Intersport Racing Riding High At Mid-Ohio Homecoming
1-2 Sweep in LMPC and 1st In IMSA Lites
You couldn't script a better homecoming than that of Intersport Racing's weekend at the American Le Mans Series Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge. The team took the top two spots on the podium with their first win in the highly competitive LMPC class and a win in the IMSA Cooper Tire Lites Prototype class. The finishes were first-time wins in LMPC for Tomy Driss and Kyle Marcelli and the IMSA Lites win was also a first for young Puerto Rican star, Ricard Vera.
The homecoming also marked a return to the cockpit for American Le Mans Series Champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Clint Field. Clint and his father, Jon, rounded out the teams winning weekend running second to Drissi and Marcelli in LMPC.
"You know, you always aim for this sort of result," said team manager Brian Alder. "You know you can do it. You have the faith in your team, your drivers and the long-term goals of your program. But a weekend like this… on your home track with friends and family there to cheer you on… I can't describe the feeling. It's just awesome. The feeling is so satisfying… because it's such a huge group effort. Everyone… all the way down the line… including friends and family, they're all part of it. They've all sacrificed and they've all been there for you. That checkered flag drops and it's like everything falls into slow motion… and you look around realizing it's all about the people. Sure, we race cars… they're machines… it's mechanical. But in the end… it's people. It really soothes all the bumps and bruises you've earned along the way. This is when it's fun being privateers."
Kyle and Tomy are each first-time winners in ALMS. When contact, spins and penalties cost current LMPC contenders time on track, patience led Intersport's No. 89 In Time / Muscle Milk / Lafarge / DynaPep LMPC car to the checkered flag.
"I was tired of second to be honest," Marcelli said. "I won in the (Le Mans Series) race at Imola a few weeks ago, then won the pole at Mosport and thought we had a car to win before an unfortunate incident put us out. Tomy did a good job in the first stint, then we got that first penalty and I was saying a few prayers for rain because we were a lap down. I have driven in these conditions although not in a prototype. I have driven here in the rain before so I knew a bit of what the conditions would be like. It was a good battle with (team owner) Jon (Field). It was a really good weekend for the team. Jon has a lot of family and friends here so it was important for him for the team to do well. I think he`s pretty happy now."
Even with a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact, followed by a pit lane speed violation, the No. 89 endured.
"There was a point where there was a change for the lead within a few corners," Drissi said. "I`m still not sure what happened (with the penalty). There was another car in the mix, and it turned out to be a back-marker. All I know, I spun him or her around and I was mortified. I thought I was going to get a stop-and-go. I thought I might lead this thing for Kyle when I come in for the stop. When I thought they were going to let me go, they said it, `stop and go`. I got back on the track, and then we got a speeding penalty. I don`t know if it was me or the car."
Early contact between Eric Lux and Ricardo Gonzalez, put the [current points leader] No. 06 car well back in the field. Drissi took the fight to Lux shortly after, but it was a spin by Lux`s teammate, Christian Zugel in Turn 1 as the rain started, that enabled Marcelli to take hold of the lead.
With Jon and Clint Field finishing second in the team`s sister ORECA FLM09, it was a one-two finish in LMPC for Intersport Racing.
Ricardo Vera, the 19-year-old rookie sensation from Puerto Rico, earned his first Lites 1 victory in a wet Round 8 of the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship.
Vera, driving the #37 Intersport Racing Élan DP02, had an adventurous road to victory. He started second behind Jonathan Gore and took the lead when Gore spun on the first lap. Vera spun several laps later though gathered himself quickly and returned to the track in second position. He retook the lead when the No. 55 car spun on lap eight. Ricardo never looked back.
“This is my first time in the car in the rain,” said Vera, “and it’s my first time here as well. I was worried about the first lap because I didn’t know how the car would respond in the wet, but the car was awesome. I had a problem and spun when I was in the lead early, but I kept going and caught Gerry [Kraut] – then he spun out. I had a good lead, nearly a minute. I’m very happy with the car and the team – I hope there will be more podiums!”