Stevenson Motorsports was back in Victory Lane on Saturday at Lime Rock Park as Matt Bell and Robin Liddell once again drove the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT4.R to the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge win for the second race in a row.
Following the team’s breakthrough victory with the new Camaro GT4.R platform at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weeks ago, Bell qualified the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports machine on the front row by locking in second on the starting grid on Friday. A combination of strategy, pit stops, and smart driving around the 1.5-mile circuit saw the Stevenson Motorsports organization return to the top step of the podium.
Bell took the green flag at the start of the two-hour event, maintaining his position through the first portion of his stint. Thirty-five minutes into the race the first full course caution was displayed which gave the team the opportunity to pit early for a new set of Continental Tires and additional fuel.
Upon the restart, Bell capitalized on his fresh Continental tires and made a remarkable maneuver around the cars ahead to put him right back into the hunt for the lead. It didn’t take Bell long to make the pass on the race-leading No. 12 machine on Lap 43 to once again take the point.
“That was a really great stint for us as far as competitiveness of this car,” said Bell. “Our tires fell off a bit like we had expected but we got lucky in traffic. Mike (Johnson) called a perfect strategy for us to pit under yellow which got us out on new tires for the restart. We just shot through the field and got ourselves a 30-second lead.”
Robin Liddell took over driving duties at the one-hour mark and put the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro back into the lead, increasing the gap to 30-seconds over second place. A second full course yellow packed up the field, but Liddell maintained the gap as he maneuvered through traffic.
Liddell brought home the win for Stevenson Motorsports after leading 51 laps of the team’s 72 total laps led, to make it a back-to-back victory for the team.
“It was a good strategy call from the team to come in when we did and a great job by Matt (Bell) to drive past Trent (Hindman) for the lead on track. Once we went to the restart it was just a case of me not making a hash of the restart and getting my head down. We only took two tires, the balance of the car was good but we were struggling for grip during the final 10 laps. Super job by the team. We’ve executed well especially considering how new this program is – we are still learning the car. I’m very happy with how everyone performed on the team so thank you to Continental Tire, Team Chevy, Stevenson Motorsports and Matt (Bell).
Team Strategist, Mike Johnson made the call to pit early for a fresh set of tires which was a key moment for the team in their hunt for the victory.
“On these short tracks if you pit under green the potential to go down a lap is pretty high and knowing that we have such an excellent starting driver in Matt Bell, we wanted to make sure that we could stay up front and have a slower second stop,” explained Team Strategist Mike Johnson. “If you pit under green later on, you could go down a lap which we didn’t want because it’s hard to get it back here. Matt (Bell) had an incredible restart – I haven’t seen a restart like that in forever! From there it was smooth sailing – we just had to watch what everybody else did and when we knew we could come in on that second stop and beat everybody and keep the lead, we decided to only take two tires. We could probably have taken four, but I just wanted to be extra sure. We didn’t have the fastest car, but Robin (Liddell) is so good in traffic. It was great to have my son Connor here with me this weekend!”
Stevenson Motorsports will return to Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition with the Camaro GT4.R on August 3-6 at Road America.
Source. Sunday Group