JDC-Miller Taking Baby Steps with GTP Program
For most teams and drivers, seeing the checkered flag at the end of a race is when they can exhale, relax and smile. For John Church and JDC-Miller MotorSports, seeing Sunday’s green flag to start the Motul Course de Monterey will bring satisfaction enough.
JDC-Miller becomes the first customer team of the new GTP era this weekend, joining the eight factory-backed entries representing four manufacturers. Veteran Mike Rockenfeller and 19-year-old Tijmen van der Helm are piloting the No. 5 Porsche 963, turning their first-ever laps in the car during Friday’s practice at WeatherTech Raceway.
“It’ll be nice when the green flag flies on Sunday and we can relax and just start doing our thing,” Church, the team’s managing director, admitted.
Rockenfeller turned 17 laps during Friday’s 90-minute session, with a top lap of 1:19.563 (101.262 mph), 2.860 seconds behind GTP pacesetter Matt Campbell in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963.
Church said the plan for WeatherTech Raceway couldn’t be more straightforward.
“For this weekend, we want to make every session and run as many laps as we can,” Church said. “I mean, it’s a test weekend – just get a feel for everything and like I keep telling the guys, we’re here to learn all the stuff we don’t know. There’s a lot of things that we don’t know that we don’t know, so we’ve just got to go and run and figure it out.”
Rockenfeller is being leaned on for his experience developing race cars. He is a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, including overall in 2010 in an Audi Le Mans Prototype 1, was the Rolex 24 At Daytona overall winner the same year in an Acton Express Racing Porsche-Riley, and is one of the drivers who’ll take on Le Mans next month in the NASCAR Garage 56 Camaro.
The 39-year-old German understands well that the JDC-Miller program must walk before it can run.
“Honestly, I think we can feel as winners if we do every session (this weekend) more or less on time, if we have no big issues and we stay on track,” Rockenfeller said. “If we finish the race, I’m happy. I go home happy because we will learn a lot.”
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