AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports proved their potential as a fighting team over the weekend by completing their first race ever, the Rolex 24 at Daytona in twelfth place. In what was an untypically calm race for the majority of the competitors, the drivers and crew of the #52 Ligier JS P217 crossed the finish line after overcoming a number of their own challenges.
It was evident after a few practice sessions that the drivers would be battling against not having the best overall speed of the prototype class and would need to keep a consistent pace to see results. Gustavo Yacaman of Columbia tended to the green flag responsibilities and allowed the team to slowly climb positions after the first few hours of the race. Staying in the same order throughout the entire 24-hours, Yacaman would hand the car over to Roberto Gonzalez who would then swap for Sebastian Saavedra, with Nick Boulle rounding out the line- up.
Gonzalez experienced the first hardship of the race during the night when he went off in Turn 3 after the rain. The car was immediately taken care of by the crew of AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports who repaired the splitter of the #52 and sent Gonzalez back out to the fight. While making their way up through the field for the second time, another garage visit was required to address some mechanical issues. Despite the obstacles, the drivers continued to run quicker and quicker as they ticked away at the laps.
Consistent driving paired with a flawless pit-stop crew allowed AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports to finish the Rolex 24 at Daytona in twelfth place, four places better than their starting grid position. The team will now switch from 24-hour mode to 12-hour mode as they prepare for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring coming up on March 17th, 2018.
Sebastian Saavedra Driver
“We made it. Full 24-hours on the first try, which was a hell of a race and experience for me. I’m very proud of everyone with AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports after putting a great effort out there. I want to thank my teammates as well who gave it their all. Pace wise, we were unable to recover any laps with the yellows we had to deal with, but all together I think it was a great introduction of our team from all of us here in this series and now we will focus on what is next to come. I am thankful for all the good energy everyone has sent us and I’m looking forward to Sebring.”
Roberto Gonzalez Driver
“This was a difficult race. We knew the 24-hours would be tough, but we started with a good qualifying in sixteenth place after making up a few spots right at the end of the session. We knew we would struggle with the pace during the race, but we also knew that all we had to do was stay out of trouble. I ended up making a huge mistake running in the night after the rain. I went in too deep into one corner and locked up the fronts, which sent me into the wet part of the track and I couldn’t stop the car before it hit the wall. We lost about seven laps, which I’m really sorry about for my teammates and my team. We had a few minor issues after that throughout the night and lost some more laps, but at the end, we finished 12th and I think if we had stayed out of trouble we could have finished 6th or 7th. I’m confident we will pull everything together and do much better in Sebring.”
Gustavo Yacaman Driver
“It was a very hard race and we struggled a little bit from the beginning with the balance of the car, but as the race went on the car and the track kind of came back to us and at the end I think we were running a pretty strong pace, but it was a bit too late. I’m honored to have been here and to have put this project together so late and making it all the way to the end of the race. It was a great effort from everyone at AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports who put together a flawless performance for us, which makes me really proud of this organization. I’m sure as the year goes on we will all continue to groove together and become better and more competitive.
Nick Boulle Driver
“The car got better and better through the race after struggling to get the set up how we wanted it before the start of the race. You always want a car that you can get in and consistently turn good laps, which finally happened once it got dark. I think this is a race that you obviously bring high expectations into, especially for myself after winning last year in a different class. Everyone worked really well together and there’s a lot of room for improvement which will hopefully bring us better results in the future.”
Gary Peterson Team Principal
“We can be proud of our firstt effort of this newly formed team that only came together in late December. My partner Bobby Oergel of PR1 Autosports and myself discussed skipping the most grueling race of the season, the Rolex 24, 3 weeks ago thinking we are not ready and we do not want to look bad for our first race, but we decided to move forward. The drivers did a great job without much time behind the wheel of a Ligier chassis. We had not tested the 2018 Ligier updates, and we had our first test as a new team only at the Roar.
As a whole, I was very pleased with our finishing results and running as high as seventh overall until we had some issue in the night. The first incident was the car going off track with the grass wet sending the car into the tire wall resulting in being flat bedded to the garage. The repairs were completed in record time with only loosing 20 laps which took us out of a top ten finish I believe. We were back on track and the surprise to the drivers the car was actually better to drive than before the crash.
Then we had the alarms for the engine pressures coming on which was nerve racking for the driver seeing the bright warnings lights flashing and having to push an override button per the team instructing while the issues were sorted out. The thought of losing an engine at high speed always is in the back of a drivers mine as well as not knowing if this is our last lap sucked for all. With another trip to the garage to fix the issues we lost seven additional laps.
We need to get some track time next month for our drivers and engineers in order to do better the next race.”
Bobby Oergel Team Principal
“It was a pretty amazing twenty-four hours, which is really thirty-six by the end of it, but I am so proud of the crew and the drivers and the whole team. We had some tough goings and rough moments, but we kept going. Now we are on to Sebring and I know this is the beginning of something really good.”
Source. AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports