After earning a pair of victories in the Asia Pacific Ferrari Challenge event at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan, EMS Race Team returns to action on U.S. soil later this month. From April 8-10, driver James Weiland and the crew from Boardwalk Ferrari will look to build on their early season momentum at the Sonoma Raceway in California. This highly anticipated event marks the 11th consecutive year that Sonoma has hosted the Ferrari Challenge North American Series.
“Our goal as a team is to always get better,” Weiland said. “We accomplished some things in Japan that we are certainly proud of, but that’s behind us now. Sonoma Raceway is an exciting track that presents its own set of unique challenges. We also know that we haven’t broken through to win at Sonoma yet. So we’re focused on doing everything we can to be as prepared as possible for the stiff competition, and using this as another opportunity to improve as a team.”
Unlike his inaugural trip to Suzuka in March, Weiland and his coach, Conrad Grunewald, will be able to draw on past experience in preparation for Sonoma. This is a track EMS Race Team has competed on before, finishing second as recently as last May. This year, however, Weiland hopes to raise awareness for PETA Cruelty Free and the Cornerstone of Hope by leaving California with a victory—or two.
“Last year we had mixed results in Sonoma,” Weiland added. “While we did earn a podium finish during Race 1, we also experienced a setback that prevented us from finishing Race 2. It will be great to get back out there with a fresh start, learn from our previous trips, and put forward our best effort all weekend long.”
Despite Weiland’s experience at Sonoma, this time he will be driving a different car than in years past. Paris, the ems+ 458 Ferrari Challenge EVO who made her debut at the Daytona International Speedway earlier this year, will be unleashed for the first time at Sonoma. In 2015, it was Paris’ sister, Erin, who roared through the hills of wine country for EMS Race Team. It was also Erin who helped fuel the recent victories in Japan. But like her older sister, Paris will also be proudly waving the flag for the two charities close to Weiland’s heart throughout the competition.
“It was great to be in Japan and talk with the drivers, fans and media about PETA Cruelty Free and the Cornerstone of Hope,” Weiland said about the two causes that fuel the fight for EMS Race Team. “Heading back to Sonoma, we hope to do the same thing. Nothing catches people’s attention more than winning, so we hope to raise as much awareness as possible for both efforts during our trip.”
By Brendan Bowers, Posted by SB
For updates throughout the Ferrari Challenge weekend in Sonoma, along with live-timing race results, follow @EMSRaceTeam on Twitter and Facebook. Also be sure to check out EMS Race Team’s Vimeo Page for behind-the-scenes action following the competition.
After traveling over 6,000 miles to the world famous Suzuka Circuit in Japan, EMS Race Team driver James Weiland found himself in a classic duel. During Race 1 of the Asia Pacific Ferrari Challenge, fellow driver Eric Cheung of Canada had gotten off to a great start and spent the majority of the afternoon battling Weiland for the top spot in the Pirelli AM class. But Erin, the EMS Race Team Ferrari Challenge 458 EVO, pushed just hard enough to eventually secure a victory that kicked off a whirlwind weekend.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel here and compete in the Asia Pacific Ferrari Challenge,” Weiland told the media following the race. “Suzuka is one of the best circuits in the world. It was exciting for our team to compete here and we really enjoyed our time in Japan. I can’t thank my coaches and crew enough for their preparation and the work they did to put us in position to earn a 1st place finish. It was a total team effort.”
It took every ounce of that collective effort to hold off Cheung, who finished less than one second behind Weiland’s No. 18 car. Additionally, with over 20,000 competitive kilometers logged on her dashboard entering the weekend, Erin struggled with her rear traction as she weaved through the windy course at Suzuka. At times, she was difficult to manage and maneuver. But when it came down to the final stretch, Erin roared liked the first day she rolled off the lot in Maranello en route to the win.
“The Boardwalk Ferrari crew did a tremendous job preparing Erin to race in Japan,” Weiland added. “We drove our new car, Paris, exclusively at Daytona but needed to go back to Erin this weekend as we tweaked some things. Dating back to the Finali Mondali in Italy last year, this is the second-straight event that Erin helped us earn a victory outside the United States. So we might be calling on her again the next time we compete overseas.”
As exciting as the outcome of Race 1 was for the team, attention quickly shifted to Sunday. Coach Conrad Grunewald helped Weiland analyze his performance and prepare for an even better run in Race 2 throughout the evening. Meanwhile, Ryan Negri, David Cameron and the Boardwalk crew made sure Erin was tuned up and ready get back out there. Those efforts would eventually be rewarded, too, as EMS Race Team went on to earn consecutive pole positions and its second-straight 1st place finish in Race 2. Sweeping the weekend was an outcome Weiland certainly hoped for, even if realizing the accomplishment caught him off guard following the race.
“I was actually very surprised that we were able to win again today,” Weiland told the press following his Race 2 victory on Sunday. “Saturday’s race was draining and it took a lot out of us. But we’re obviously very excited about the results, especially competing against a field of drivers as talented as we have here at Suzuka. We are also excited because we came to Japan hoping to get the PETA Cruelty Free Bunnies and Cornerstone of Hope onto the podium, and we’re thrilled to be able to do that twice.”
EMS Race Team dedicated Race 1 at the Suzuka Circuit to raising awareness for the PETA Cruelty Free campaign, while dedicating Race 2 to the Cornerstone of Hope Foundation. To learn more about the two charities that fuel the fight for EMS, check out the following websites:
Cornerstone of Hope: http://www.cornerstoneofhope.org/
For more behind the scenes photos and videos from the trip to Japan, check out EMS Race Team on Facebook and Twitter.
EMS Race Team Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emsRaceTeam/
EMS Race Team Twitter: https://twitter.com/emsRaceTeam