The fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship proved to be an uphill battle for Stevenson Motorsports on Saturday as the team looked to maximize its performance despite a challenging set of IMSA BOP restrictions on the Audi R8 LMS.
After 2 hours and 40-minutes of racing at Circuit of Americas, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS finished 10th. Stevenson Motorsports co-drivers Andrew Davis and Lawson Aschenbach had to work hard to generate lap times despite a lack of overall grip thanks to slow corner acceleration as well as increasing track temperatures.
Davis took the green flag for the start of the event and an aggressive approach by Davis paid off as he avoided a scuffle of GTLM cars which had tangled at the exit of Turn 1. Davis charged through the initial stages of the race – at one point with the fastest GTD lap time – until he moved into a race pace that found him running in fourth before turning the car over to Aschenbach.
“The start of this race is always crazy just because of the dynamics in Turn 1,” said Davis. “Based off last year and all of the contact and avoidance I had to do, I was ready this time for some of the same. This year I picked the right side and picked up a spot, putting myself in P4. I really focused on the exits of the corners leading onto the straightaway since we were a little bit down on straight line speed. What I was happy about during my stint was the guys in the front started coming back to me so I was feeling optimistic about the long runs later in the race. I’m really proud of the Stevenson Motorsports guys – they worked really hard all weekend.”
Aschenbach’s consistency would be the key factor in finishing the race in a respectable position. Between the slick race surface and frustratingly slow straight-line speed, Aschenbach fought a tough battle to maintain a top-10 position. Aschenbach laid it all on the line in the final corner as he set up a pass for an inconsistent Lexus, ultimately passing the No. 14 for a 10th place finish.
“The Audi was actually quite good on balance,” said Aschenbach. “I think the main issue is just straight line speed. The margin of error, especially for us, is so much smaller. If we make a mistake we lose half a second to a second and some of the other guys can do that but make up for that with their power. All in all, we achieved the maximum of what we were going to get today and I think we are all looking forward to focusing on the next race at Detroit.”
Grip levels aside, Davis and Aschenbach also found it necessary to adapt their driving styles to cater to the lack of acceleration coming out of the slower complex of corners.
“The Audi struggles in slow corner acceleration and there is a very slow corner that leads onto a very long straightaway,” said Team Strategist, Mike Johnson. “When you lose five to eight tenths of acceleration each lap, it’s very hard to race with anybody. We can be right on their tails in the corners but we just don’t have that grunt coming off the corners to hold or protect a position and you can only hold somebody back for so long before they go by.”
The weekend featured the debut of the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.4, which led the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race ahead of coming home fifth.
The Stevenson Audi R8 LMS will head to the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit for the fifth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on June 2nd – 3rd.
Source. Sunday Group