“First Love” VIR is Perfect Testing Grounds for Rob Ferriol in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Jump

August 15, 2019
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Rob Ferriol is continuing his climb up the sports car ranks. 
Amidst his second season of professional racing in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama – and earning a victory at Road America two weeks ago – Ferriol and the Moorespeed team are making the jump next weekend to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for one race at VIRginia International Raceway. 
Ferriol will be co-driving the No. 18 Audi R8 GT4 with his driving coach and longtime IMSA veteran Spencer Pumpelly, in addition to still competing in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA Gold class, in which he sits second in the championship standings. 
The move allows Ferriol to experience more of an endurance racing format and to return to the multi-make competition he previously competed in at the club level before joining IMSA. 
“Racing in a spec series was something I was a bit nervous doing because I had never done it before,” said Ferriol. “But once I got into it, I really enjoyed it because it forces you as a driver to develop without the benefit of a stronger car or a more agile car. You have to develop your skills as a driver and compete with the drivers in an identical car.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in the GT3 Cup series. I think it’s an awesome single-make series. Everyone from the drivers to the teams to the series staff, Porsche support, Yokohama support, it is such an inviting, but also such a competitive field.”
With the foundation laid from GT3 Cup Challenge USA, Ferriol has looked to take another step into Pilot Challenge. He does own one previous start in the series, which came last year and resulted in a seventh-place finish in TCR. 
It’s not coincidental, though, that start came at VIR. 
“Four years ago, I drove through the front gate at VIR for the first time to do my first High Performance Driver Education event and I fell in love with it on the first lap,” said Ferriol. “I had never driven a track before, much less VIR, so VIR kind of became my first love in motorsports. 
“Anytime I try something new, it always seems to be at VIR because it’s what I’m comfortable with, it’s what I know. I spend less time learning a racetrack or developing techniques around a racetrack and I can focus more of that mental capacity towards whatever it is I’m trying at the time.”
The learning curve also will be a little less steep with 2016 Pilot Challenge Street Tuner (ST) champion Pumpelly by his side. Since Ferriol stepped foot at his first IMSA event at Sebring international Raceway last year, Pumpelly has been coaching the former Marine. 
“To drive with Spencer is going to be a highlight in and of itself,” said Ferriol. “He’s been a coach, a mentor, a friend for the last two years and frankly the cornerstone of my driving experience within IMSA. We’ve been on kind of two sides of the table for the last two years, him trying to share with me his experience, and we’ve developed a pretty good relationship and a pretty easy communication. 
“We’ve followed very different paths, but I think our age and other things like shared interests have helped gel that driver-coach relationship which now, I’m very excited to move to a driver-co-driver relationship.”
The Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway is scheduled for Saturday, August 24 at 2:15 p.m. ET and can be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary. 

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