Despite excellent race day pace, the combination of early contact, an electrical issue, and some bad luck resulted in a 13th place finish for Stevenson Motorsports in Saturday’s BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Starting the No. 57 Audi R8 LMS from fifth on the grid, qualifying driver Lawson Aschenbach took the green for the one hour and 40-minute event that also featured Prototype and GTLM class machines in the 34 car field.
The initial stages of the race provided an early setback as Aschenbach was bumped off line by the No. 33 Mercedes, losing four positions. Soon after, Aschenbach’s recovery charge was slowed by electrical glitches that resulted in issues with the fuel pressure.
A full course yellow 22 minutes into the race gave the team its first opportunity to pit for a driver change and a set of new Continental Tires. The electrical issues struck again as Andrew Davis was unable to restart the car, costing valuable time in the pits and forcing the No. 57 to restart the race from one lap down.
“I knew it was going to be a tight fit during the pit stop because we were going to be short on a fuel load,” said Davis. “So, we got in there and I was ready to go, but the car wouldn’t crank up. Lawson (Aschenbach) had complained about some electrical issues and unfortunately it bit us and we couldn’t get the car to start. We had to turn the power off and re-cycle it twice. By then we were already a lap down, and that is always bad and disheartening.”
Despite the multiple full course cautions that followed, the Stevenson machine was unable to get back on the lead lap, unfortunately crossing the line with a 13th place finish. But when the Audi ran without issue, the car demonstrated strong race day pace, giving Davis something to consider as he worked to the checkered flag.
“I just kind of drove in the moment and enjoyed the race and once everything settled down I found myself in-between first and second,” said Davis. “I was really trying to be mindful to make sure I didn’t involve myself in a battle and hurt anybody behind us. Once I realized I had good pace I just stayed there, so I was pretending I was going for a podium finish even though I was a lap down. The car really ran and behaved well for the second part of my stint and our pace was strong and it really was a joy to drive this Audi today.”
Aschenbach, who first experienced the electrical issues in the early laps of the race, was disappointed with the race result but proud of the team effort to keep going to the finish.
“Unfortunately, we got spun right in the beginning and that put us behind and was going to make our race pretty difficult,” said Aschenbach. “Then we started having some electrical issues that really started to hurt us. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes sometimes and there’s not much you can do about it. I’m a little bit disappointed in it just because it’s Long Beach and it’s such an important event. We’ve been working so hard and this whole team has done everything right. We’ve just been very unlucky this year and I know we just have to keep pushing ahead and our luck will turn around and we will be okay.”
Team Strategist Mike Johnson, called all the right shots, but unfortunately being a lap down was something the team could not come back from in the short sprint format race.
“The good thing is that we had the right strategy and we had amazing drivers and crew,” said Johnson. “Everything we did would have put us in Victory Lane. When the car wouldn’t restart in the pit box, we lost a lap and we lost all of our advantage. It’s just unfortunate that we could run 36 hours in Florida without a hiccup and the car won’t restart at 20-minutes here.”
Stevenson Motorsports’ next event will be at Circuit of the Americas on May 4-6, where the team will be continuing its IMSA WeatherTech GTD effort as well as making its return to Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS competition in the team’s all new Chevy Camaro GT4.R with co-drivers Matt Bell and Robin Liddell.
Source. Sunday Group