Marco Polo Motorsports experienced lows and highs during Rounds 5 and 6 at Virginia International Raceway. Though the No. 71 KTM X-Bow and drivers Nicolai Elghanayan and Mads Siljehaug had a sluggish start in the scorching heat and humidity, they were able to secure fifth in class and valuable points for the GT4 America championship on Saturday.
Setup challenges from rounds three and four at the Circuit of the Americas followed the team into the weekend start in Virginia. However, the expanded partnership with Germany-based Reiter Engineering gave the group strong optimism headed into the race weekend.
“We’re having a little bit of an uphill battle right now,” said Elghanayan. “But it’s all learning. Reiter has already helped us improve drastically over the 2020 season. The key to a successful program in motorsport is to always learn and grow, and our partnership with Reiter is a big reflection of that spirit.”
The No. 71 KTM X-Bow started race one from seventh in class. After navigating out of class traffic and back and forth position exchanges and with Tomas Mejia of No. 38 ST Racing, Siljehaug was able to acquire some solid weekend points towards the championship. With the car balance still not at optimal configuration, the crew dug into the mechanics while Elghanayan and Siljehaug examined data and in-car footage.
Qualifying second in class for race two provided a favorable starting position on Sunday. Siljehaug was able to swiftly navigate the team into first in class while reporting to the team that the car felt strong in the warm conditions. A well-strategized entrance in the pit window and smoothly executed driver change had Elghanayan entering onto the clear track while maintaining the team’s first-in-class position. After a shuffle in position that brought Elghanayan to fourth in class, the car had contact with the No. 24 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin while fighting to gain back ground, damaging the KTM and rendering it unable to finish the race.
“We had a little fault,” said Siljehaug. “But we will definitely come back stronger, and we can only get better. Everyone has put in a lot of work to keep our progress going, and I’m excited to see what we can do moving forward.”
Reiter Engineering made great strides in setup throughout the weekend and bring a renewed excitement and confidence to Marco Polo Motorsports, knowing the car was brought so close to its full potential.
GT4 America will continue the 2021 championship at Road America on August 27-29.
Source. KBru Communications