Round 3 of the AOR GTE league took me and Ben Warren off to the land of Sushi, Saki and (if the official IMSA races through the week were anything to go by) grip akin to cooking oil on a linoleum floor… i.e. NONE.
Turns out that the track temp must have been a bit cooler than the official races (cant remember ‘cos I didn’t actually check) as during Quali I managed to snag a 1.56.459 which I was well chuffed with, only to find that everyone else was sticking quick laps in too. By the end of the 20 minute open session I was in 19th, Ben was just ahead in 15th with a 1.56.095 and pole went to Djawad Karoni with a 1.54.576. My main focus was the AM cup, and thankfully I was first of the AM drivers with Niclas Domino just behind me in 21st and my nearest contender in the overall, Jake Towns seeming to struggling back in 25th.
Come the race start with a full field of 30 GTE cars on the grid, I was right behind Ben as he took avoiding action in T2, dropping him way down the field to 25th spot. I just wanted to keep my race clean and concentrate on the AM race whilst hopefully picking up some points for the Team champs too. By the time it came to my pistop, I had climbed to 11th, mainly through a combination of other drivers dropping off the track and pitstops. In the meantime, Ben had been charging hard and was up to 14th, about 3 seconds behind me but seemingly stuck behind Stevie Chambers who it appears has a knack for making his 488 GTE as wide as a battleship! In an effort to get past Stevie, Ben went for the undercut, pitting on L23 which by the end of the pit cycle would have had him up to around 10th or so. Sadly, it was not to be as Ben was having some…. lets say… “software” issues… by which I mean, he had to rush to the toilet to throw up. That’s a new one on me and Im looking forward to seeing the pics of Ben at the next round driving with a bucket round his neck!
My pit stop didn’t quite go to plan, Id not started with a full tank for some reason (Old and slow…) so needed 53ltrs to finish, pitting on L25 my stop took 8 seconds longer than Stevie and Ben, dropping me back on the track 5 seconds behind them. So yeah, top strats Bedford, nice work…. Last third of the race for me was just about maintaining a gap to the guys behind to a final finish of 12th and first AM.
In the overall, Im leading the AM cup with 3 wins from Jake Towns and Stephane Kamke. Ben has slipped back in the Pro/Am cup down to 8th overall and it’s a similar story for the Team champs, with TBR dropping back to 6th.
Road Atlanta next week, a track I hate with a passion and one that I will get no practice at being away on holiday until Sunday night, while everyone else will be doing a squillion laps for the Petit Leman race on Sunday….
Official results can be found here