Racing at Road America, a track that has featured some highlight days for the team, Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase saw Stevenson Motorsports continue to show strength with the two-car Audi R8 effort in GTD Class competition.
After running in podium contention for the majority of Round 8, the team accepted a third consecutive double top-10 finish as the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis crossed the finish line in fifth while the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 of Matt Bell and Lawson Aschenbach filed in right behind in sixth.
The result was less than the Jacksonville, North Carolina-based team had been hoping for, having posted their best qualifying effort of the season on Saturday. Davis took the green flag in the No. 6 from second place with Bell just behind in the No. 9 in third for Sunday’s event.
The longest track on the WeatherTech series docket at 4-miles, Road America presents a unique challenge to all of the teams and Stevenson Motorsports began playing their fuel strategy even before the drop of the green flag.
In the opening stages of the race, both Davis and Bell did their best to both maintain position and also save every last bit of fuel possible. The duo ran second and third through their entire stint, running in tandem to stave off the competition and also save fuel before Davis pitted one lap before Bell as they both took on routine service and handed the twin Audi machines over to their co-drivers.
Flawless work by the team saw both Liddell and Aschenbach join the pack safely within the top-five. As the race moved into an extended green flag run, both drivers challenged for position as the GTD field ran at a blistering pace, with the top-six cars all within just a few seconds of each other.
Unfortunately a lack of pace over the longer green stint saw both slip back as Liddell took the checkers in fifth and Aschenbach followed in sixth.
“As a team we’re doing all the right things,” said Team Manager Mike Johnson. “We’re qualifying up front, our pit stops are getting better – we moved some things around and found a little more time. We ran second and third the whole race. After the restart we just didn’t get up to speed the way the others did and we fell back a few spots. It’s a disappointing day because we had second and third place cars and we’re losing so much time in pit lane under fueling. The good news is that we’re running up front, we just have to have all the pieces fall together and we have three more races to do that.”
The team now looks forward to a short break before heading to their home track event at VIRginia International Raceway on August 24-26.
Robin Liddell, No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “We are doing our best but we just aren’t quite there yet, which is frustrating. There is no question that the whole team is truly doing a great job. But when it comes down to it, a battle at the end of the race we just aren’t quite there yet. If we run green with no battles and wheel to wheel racing we are great, but we need to improve in traffic. I feel bad for the whole team that we lost a podium finish today so I’m really looking forward to making up for it at the home track at VIR. The bottom line is that the guys are doing a really good job and we are learning the car all the time. We are able to keep the car up front but we need to make the car better in race conditions so we can fight better at the end when it really matters.”
Andrew Davis, No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “The Stevenson Motorsports crew did a great job in the pits today, unfortunately we are still losing time overall to some of our competitors but I know our team is working hard to make that better and that is definitely not on them. Really it looked great all the way to the end there and then at that last yellow I was a little nervous because our car is really good when it’s running on its own but in the group it can be a bit dicey. It slipped away from us at the end, we nearly had another third consecutive podium but that is the way racing is. It’s always really tight in this series and that shows you how competitive the GTD category is. Again just a huge thank you to Stevenson Motorsports and Audi Sport customer racing and everybody for the support and the great effort. We will come back at VIR which is our home race and get this thing back on the podium.”
Matt Bell, No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “My stint was the easiest one I’ve had all year. The car was good enough on the warm track, and we set it up for that—that was a great decision. It had pretty good balance, and I caught the No. 6, who was catching the No. 23. We made the decision, you know, to just let me just hang out behind him and use the draft to keep up, and save fuel in the braking zones. That worked. We pitted a lap later, and had an extra lap on our car than they had on their car, and our fuel stop was within a tenth of a second. The car was there, but not 100% once Lawson got it. The track cooled off, the air cooled off. I think the boosted cars started catching up. I’m proud of the guys. I say it every time, that we’re learning more about the car. I hope it shows. We are more and more competitive. We have a lot to learn still, but it’s a little less this time, and I think it shows. We’re looking forward to VIR. It’s Stevenson’s home track, if you can say they have one. It might also be another track that suits the car. We’re going to work out the issues we have now, and we’re going to come back even stronger.”
Lawson Aschenbach, No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “I’m just disappointed. The strategy was great, the pit stops were great, our car was quite good. We have been struggling with push behind other cars so I was trying some things to try and counter that by being a little tighter in the Carousel and unfortunately just made a few mistakes and that was that. We just haven’t quite got a handle on being behind other cars and how to cure the aero push. It as a disappointing day but we have a lot of positives to take from it; the car was fast, our strategy was great, the guys were great in the pits. We did everything we needed to do today we just didn’t quite execute perfectly. Thanks to the team, they have been working flat out all year and they deserve a little better than this today but we will regroup and be fine.”
Source. Sunday Group