The California based team went into the weekend with their new ORECA 07 chassis knowing they would be facing a steep learning curve, but optimistic of a good result. With only three practice sessions under their belts, the drivers and crew were able to qualify the #52 AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports machine in 10th place. Due to two cars receiving penalties, Sebastian Saavedra was promoted to the 8th spot on the grid to start the race. An incident plagued the opening lap, but Saavedra was able to avoid the commotion and gain positions. When the #52 entered the pits under the first yellow, the crew of AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports decided to split the strategy of the leading cars. The 28-year-old Columbian ran in the top six and eventually the strategy developed throughout the race by saving fuel with Saavedra leading AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports first laps of the year.
Saavedra swapped driving duties with his teammate, Gustavo Yacaman and everything continued running smoothly until Yacaman caught up to Ryan Daziel, who was having mechanical issues in his #2 Tequila Patron ESM machine and made contact. The consequence of the contact resulted in Yacaman having to serve a drive-through penalty, which diminished any chance of a podium finish. Despite more yellow flags, the rest of the race AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports kept fighting and went on to finish in 8th. The event was a challenge, but ultimately used to learn more about their new ORECA 07 chassis in preparation for the last race of the year, the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, October 13, 2018.
Driver – Sebastian Saavedra
“It was a really tough weekend overall like we expected it to be. Coming in with a new chassis with no real knowledge of it was difficult. Regardless, good job to everyone involved with AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports for all the commitment that has been shown over the past couple of weeks. There were a few unfortunate events throughout the race that took away our chance of a better finishing position. As a high caliber team, AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports has a great way of using the tools they have to help us leave the weekend with a good taste of what the new chassis is capable of. I’m looking forward to doing it all over again at Petit Le Mans with more knowledge and more time to prepare for it.”
Driver – Gustavo Yacaman
“It was a tough weekend, as they all have been. The level of competition is so high in this series. The car was a great improvement and gave us something to fight with. The race evolved and we were not able to close out with the result we wanted, but we definitely had a top-five car there at the end of the race. We will keep working on it and improving.”
Team Principal – Gary Peterson
“It was a very good weekend for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, our former IndyCar driver Saavedra was handed a brand new Oreca chassis from which we assembled and only had one chance to do a brief shakedown at Buttonwillow before showing up at Laguna. Our team had no previous experience with the new car, but with the efforts of Bobby Oergel and the team, they only had a few minor bugs from the first practice through qualifying. The car was developed to a point we felt we had a car to finish the race in a decent spot, which we did.
Sebastian took the car from eighth to first place, turning the car over to Yacaman for the final stint. Yacaman unfortunately, had some issues and we got a penalty but managed to bring the car home for an overall 8th place finish in the race.”
Team Principal -Bobby Oergel
“First of all, I want to thanks the whole crew for working their butts off to get this brand new car ready for this weekend. It’s been a lot of work but we saw the potential of the car and the team this weekend and we are really excited about Petit and the 2019 season. It was a good weekend overall, we mostly used this as a test session to get to know the new Oreca 07 and prepare for the end of the season. We started out the race strong and through smart strategy we were able to get to the front, unfortunately later in the race the yellows didn’t quite go our way and we had an unfortunate penalty, but overall it was a strong performance and it sets us up really well for the last race of the year.”
Source. AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports