- 08 January 2016
Salem, NH – The first full-season registration for the 2016 Atlantic Championship Series season is 2015 title-winner Keith Grant, who is poised to challenge for back-to-back Championships with Polestar Racing Group in the No. 40 Swift 016/Mazda. Grant has made the Atlantic category his turf, and a dominant 2015 season earned him his first Atlantic Championship.
“I expect the challenges to come from some new and returning young drivers from last year,” said Grant. “Garth Rickards continued to improve throughout the season last year, so I expect him to be a challenger this year along with Conner Kearby.”
One wish from the veteran is to put together a more consistent 2016, hoping to turn his qualifying performances into more race wins. “I believe the key to us succeeding again this year will be consistent strong finishes every race weekend,” added Grant.
Across the 14-race season in 2015, Grant impressed by taking the Championship on a single Mazda engine and no rebuilds during the course of the year, despite an abundance of track time he took advantage of.
“I ran a Swift 014 with a 1600cc Toyota engine for eight seasons prior to switching to the Swift 016 Mazda 2.3L,” said Grant. “There is no comparison in price or reliability. The Mazda engine is extremely reliable, while being less expensive to rebuild than the Toyota. I agree with the engine rules the way they currently are. I like the fact the engines are rev limited to 8200rpm.”
His one engine ran the entire 2015 season, which amounted to 2,200 miles, without any glitches.
After a winter rebuild, Grant said his engine builder, Steve Knapp, said his 2016 engine should be able to go for more than 2,500 miles.
“The current Mazda 2.3L liter engines by Elite have reduced my annual engine costs by more than 50 percent compared to the expenses we were incurring running the 1600cc Toyota engines several years ago,” Grant continued .”The new Mazda engines cost less initially, the rebuild costs are 25 percent less, and the mileage is three times more than we were experiencing with the Toyota engines.”
“The Series is a great learning ground for both up-and-coming drivers and veterans of the sport. Very few classes can challenge a driver in the way that an Atlantic does,” Grant elaborated.
“You must learn to tune the car for both aero and mechanical grip, while being physically fit to handle the physical demands the car places on you throughout a 40 minute race. This requires a driver to have a great chassis engineer that that can listen to driver input and then make the proper adjustments to improve the handling of the car or to tell the driver when he needs to correct his driving style. In my opinion, there is no better chassis engineer in Atlantic racing than Jim Griffith with Polestar. He has been responsible for a number of drivers going into Indy cars and has been a key part of my success in Atlantics, and I look forward to running with his Polestar team again this year.”