Intersport Racing's Podium Run Thwarted by Late-Race Spin Long Beach, Calif. -- Intersport Racing fought cool weather conditions and overcame a late-race spin to finish fourth in the LMP1 category in Saturday's Tequlia Patron American Le Mans ...
Intersport Racing's Podium Run Thwarted by Late-Race Spin
Long Beach, Calif. -- Intersport Racing fought cool weather conditions and overcame a late-race spin to finish fourth in the LMP1 category in Saturday's Tequlia Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. The No. 37 Very Berry Exotics Lola B06/10 AER of Jon and Clint Field ran as high as eighth overall before dropping back after a sequence of pit stops and a late-race spin on cold tires.
Jon Field, who qualified the car 11th overall on Friday, moved up to eighth in the opening laps before over braking into Turn 1 on a restart while on cold tires. Luckily, the veteran driver avoided any contact with other cars and only lost a few seconds on the track.
Field quickly climbed back into 10th before pitting at the 45-minute mark, handing over to son, and team owner, Clint. As Jon entered pit road for four Dunlop tires and a full tank of E85 fuel, his pit speed limiter malfunctioned. As a precaution he slowed down, so not to receive a speeding infraction.
"In the beginning we were running real well and then my tires went through a heat cycle," Jon said of his stint. "I couldn't get heat back in them, so I avoided an incident and went straight. Then I came in [the pits]. I hit the pit lane speed limiter. The throttle shot way past it like it was going at speed, so I slowed it down."
However, the LMP1 class-leading Audi of Lucas Luhr was coming in directly behind Jon. The Audi ended up making contact with the Lola while on pit road. No harm, no foul for either as they both pitted and continued without damage.
Clint then jumped into the seat of the Very Berry Exotics machine and continued the strong run. He pitted again at the one hour, 10-minute mark for fuel-only while under yellow. But as soon as he restarted, the front undertray came loose, forcing Clint back to the pits for a replacement front nose.
Once fixed, Clint went back out but suffered a spin while exiting Turn 11 on cold tires. He was unable to reverse the car, bringing out a yellow. After getting assistance from track marshals, Clint rejoined and completed the 100-minute race, finishing fourth in LMP1.
"Dad had a really good opening stint," Clint said. "When I got in, our plan was to leave the tires on because we been having trouble getting the tires up to temperature. So we put the tires on and went back out and had trouble getting the temperature back in them after they've been worn. That's why I was struggling with the first couple of laps."
Clint continued: "We had a problem with the suspension piece again. It broke on the front straightaway. We came in, fixed that and the same problem: tires. It kept locking up, no grip, nothing. I spun coming out of the hairpin. It was not a good day."
Building up heat in the tires proved to be a challenge all race long for Intersport. Team manager Brian Alder said cooler weather conditions on Saturday played a factor in getting sufficient traction to the car on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit.
"The crew did a good job with the quick nose change," Alder noted. "Other than that, we were looking for a third place podium before that happened. And then the temperature dropped dramatically in the last hour and caught Clint out in the last corner. He was just trying to get back up to speed."
After enduring two tight and twisty street circuits, Intersport Racing is looking forward to getting back to permanent road course venues. The next round of the series takes the team to Miller Motorsports Park for a two-hour, 45-minute race on the outer course layout. Regular co-driver Richard Berry, who didn't drive at Long Beach on Saturday, is especially looking forward to getting more seat time in the races to come.
"A good old purpose-built racetrack for this car will be a little bit better," Clint said. "We'll try to fight with them a little more. The car, the engine, is great. We just got to get a little more development on the tires."