Stevenson Motorsports had a busy day of on-track action at Lime Rock Park on Friday, with multiple practice sessions and qualifying ahead of Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races.
Stevenson Motorsports IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge co-drivers Matt Bell and Robin Liddell enter the weekend fresh from a breakthrough race victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. With a race winning confidence boost for the squad, the team was eager to continue to show performance at the Lime Rock weekend.
The first day of on-track activity gave the team two opportunities to dial in the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R before a late afternoon qualifying run.
The team rolled into the weekend with a solid car, setting the fastest time in the first practice session and worked to adjust to the changing conditions as the summer heat visited the Connecticut track in full force.
Bell returned to his qualifying duties for the fourth time this season. With another incredibly close set of times in the GS field, Bell was able to emerge from the 15-minute session with a front row starting spot after posting a quick time of 55.796-seconds in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT4.R.
“That was a pretty good qualifying run for us,” said Bell. “We missed pole by more than we had anticipated, but no one is upset about P2. That’s the best qualifying run in this car for this team so far. We learn new things after every session and we know exactly what we need to change. Going into the race we are going to play our strategy to our advantage like we did at CTMP. I don’t think we are the outright fastest car out there but we do seem to be consistent and are good in traffic. We will capitalize on the aspects that are benefits to us and try to gain that one position during the race.”
Bell’s co-driver, Liddell also feels good about the improvements made by the team as they continue to learn about the car.
“The car came off the trailer really well to be honest,” said Liddell. “When I did my quickest time this morning, we actually went back to the baseline set up. One thing the car has proved is that it can go from track to track without needing much change. The car this weekend is very similar to how we ran it at CTMP. I think we can do really well during the race tomorrow and I am feeling pretty confident starting on the front row.”
The running was far from complete for the day as the field was set for Saturday’s headliner event – the Northeast Grand Prix.
Also arriving to the event with the momentum of a breakthrough race victory, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS took to the track with drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis. Two hour-long practice sessions needed to be quickly translated into a strong qualifying run with such a packed day of sessions.
Both Aschenbach and Davis posted fast lap times good enough for P1 throughout each session. Both drivers explored a range of different set ups as the increasingly hot track conditions created an ongoing challenge.
Davis returned to the seat of the No. 57 Stevenson machine for the 15-minute qualifying session. Davis kept in mind that he would need the full session to lay down his fast time while also keeping a close eye on the condition of the tires as the track conditions changed.
“I am sure the guys will spend all night trying to figure out what we can do to find those last two tenths,” said team strategist Mike Johnson. “But, the laps here are 50 seconds and Andrew (Davis) had all the right split times. We just weren’t able to put it all in on the same lap. You drop a wheel or hit a curb just the wrong way and it’s enough to knock you off. One tenth is the difference between first and eighth, but I feel really good for the race. I think we’ve got a great car.”
“It is always really close here at Lime Rock, so a tenth translates into a lot more here,” said Davis. “We have been struggling a bit with the balance of the Stevenson Motorsports Audi today. There are some sections where we are pretty good but others where we’ve been struggling. The heat has affected the grip levels. It’s such a close game in IMSA, it just comes downs to tenths and hundredths. I think we will need a little bit better car to keep up with this field so I think we will want to put our heads together and work on that tonight. We just have to be smart in the race tomorrow and work our way up.”
Source. Sunday Group