Entering the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event with the momentum of a pole position run at Detroit last month and making continued progress with the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, the team had reason to be optimistic ahead of the six hour race.
After making a front-row start, things were looking bright for the first five hours and 55 minutes of the six-hour race as Lawson Aschenbach battled in podium contention in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS machine.
Unfortunately, that podium finish did not come to fruition when an a tire puncture forced the No. 57 Audi machine into pit lane for a new tire with only five minutes remaining.
The setback landed a body blow to the hopes of the team, which had executed flawlessly through six hours of pit stops, fought back from electrical gremlins, and used race strategy to their advantage.
Although weather had been the grand topic of conversation all weekend, the full six hours of racing was held under dry conditions. A front row starting position gave starting driver, Lawson Aschenbach, the jump that he needed to maintain position through the early laps of the race.
In addition to a closely packed and deep field of GTD Class machines, electrical issues was also part of what the team had to battle. The issue forced the team to take precautionary measures during pit stops, costing precious time in pit lane.
A second-place position in the opening 23 laps of the race quickly became eighth all in a matter of one 40 second pit stop, and gave Aschenbach the challenge to regain lost positions, which he was able to do.
Andrew Davis took over the wheel one hour and forty minutes into the event. Davis set his sights on gaining as many positions as possible throughout his lengthy two and a half hour stint.
Davis pushed the No. 57 Audi to its limits, ultimately making the pass for the lead on the No. 93 Acura on Lap 78. Davis held the lead for seven laps before returning to pit lane for a new set of Continental Tires and a full tank of fuel.
Once again, the team quickly saw the lead taken away during the stop as Davis returned back on track in ninth.
Once turning the car back over to Aschenbach to close out the race with nearly an hour and a half remaining, all eyes were on a podium finish. Up until the final five minutes of the race the Stevenson Motorsports Audi ran in podium contention as Aschenbach stayed glued to the back bumper of the No. 96 BMW which ran third.
Unfortunately the left rear tire puncture required him to pit and he ultimately took ninth at the checkered flag.
Stevenson Motorsports Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen Team Quotes:
Andrew Davis, Driver: “There were just a lot of things out of our control that prevented us from getting to a position that I thought we deserved. The Stevenson Motorsports Audi was great, the balance was good which was evident in the first half of the race when we were able to run in second. I was also able to battle up to the front which was nice. Unfortunately we had an electrical issue which messed with our pit speed limiter. We are mainly just losing time in the pits, so every time we gain on track we lose that and more on pit lane. It’s just devastating for the team. We are working so hard and doing all the right things but some things we can’t predict. I am really thankful for the support from John and Susan Stevenson and everyone at Stevenson Automotive.”
Lawson Aschenbach, Driver: “The car was spot on for the race. It rolled off the trailer great and ran great the whole race. It’s a real kicker to get a flat tire with only a few laps to go and while running fourth with the opportunity to go for a podium. Unfortunately, that’s the way racing is and sometimes you can’t explain the things that happen. On the plus side, our pit stops were great as well as our strategy. Now we just have to regroup and set our focus on Canadian Tire Motorsport Park next weekend.”
Mike Johnson, Strategist: “We had great pace all weekend. The drivers did awesome and the pit stops were great, but we just keep having the same failures. We continue to have the same electrical issues with new wiring harnesses which kills everything on the dash. Then when we are in pit lane we have to be overly cautious of our pit speed. Unfortunately, you couldn’t pick a worse time to get a flat tire with three minutes to go. I just feel so bad for everyone on this team that is working so hard and do such a great job.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continues next weekend, July 7th – 9th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Source. Sunday Group