Meyer Shank Racing saw a promising run come up less than two hours short in Saturday’s 71st Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Tom Blomqvist was running fourth in the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Acura ARX-06, when he lost his left-rear wheel approaching Turn 16. Blomqvist slowed to a stop, bringing out a caution. The MSR Acura was taken to the paddock to repair the damage. Blomqvist returned to the race with 41 minutes remaining, finishing 6th in GTP.
For 10 hours, 15 minutes, MSR ran in striking distance with drivers Blomqvist, Colin Braun and Helio Castroneves. The team led five times, with Castroneves, Braun, and Blomqvist all pacing the field at different times.
“It was a challenging race for us,” Blomqvist said. “We had some gremlins to manage, a bit like Daytona. Unfortunately, this time it was a little more costly. I thought we were looking good for a podium there until the wheel fell off. That curtailed our race massively which is a huge shame and I’m pretty confident that we would have been able to achieve that. That’s racing. These things happen. We’ll learn from it and fix it so it doesn’t happen again.”
Braun was leading at the 9:58 mark when he pitted. Blomqvist returned to the race in fourth, but had the advantage of spending less time in the pits due to needing less fuel over the final two scheduled pit stops.
“I’m super proud of everybody,” Braun said. “I’m really proud of the Acura and HPD guys. The Meyer Shank guys did a great job staying focused on the task at hand. I think we all worked extremely hard this week, and given the way the whole weekend flowed for us, I feel like we made due with what we were dealt. Like Helio said, I don’t think we were the fastest car, but we had good pitstops and good strategy. We were fast in spots where we could make up track position and stay in the mix and I thought we were going to be on for a decent result and who knows, it gets crazy at the end of these races. I thought we put ourselves in a position to contend at the end of the race and I think our goal was to stay on the lead lap and put ourselves in a good spot for the last three or four hours. I think we did that but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.”
Blomqvist started fifth and worked his way to the lead prior to his first pit stop. Castroneves took over following a double stint, and recovered from a drive through the grass in Turn 10 during his opening lap.
“We really worked hard, everyone from MSR and Acura,” Castroneves said. “We felt that we had a podium finish. We may not have had the fastest car, but we had a podium car. But this is the 12 Hours and that’s why it’s tough. We don’t know what was the rear-wheel problem, but we’ll find out so it doesn’t happen again.
“My first stint was difficult because we started saving tires and it was very, very hard. Then by my second time in the car and I had the new tires, it was much better and I was able to stay with the guys.
“I think for the amount of sessions that we had and the issues… I thought we did really well. I’m proud of these boys. They did a fantastic job. I won’t see them until Petit, but I think Colin [Braun] and Tom [Blomqvist] will really turn this around.”
From that point, MSR ran in contention, using its superior fuel mileage to lead laps prior to pit stops. Blomqvist reported one problem with water pressure on the new LMDh hybrid, but the team did not need to add fluid during its final pit stop 17 minutes prior to the incident that put them out of contention.
Next up for MSR in WeatherTech Championship competition will be the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15.
Source. Sunday Group
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