In one of the shortest races of the IMSA WeatherTech season, Stevenson Motorsports quickly went from the highest of highs to the lowest lows in Detroit as a promising run out front came to an end after an axle failure ended the team’s race early for the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS on Saturday.
Leading the GTD field to the green flag after scoring pole in qualifying on Friday, Lawson Aschenbach made the team’s 25th start from the pole position ahead of turning the car over to co-driver Andrew Davis.
The initial laps of the 100-minute race proved to be tough from the start as Aschenbach worked to maneuver around the tail end of the PC field. But once he cleared the prototype machines, Aschenbach settled in, leading the opening 19 laps and eventually growing an 18 second lead ahead of the second place Acura.
An ill-timed full course caution brought Aschenbach and the rest of the GTD field into the pits for the first and only round of pit stops. Turning the car over to Davis, the No. 57 Audi reentered the track in third.
Davis fought a tough battle for the remaining 70 minutes as the field packed up running within tenths of a second of each other. Davis held his pace in the beginning of his stint, laying down a fast lap time seven tenths faster than the top-five.
With 24 minutes remaining, back luck struck as Davis lost drive as he sustained an axle failure, barely allowing him to roll to pit lane and ultimately ending the race early.
“Honestly, I’m devastated,” said Davis. “We had a great week going and the team gave us an awesome car. The race started like we wanted it to, but I lost a couple of spots on the pit stop with the fuel delivery so I came back out in third. It is hard to pass here, but I was having fun, our Audi was running exceptionally well. Half of the track, I had good pace on them but on the straightaways I didn’t, so I was just trying to stay close in case they had a battle and I could sneak by for a win. I was just getting excited about the opportunity to get our Stevenson Audi on the podium I think we were solid in third at worst. In the end, I lost a left axle. There is no warning for that, we lost drive and was lucky to have enough rolling speed to get to a safe spot. Really just disappointed for the team and for John and Susan Stevenson.”
The weekend was another that saw the trademark execution of the Stevenson crew at the fore, but didn’t yield the results that effort should have generated.
“On a weekend where we were just doing everything as we wanted to—starting from the pole and opening up a great lead, the racing gods were against us—the yellow came out about a minute too soon, and our fuel delivery isn’t fast enough to compete with the other guys,” said Mike Johnson. “And then we had the problem at the end, so what could have been a very good points day now has dropped us outside the top ten or so. It is frustrating because even when we do everything perfect, we just can’t catch a break. This team is overdue for a big result. Obviously, we’ll go back and put the car back together and be ready for the Glen, where we’ve won before so hopefully that is where we can take this momentum and put it all together.”
The qualifying result and opening stint had the Stevenson fans looking for a big podium result after a fast start to the day.
“I had one goal, to try to pass as many P cars as possible,” said Aschenbach of his opening run. “Fortunately it worked out and I was able to build up the lead that we had. I was able to go really hard right from the start. Unfortunately, we lost our lead taken away from a wreck that really shouldn’t have happened. It was disappointing, and then that really hurt our strategy because of our fuel flow issues. Fortunately Andrew was doing a great job and we had a shot for a podium. This one really hurts. It’s hard to have this kind of strong performance but walk out of here with so little to show for it.”
Round six of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Series will return later this month as the team heads to Watkins Glen June 29-July 2.
Source. Sunday Group