Grand-Am Cup driver Gary Sheehan of Martinez, CA was selected as the designated professional test driver for the 2004 European Car Magazine 1.8T Challenge, which took place at Fontana’s California Speedway on Friday August 6, 2004. Featuring a wide range of popular small-bore, turbocharged European tuner cars, the 1.8T Challenge pitted professional and privateer tuners against each other in several tough comparison tests, including road course, drag strip, dyno, and driveability. The winner, (one in each class, and one overall), will be the tuner whose car achieves the best total score after all the tests are completed.
Sheehan, who has been competing this year in the Grand-Am Cup endurance series, (in an Audi S4 Quattro), was the designated professional driver for the road course competition. Sheehan has participated in similar challenge events in the past, and enjoys the format immensely. Tuner car owners had the option of using him as a designated driver, in an attempt to get the best possible lap time out of the car, or use another driver of their choice.
In addition to driving duties, Sheehan was also tasked with providing detailed notes about the handling of each car he put through its paces on the track. Several cars turned very similar laptimes around California Speedway’s 1.5 mile infield course, but Sheehan’s summaries described how the unique characteristics of each car contributed to achieve those times.
“It was very exciting to have been chosen for this role, and I want to thank the guys at European Car Magazine. Challenge events are a lot of fun, because there is so much variety in the cars and the way each of them is set-up. To go from one to the next all day long really challenges your ability to learn a car quickly, and get the best lap out of it. I like that. I had a great time meeting all of the tuners and helping them get the most out of their cars for this competition.”
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