Giovanis: Team TGM Championship a “Crescendo” for Pieces Coming Together
Thursday, December 6, 2018

A championship in 2018 may have been somewhat unexpected, but for Team TGM in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge, that’s exactly what they got.

The man behind the operation – and the acronym – team owner Ted Giovanis explained how a championship wasn’t necessarily the goal for his squad heading into 2018. With two new Mercedes-AMG GT4s and a new driver pairing with Owen Trinkler joining Hugh Plumb for the season, the team’s plans were modest.

“We did a lot of testing trying to figure out what the car liked and didn't like,” said Giovanis, who co-drives the team’s second Mercedes-AMG GT4 with Guy Cosmo. “But still, when we started the year, we didn't have aspirations of the championship per se, but we wanted this consistency of finishes, which as it turns out, consistent finishes are the essence of how you win because you’ve got to get points every race.”

Mission accomplished.

At the conclusion of the 10-race season, there was not another team in the MICHELIN Pilot Challenge that performed as consistently as Plumb and Trinkler. The duo recorded the most top-10 finishes of the year at nine – including three wins – and had the highest average finishing position at 4.7. They also were the only full-time team to complete every lap.

And while the championship at Road Atlanta was definitely a “pinch me” moment for everyone at Team TGM, it was their victory at Lime Rock Park in July that was truly an eye opener. It was the first win for Team TGM, as well as the first in North America for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 race car.

“We were climbing the ladder of success, so to speak,” Giovanis said. “We started out not at the top but trying to progress one rung at a time. We had this plan to just keep developing the car to learn as much as we could about the car and then deploy that at each race.

“Next thing you know, by the time we got to Lime Rock it was, ‘Holy smokes, did we just really win?’ That was more, everything came together. It was a really great setup call, great strategy and the guys drove the car like it needed to be driven and things just came together.”

However, Giovanis and his drivers didn’t let their first win together faze them and alter the plan.

“The first win was a great one, but then as we progressed on, it was almost like ‘Is this happening?’” said Giovanis. “But then we never really focused on that. We've said it in interviews before that we decided to keep doing what we were doing. We knew what we needed to do, and we had this plan and it just started to work.”

That’s not to say that Team TGM hasn’t faced its fair share of hardships over its six full seasons – and a handful of partial seasons – in the series.

The 2017 season was particularly cruel to Giovanis’ team, then running a Porsche Cayman GT4, as an incident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park not only forced the team to withdraw from two events but delivered a season-ending injury for Giovanis with a ruptured Achilles tendon. While Plumb was tapped as Giovanis’ replacement, the team’s planned return to Road America was thwarted by another incident in practice that resulted in too much damage for the team to continue on through the weekend.

But Giovanis led his team through the adversity, being confident in his crew and his drivers, and at the end of the season, made what would be the championship-winning decision to field two cars, one with an all-professional lineup and one with a professional-amateur lineup.

“All of these things were building blocks,” said Giovanis. “The championship may have been a crescendo for a lot of varied pieces that came together, that were built and that evolved over some period of time.”

Now looking back, Giovanis summarizes the team’s efforts and the lasting effects of its first championship.

“We had the right guys and the right crew,” said Giovanis. “Everybody started doing their jobs and focusing on what they needed to do. This is the biggest thing that's happened to TGM, winning the championship. And it was a really big deal. At Lime Rock where we had the first win for AMG, AMG was really happy. It turned out to be great for all of us. We're all still really gratified, all this effort paid off as we went through.”