High Hopes at Lime Rock Dashed for B-K Motorsports Lakeville, Conn. -- After steady runs in the past three American Le Mans Series races, B-K Motorsports had hoped to continue its progression during the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
High Hopes at Lime Rock Dashed for B-K Motorsports
Lakeville, Conn. -- After steady runs in the past three American Le Mans Series races, B-K Motorsports had hoped to continue its progression during the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. However, gearbox problems robbed the team of a finish Saturday, as the No. 8 BP Lola B07/46 Mazda of Gerardo Bonilla and Ben Devlin retired midway through the two-hour and 45-minute race.
Bonilla qualified the Mazda MZR-R-powered LMP2 car in 11th overall on Friday and ran a solid opening two stints in the race. The Star Mazda and IMSA Lites graduate looked to be in good shape after the first round of pit stops, but then the team discovered a problem with the gearbox during two subsequent stops. Thus, the Yokohama-shod car was wheeled behind the wall for repairs in the second hour. A valiant effort to repair the car was made, but the team elected to play it on the safe side and end the day early.
With the next round of the Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course only one week away, many teams and drivers just wanted to leave the Northwest Connecticut circuit in one piece. Multiple on-track incidents plagued Friday's practice sessions, much in part due to the newly repaved and reconfigured layout. But both B-K drivers kept the BP Lola Mazda spotless, also enjoying the new characteristics of the 10-turn, 1.51-mile circuit. Bonilla in particular was surprised how clean the race ran in the opening hour.
"It was fun and challenging," Bonilla said of his run. "We're still learning to keep up to the pace of the competition. The traffic was really entertaining and not as bad as I was expecting. Everyone was more patient and more attentive than what practice would have indicated. Hats off to everybody for doing a really nice job with the professionalism. I was able to help out some of the faster cars and the slower cars helped us out quite a bit, which was nice."
While luck was not on their side this race, the constant developments made by the team had begun to pay dividends. A successful test at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago confirmed the speed potential of the Mazda MZR-R-powered Lola, and the team hopes to show off its potential next weekend.
"The guys worked extremely hard as usual," said John Doonan, Manager, Motorsports Team Development for Mazda. "We just had a gearbox issue. With the races being back-to-back, we didn't want to take the chances on additional damage. So we came back to the garage and tried to make it work, but unfortunately we're out of the race. We're happy to have a lot of guests here from BP and folks from Castrol and Bank of America but disappointed we couldn't go to the end for them. But we'll get them next week at Mid-Ohio."
Bonilla agrees, feeling that the momentum is constantly building within the organization, despite the setbacks seen at Lime Rock on Saturday.
"This is the most motivated team that I've been a part of," Bonilla said. "And I've been on some really damn good teams in my formula career. This team is very special. They always go above and beyond. The car was brought back here instantly to see if the gearbox problem could be fixed. But unfortunately, we found more problems than we thought and it wasn't going to be a quick fix. It was too bad. But we'll move on to Mid-Ohio."
There is little time to rest. The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge, scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 19 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. NBC Sports will televise the race from noon to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20. XM Satellite Radio will air the race from 5 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage on americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.