I think I had a little too much entry speed and got off into the crud that’s on the outside of the turn. Then the car just would not cooperate on the exit and it was really hard to stay out of the wall. I spun the car twice, got moving again and after that it was a little bit different race, but overall the first half of the race was a real glimmer of hope for me and we’re going to build on that success for the rest of the season.”
Hardeman is starting just his second season of professional racing and has only been competing at any level for less than two years.
“The thing about Will that most people don’t realize is that he’s only been doing this for a short time,” Moore said. “I mean, 18 months, but he’s gotten extremely fast, he’s faster than most of the guys who are out there but he doesn’t have the race craft yet. He’s getting there and every time he goes out he learns something new in the art of passing and how to take advantage of situations and how to capitalize when others make mistakes.”
Up next for Hardeman and Moorespeed are Rounds 3 and 4 of the championship, April 29 – May 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
“I am looking forward to the next race at Laguna Seca,” Moore said. “Will did really well at Laguna last year. We’ve already started talking about it, that we’ve got a little bit of time to prepare, we’ve got good video, good data from last year. We had Earl helping us there again. Will did some really good laps and probably had his most consistent race at the end of the year last year. Coming off Pirelli World Challenge two weeks ago, coming to Sebring and running up front – it would have been nice to have a better finish – but it was very positive what happened. We have a learning experience from it, we’ll go into Laguna and I think people in the paddock will talk about Will being a contender for the podium now.”
Based in Austin, Texas, Moorespeed is a full-service automotive company specializing in sales, service, repairs and restoration of luxury sports cars and competition on the track in numerous North American road racing series. Founded in 1991 in Austin by brothers David and Chris Moore, Moorespeed offers comprehensive, turn-key service in which people are just as important as parts and relationships are just as vital as results. Moorespeed’s road racing programs are designed for all skill levels, and driver development, both on and off the track, is a Moorespeed specialty. Dave Moore and General Manager Price Cobb, winner of the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans, welcome and work with every racing customer as a member of the Moorespeed family while Winslow Mankin brings the same dedication and passion in his role as Street Department Service Manager. Moorespeed is all about the passion for high-performance automobiles and the people who drive them. A commitment to personal service and performance permeates every corner of the company. Learn more atwww.moorespeed.com
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On-Track Picture Courtesy of PCNA/Bob Chapman