Shea Holbrook returns to Pirelli World Challenge action, this time in the TC class and she brings Jason Fichter along for the ride. Shea Racing is running two beautiful Honda Accords in 2016, see what Shea and Jason have to say about the upcoming season.
Matt: Shea, welcome back to PWC! Firstly, what was it like doing the jet dragsters last season?
SH: Having the opportunity to get experience in the jet dragster was incredible and certainly broadened my racing resume. I definitely came out of the 2015 IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing season with a new found appreciation for drag racing. In the cockpit, so much is happening at such a fast rate of speed there’s zero room for mistakes. The jet dragster I ran with Larsen Motorsports demanding a certain level of respect. Making passes at 280mph in under 6 seconds within a quarter mile is not something one can not take lightly. It’s a serious machine, you must be fully zeroed in on the task at hand not just for a fast trigger on the tree and down the track but, a safe one.
Will you hop in a dragster at all this season?
SH: It’s no secret I’m 100% focused on the success of our PWC Touring Car program. Time will time if I’m able to get back in a jet dragster this season. I certainly want to.
Matt: You will be in a new car, the Honda Accord, how different is it from what you were driving for your last full season?
SH: I’m thrilled to be back in the Touring Car representing two household brands, BUBBA burger and Lucas Oil. It’s been since 2012 that I ran a full season in TC. Needless to say, I’m here to give my best at achieving the ultimate result, winning the championship for our team, partners and Honda. Recently, Jason Fichter and I tested at Roebling Road in preparations for the season. I’m was pleasantly surprised how strong our 2016 Honda Accords were off the bat. Like any new car and platform there’s work to be done. The biggest difference I’ve found from our TCA Honda Civic Si and the TC Honda Accord has been power to weight ratio and wheelbase. The Accord has several similar characteristics as the Civic Si. Although, we’ve found setting up the car has been more of a task than the Civic Si. We had that TCA car dialed in big time, now it’s time to dial in the BUBBA burger, Lucas Oil TC car up against the competition.
Matt: Jason, Congrats on the ride with Shea Racing! You’ve driven the Mini and also a Camaro in TA3. How different is the Accord?
JF: Thank you very much. A new team, car and class offers up a lot of exciting changes for me. I drove the MINI for 2 years in TCB and I think I squeezed every bit that I could from that car. Driving the Camaro in TA3 gave me the experience of speed and power. The Accord is a nice combination of the two. It handles so well, just like the Mini, but it feels heavy and powerful like the Camaro. I am so impressed with the Accord thus far- it’s a great machine and the crew at Shea Racing built it beautifully. I can’t wait for the fans to get a look at it! Our sponsors have been so good to us, providing the best of the best.
Matt: Does it take a change in your driving style to drive the Accord?
JF: It’s a different car so, yes, there will be some changes in my driving style but for the most part, its just a combination of the driving style I use in the Mini and Camaro.
Matt: The TC classes are really starting to grow, why do you think that is?
SH: Being that the Touring Car class is the largest PWC class with 23 entries is just flipping awesome. I think there’s a few reasons why we’re seeing the class grow. 1) Because PWC is building momentum fast on a competition side, it’s marketability and new leadership. Team owners, drivers, partners and fans are seeing a rebirth of the series and capitalizing on it. 2) Due to a couple manufacturers coming out with new cars it’s opened the doors for say the MX-5 Cup cars to come into the series because it’s the only place currently where they can run professionally. Therefore, increasing car count. 3) There’s been massive growth in the GT3 and GT4 platforms. Although, many touring-car-like teams do not have the capital to buy in (big time) into these platforms. The touring car class you’re still able to build your own hardware and manage it on your own with the help of your respected manufacturer. In simplest terms, the class is still very obtainable from a privateer management and budget perspective. 4) Fans love to see everyday street cars on the race track. These cars are something many can relate too and rally support behind. There’s something about a Honda Accord V6 Coupe tearing up the track on an KONI Shock Absorbers, Eibach Springs suspension with StopTech Performance Brakes and shinny CCW wheels. Not to mention drive enthusiast can buy every performance part in my car on HeelToe Automotive and from Honda Performance Development.
Matt: What are you expecting from the competition this season?
JF: I’m expecting hard, close and clean racing from my fellow competitors. This is a talented field several of whom have transitioned from TCB or TCA. Many of us have worked hard to progress through the classes and so there will be a certain amount of respect along with some fierce competitiveness. I can’t wait to leave it all on the track, every race, from COTA till Laguna Seca! With less than a week till we go green, I can hardly think about anything else!
Matt: What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
JF: Pirelli World Challenge 2016 is shaping up to be one of the best on record! The fields are full of top notch competitors. It’s an honor to share the road with so many greats including my former teammates and my new one, Shea Holbrook! I’m looking forward to getting back on track with my fellow competitors and also getting back on the road with my family all while representing Mothers Polish, Fuel Clothing, Donate Life, Honda Racing, Koni Shocks, Stoptech Brakes, Coolshirt Systems, Turn 7 Motorsports and, of course, Shea Racing. It’s going to be a great season!
Matt: Personal goals for 2016? Team goals for 2016?
SH: I have high expectations of the team this year although recognize we’ll need to make constant improvements throughout the season to reach our goals. Personally, I want to see the success of the program on the race track in consistently improving upon performances. If we focus on that, results will come. I’d like to see Jason and I finish in the Top Five at Circuit of the Americas for our first race of the season. Taking into consideration these are new cars and still have development on them I believe this is a very obtainable goal and realistically the right mindset. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t and shouldn’t win the Touring Car Championship and Manufacturers Championship for Honda. That’s my personal end goal. We were very close in 2014 finishing second in TCA. For the team as a whole, I want us to continuously learn, support and work hard with one another. Let’s go get a 1-2 finish in the championship. I spent all of the 2015 season working on this new program and we’re grateful to our partners for seeing and believing in us. I’d like to thank BUBBA burger for coming on as my primary partner this season. Lucas Oil for returning in a big way to support our two Accords. New technical partners such as KONI Shock Absorbers, StopTech Performance Brakes, CCW Forged Wheels, CoolShirt Systems, Eibach Springs, K&N Filters and our official Performance Parts Supplier, HeelToe Automotive. We’re also outfitted by MOMO Motorsport andRacerInk Custom Apparel. Ive also joined forces with revolutionary stem cell procedures by Regenexx Cayman.
JF: My goals are to win! To win with Shea Racing, to win the championship for Honda Racing and to also win my first drivers’ championship!