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GRC Season Review: Pat Moro, Part 1

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

Running a competitive team in the Global Rallycross Championship isn’t the easiest of tasks, even for a factory-supported organization. But Ohio’s Pat Moro, a longtime Rally America competitor and two-time Production GT champion in that series, is attempting to do just that with his privateer team, PMR Motorsports.

Campaigning the No. 59 Subaru WRX STi in five of six GRC events this season, Moro carried the backing of S4 Optics earlier in the season before entering a marketing partnership with Michael Crawford Motorsports later in the season. Las Vegas and SEMA saw PMR representing brands like Venom Energy, In-Vest USA, and VP Racing Fuels, all while posting some of its most competitive runs of the season. Despite running with a fraction of the budget that the top GRC teams possess, Moro’s team appeared to be on the verge of breaking out.

In the first part of our season review, Moro discusses switching to rallycross from stage rally, succeeding in the transition to the mechanical jump, and making the most out of his team’s finances:

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

You’ve been competitive in stage rally for years, but this year your focus was completely on rallycross and the GRC. When did you decide to make that switch, and how different are the cars you’re racing now from the ones you prepared for Rally America?

These cars—we have two cars that we pretty much put together originally for rallycross, because in stage rally we’ve always done the production-based class cars. That’s one of the issues with going to X Games, we’ve always qualified in a production-based car, (instead of) an open class car or a rallycross car. We actually built those cars two years ago and then made some other changes to the cars to make them more competitive for rallycross.

We pretty much figured at the beginning of last year that we were going to start focusing on rallycross and drift away from stage rally, which was a hard decision for me to make because stage rally has always been a pretty near and dear thing to my heart. We figured that this is the avenue that’s going to have the most growth for us and the direction we needed to go.

Image via Michael Crawford Motorsports Facebook

Some of the sponsorship on your car this year appeared to come over from the Michael Crawford Motorsports organization. How and when did that partnership come about?

We ran into (MCM) at Texas and talked a little bit, and it kind of came about last minute. It’s not really a full done deal by any stretch of the imagination. They brought a little more of a marketing side to us and not so much the technical side. It’s more of a marketing partnership than on the technical side yet because pretty much anything we’ve done we do in-house. So far the technology has been all stuff that we have.

You actually ran two cars at Charlotte, one for you and one for Tim Rooney. Was there any benefit from a data-gathering standpoint to running a second car in the season opener?

Actually, we found out that with the limited budget that we had, it’s probably better for us to back down to one car. We’re not spending twice as much money to get the other car up to the same things that we’re trying, so we found out that it’s beneficial to back down and concentrate on one car than it is to try and run two cars with the budget that we have.

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

Texas marked the debut of the mechanical jump, as opposed to the dirt jump that we saw at X Games and other GRC events in the past. Did you have to make major adjustments from using one surface to the other?

You know, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at all, because your trajectory is pretty much the same. When your car leaves the ramp, you’re pretty much just a passenger at that point. The only thing that was a little bit different was the dirt absorbs the jump a little bit better when you land on it, so it’s a little bit smoother of a landing. It’s a little bit harder (on the ramp), but it was no problem to adjust to it at all.

The question arriving at the SEMA event was, what speed do you have to hit the jump at now that we’ve gone back to dirt? Pretty much all that stuff stays the same. So for me, at least, it wasn’t a big change for me to go from the dirt to mechanical, and the mechanical back to dirt. I thought it was pretty similar for us.

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

We’ve seen you compete at X Games plenty of times before, but this year it was the only round of the championship that you missed. Why weren’t you there, and was it frustrating to skip a major event like that?

That was more of a financial situation there for us. An opportunity came available for us if we sat back, it became a little bit better financially for us to not be there. It was a little frustrating because obviously you always want to be there and competing, but it worked out and gave us a lot more strength for the end of the season. It gave us money to finish out the season a little bit stronger than what we had.

It definitely seemed like the car was a lot faster in the second half of the season. Were there any significant changes that you made to the car as the season progressed?

Image via PMR Motorsports Facebook

A lot! Being that we had a limited budget, we don’t really have a budget to be doing testing. So all of our testing is actually at the event. When we were at New Hampshire, we thought we had some things figured out—there are a lot of things to learn about the rallycross car compared to the stage rally cars. These cars were a measuring stick, but we made a lot of changes from there.

The biggest change and the biggest help, I have to give some credit to Garrett. They came on board, stepped up, and helped us out with their engineering and some different stuff with the turbos. So at the last round the car was pretty competitive, a lot closer than it’s been at any of the other events. I have to give credit where it’s due. Our guys are understanding the car more, and the more we log that stuff and play with those numbers the better it’ll get.

I think the biggest difference in competitiveness with the car right now is we’re running the H-pattern gearbox, and everybody else is using a sequential. So I think that’s our biggest downfall right now.

Coming up, Moro discusses the second half of his season, going back to the dirt jump at SEMA, and his thoughts on the 2013 season.

—Chris Leone

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