After a massive team effort to build a brand new car to be prepared for Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a promising outing for VISIT FLORIDA Racing ended early at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.
Sharing the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Gibson-powered Riley/Multimatic, Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande were hoping to repay the hard work from the Daytona Beach-based team with a solid result on Saturday. The team had suffered a setback in the previous round with a chassis-destroying crash, forcing the build of a brand-new race car in the relatively short time between rounds.
Looking to make more pace improvement with the Gibson/Riley-Multimatic, the team entered the weekend with the mindset of a test, getting as many laps as possible and continuing to learn the new machine to hopefully unlock some speed.
After starting from eighth on the grid, the heads-down attitude of the group was seeming to pay off as the Florida sky-blue machine moved to race in fourth place for much of the race. Unfortunately, the podium possibility was removed when van der Zande suffered a loss of power steering late in the race which forced the effort to end early.
“We knew we were running our own race, and we were trying to get a good read on the car and keep running consistently—and we could do that,” said Goossens. “I was surprised the others weren’t driving away more than they were. But it worked and we got some good information about the car on the long runs. It stayed pretty balanced and consistent. All in all we learned a lot in this race, if it wasn’t for that power steering (issue), we could have been there for a P4 maybe and that’s not what I would have thought this morning.”
“There was smoke on the brakes and I got smoke in the cockpit and then in Turn 2 the power steering suddenly stopped working so it felt like it was locked up,” said van der Zande. “Just before the wall, I could release the brakes and I could stay out of it (the wall). We did a few laps without power steering, and it just killed me. I’ve never been so tired in a race car. I was all over the place to keep the car on the road so I was very happy that the team called me in to end it early. Surprisingly, we had some speed in the car and that’s the positive we can take from here and hopefully we can have some updates. These VISIT FLORIDA guys are working really hard and we are getting the most out of the equipment that we have within this team. Optimizing what we have is the key right now, and then we hopefully can take it to the next level.”
While Team Owner Troy Flis was proud of the work his team put forth all weekend long, he was disappointed with the final result.
“I’m disappointed for this whole race team,” said Flis. “The guys put so much work into this program. This was another thing that bit us this weekend that and I can’t blame it on my guys. I’m not sure exactly what happened but we lost power steering and the electrical part of the steering was blown up. It’s a brand new steering—brand new everything and it’s the most expensive steering you can buy! So it’s frustrating. The drivers did great this weekend, we should have been a seventh place car but we were running in the top-four and we had something that we probably could have finished pretty well with today and I have to thank my guys for all their work, but this is pretty frustrating.”
Next up on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule is the Streets of Belle Isle, June 2-4.
Source. Sunday Group