It's been a tough four weeks for the Merchant Services Racing team. After surviving the battle on the streets of Baltimore with both cars finishing in the top 5, it was another rough and tumble weekend at the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón VIR 240 at Virginia International Raceway.
"We really had a strong race going with Kyle Marcelli and Lucas Downs in the No. 8 Lamex / Butterfield Farms car," noted team owner, Brian Alder. "Unfortunately our day ended rather abruptly when Lucas Downs made heavy contact with the tire wall going through the high speed esses. He was running first in class at the time. Needless to say everyone is relieved that Lucas is ok. It was a pretty high speed crash and shows the strength of the ORECA PC car and demonstrates how safe they are."
"On a personal note," added Alder, "I want to thank the IMSA safety team for their quick response and professionalism while tending to Lucas. Having a group of professionals like the IMSA safety team gives the entire paddock a certain degree of confidence knowing we're racing in some of the safest conditions in all of race. We all appreciate them and what they do week in and week out."
"The Merchant Services Racing group has really proven to work well as a team over the last few rounds," said Kyle Marcelli. "Our engineer John Travis has done a superb job to give us a fast and consistent race car. It's proven itself over and over showing consistent speeds in practice, qualifying and race conditions."
"Qualifying was thrilling as it has been over and over this season," Kyle continued. "To miss the pole position by only 0.001 is not only heartbreaking but totally unheard of!. This would have been our third pole position this season, again proving the competitiveness of this team. I'm looking forward to Petit where we have finished second the past two years, I'm eager to win"
"While we leave VIR with a DNF, it's not for a lack of preparation or speed," added Kyle. "More importantly, I'm very happy that my co-driver Lucas Downs is ok after his off in the high speed eases, it goes to show the quality of these race cars."
Alder gave spoke about the No. 7 car's day;
"Eric Lux and Tony Burgess put in solid clean stints in the No. 7 car during the first 2/3rd of the race," continued Alder. "They handed off an immaculate car to our lead driver, Pablo Sanchez with 1.5 hours to go. Unfortunately with less than an hour to go Pablo was hit from behind by a P2 car exiting the pits and heading into turn 1. The car suffered heavy damage to the right rear corner and a flat tire. The crew did a great job repairing the damage but we lost several laps in the process."
"The car did however finish the race scoring valuable team championship points in doing so," Alder pointed out. "Currently we are third in the Prototype Challenge class just 10 points behind RSR for second. Our goal and focus now is on winning Petit LeMans and securing the number two spot in the team championship."
"It was a tough weekend for BAR1 Motorsports this weekend," said Eric Lux. "But this team proved to the LMPC competition that we're a force to be reckoned. Both cars were very competitive this weekend and the guys did a great job with the setups. While the No. 7 car wasn't the fastest car in qualifying trim, the race setup was one of the best of the LMPC cars I have driven.
"It was a pleasure to race for Brian Alder and the Merchant Services team," Lux added. "Tony Burgess drove excellent all weekend and Pablo turned some very fast lap times. It's unfortunate we didn't end with a podium finish. Had we not suffered the late race incident with the P2 car, I'm confident we would have finished 2nd in class.
"I'm really pleased to hear that our teammate, Lucas Downs, in the No. 8 car, was relatively uninjured after his massive impact," said Eric. "Hopefully there will be an opportunity to race for BAR1 Motorsports in the future when we can put both cars on the podium!"
The final race of the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda. The 1,000-mile/10-hour race from Road Atlanta is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct 20. ABC's broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 21. Full, live coverage starts at 11:15 a.m. ET on ESPN3.
Source: Merchant Services Racing