Alex Job Racing has always had championship form, and following the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, the team added more hardware to its trophy case. The Porsche stalwart added the GT Challenge team championship to its list of accolades, including multiple GT titles nearly a decade ago. Team owner Alex Job, who also managed Lotus' foray into full-time GT racing in the ALMS in 2012, reflects on a dynamic season…
Q: Does this championship feel any different than those won in GT?
AJ: All of our championships were difficult to win. This one was especially so. We had to juggle five co-drivers (Jeroen Bleekemolen, Anthony Lazzaro, Jean-Louise Philippe, Dion von Moltke and Leh Keen) with Cooper MacNeil to get the results to win the championship. The Green Hornet team was very competitive all year, and TRG is always a threat. Cooper did a great job to keep focused on the championship even though he was driving with someone different at some of the key events. Leh was our anchor all season. He did a good job to help Cooper get acclimated to the ALMS competition and delivered some great results for us over the season.
Q: How difficult was it to balance the known quantity of the Porsche GTC car with the largely unknown Lotus?
A: It was not that difficult. We have been racing Porsches for the better part of 23 years. We know how to make them go fast. The Porsche 997 Cup car is a great car with a lot of technology. It is as low-maintenance as it gets at this level of sports car racing. Cooper and Leh did a great job all season to stay out of trouble. We didn't miss a single lap due to crash damage. That really helped us to focus on getting the most out of the car each race weekend.
The Lotus was new to us, but we have raced other cars [besides Porsches] in the past, most recently a Daytona Prototype in Grand-Am. We assembled a bespoke team for the Lotus effort. No crew members were shared on either effort in 2012, which is the way it has to be when running two professional teams. Racecars, at this level, require the same amount of attention to detail; we just had two with different badges and a different shape.
Q: Does running two different cars in two different classes make the GTC title seem more impressive?
A: I don't think so. Running two different brands in two different categories does not take away from the effort of winning at all. What it does is eliminate an in-team battle of running the same car, in the same category that are competing for the same trophy at the end of the season. When we raced Porsches in GT for years, we had two cars competing for the same season-ending honors. There was no A and B teams like exist in the ALMS now, except for Corvette, BMW and Extreme Speed. You are not only managing two front-line cars, but also trying to manage, four, six or eight top-line driver personalities as well which, sometimes, can be harder than preparing the cars.
Q: In your mind, what was the biggest key to winning the GTC championship?
A: The key to winning was the consistency of the driving performance of Cooper and Leh all season. Take VIR as an example. Cooper had the wheel at the start. There was a track-blocking incident in Turn 1 on the first lap, and he kept his head and took to the grass and slowly went around the wreck. He didn't put a scratch on the car. A young guy like that usually wants to make up several positions and pick his way through the wreck as fast as he can.
Another example was Canadian Tire Motorsport Park [Mosport]. Leh had never been there before. He took a measured approach, and although we qualified fourth, the guys brought it home in second. He didn't try to over drive the track – just took was given, and we came away with a great result. We won where we thought we could win and took the points the other races. The preparation of the car as well as our strategy was right on all season. At VIR, we got the fuel mileage strategy right and won it that way. The only disappointment was Petit Le Mans. It would have been nice to end with the guys on the podium.
Q: Are you satisfied with how the Lotus progressed from when it debuted at Long Beach?
A: I can't be satisfied with the way the Lotus progressed. As a racer I want to compete at the front of whatever class we are running that year. We just didn't have the funding we needed to go do the things we needed to help us get further up the field.
The platform of the Lotus Evora is promising, but we need to do some wind tunnel testing, and we also need some more torque out of the motor to get us in a more competitive position in the future. We did the best we could with the resources and timetable of developing the car as we raced it all season.
Q: Can you tell us what's on tap for both AJR programs in 2013?
A: We are committed to coming back in GTC to defend our 2012 title with the WeatherTech Racing Porsche. Cooper will be back driving, and we are going to announce the other driver probably during the Rolex weekend at the end of January. That campaign started this week with the Rolex 24 at Daytona test.
On the Lotus side, the marketing team is making inroads on improving our budget, and we have some commitments from Lotus in the UK on car improvements. Everything is looking positive for another year with the Lotus.