EMS Race Team competed in their first Pirelli World Challenge Event during the Grand Prix of Texas at Circuit of the Americas over the weekend and brought home the hardware. Racing in the Sprint X class, drivers James Weiland and Conrad Grunewald earned pole position for Race 1 before combining to finish an hour-long race first-in-class on Saturday. During the practice sessions leading up the race, Grunewald talked about the finer points that the team worked on to ensure their success on the track.

“First of all, this is a very long race for Erin,” Grunewald said of the EMS+ Ferrari 458 Challenge EVO. Erin was built for a 35-minute race, so the tires and fuel capacity are designed for a shorter length than the Sprint X series requires. Extending the race to an hour means managing fuel consumption and tire wear more carefully. “The last couple of days we’ve been working on figuring out how the tires are going to wear. Trying to get the setup of the car so that the tires last a little bit longer, so it will help us out for the whole race. It’s been quite a challenge, this is a big departure from what the Ferrari Challenge is, what this car was designed for. But trusty old Erin is going to make it through.”

Trusty old Erin did make it through successfully at COTA thanks to the great work of the Boardwalk Ferrari / R3 Motorsports team who had her dialed in all weekend. Despite some early mayhem in Race 1 that Grunewald was able to avoid which resulted in a caution, EMS Race Team built a nice lead over the Porsche that finished second. From there, a well-executed driver change was followed by Weiland going on to hold the lead and secure the P1 finish. With over 25,000 kilometers on the track, and wins in Asia, Europe and North America on her resume, the victory may have been the last for Erin the EMS+ Ferrari 458 Challenge EVO who is poised to now retire on top.

“If this ends up being Erin’s last race weekend, it was a great way to go out,” Weiland said. “She ran strong on Saturday and Sunday, and definitely put us in a great position to succeed. You have to give credit to Conrad Grunewald for some terrific driving, and you also have to give a lot of credit to our Boardwalk Ferrari / R3 Motorsports team who helped keep Erin in top shape. Big thanks to Ryan Negri, Rudy Courtade, Dave and Daryl Cameron, Carl Dragus, Travis Low, Andrew Prendeville and everyone else who contributed to the victory. We would’ve certainly liked to earn two wins at COTA, but we’re proud of our overall effort for sure.”

On Sunday during Race 2, a snag with the new seat belts cost EMS 18 seconds on the driver change which would eventually prove to be the difference. That unfortunately left Grunewald down nearly 20 seconds when he got on track for the second half of Race 2. Despite 30 minutes of epic driving, where he caught up to the Porsche who was holding P1 in class, EMS simply ran out of laps finishing 2nd by 0.4 seconds. While the narrow loss was tough to swallow, it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits on a weekend that resulted in a first-place trophy during EMS Race Team’s Pirelli World Challenge debut.

“It was great to be able to dedicate this weekend to Coach Sam’s Inner Circle Foundation who is starting another school year right now working with at-risk third graders in Cleveland, Ohio through their literacy and reading program,” Weiland added. “So, we were proud to get onto the podium for Coach Sam’s with everything they have going on. We were also honored to be representing PETA Cruelty Free and Cornerstone of Hope Foundation in the Pirelli World Challenge for the first time. Hopefully we were able to raise some awareness and people will take time to visit each website and learn about what those great causes are doing on a daily basis.”

For more interviews inside the Boardwalk Ferrari / R3 Motorsports Garage during the Pirelli World Challenge at COTA visit EMS Race Team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit BoardwalkFerrari.com and R3Motorsport.com. To learn more about Coach Sam’s Inner Circle Foundation, PETA Cruelty Free and Cornerstone of Hope visit their websites.