Libra Racing Debuts Radical-Nissan Prototype at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge Fourth place finish thwarted by mechanical failure; Strong drive from Andrew Prendeville in opening stint LEXINGTON, OH -Libra Racing's debut entry in the American...
Libra Racing Debuts Radical-Nissan Prototype at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge
Fourth place finish thwarted by mechanical failure; Strong drive from Andrew Prendeville in opening stint
LEXINGTON, OH -Libra Racing's debut entry in the American Le Mans Series met with mixed results at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge on Saturday. A strong opening stint by former Indy Lights ace Andrew Prendeville set the stage for a solid fourth-in-class finish until a sudden loss in oil pressure on the 44th lap forced the Libra Racing Radical SR9 into the garage.
"The car felt good and handled well. It came [up to speed] quickly and was definitely faster than the LMPC cars for the first 2-3 laps."
Cars in the LMPC category, short for Le Mans Prototype Challenge, were allowed a horsepower advantage to keep ahead of the Ferraris, BMWs, and Corvettes of the GT class. Libra Racing's entry, built to the specification of the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans Prototype 2 category, was given no such advantage, and it was up to Columbus, Ohio native Prendeville to keep ahead of the leading GT cars.
"I knew we were running fairly well, but it was all about Risi, running ahead and staying out of the way, driving as hard as I can," said Prendeville.
The GT Ferraris of Team Risi passed Prendeville at the start, when he was blocked by a string of slow-starting LMPC cars, but he powered past by lap 10, and was able to stay ahead. Although Libra's Nissan-powered Radical was marginally quicker than the GT cars, it was over three seconds per lap off the pace of the torquey LMPC cars.
"We were a little surprised that the Formula Le Mans cars had been given a power break," lamented Ian Dawson, Libra Racing's Team Principle, "But I think we were comfortable where we were. Andrew drove great. He gave space to the Ferraris and in traffic he got himself clear. He drove to bring the car home at a pace where we were not straining anything. We just retired with a loss of oil pressure."
Since there was no driver change during the first pit stop, Prendeville's teammate and Le Mans winner Chris Buncombe missed a chance to pilot the Radical SR9 around Mid-Ohio. "I feel sorry we couldn't get Chris in the car," said Dawson after the race. "We have to see if we can get Chris back involved."
Despite the unexpected mechanical failure, the Libra Racing team remains upbeat, focused, and realistic about its goals. "We need to finish a race," said a composed Prendeville after the retirement. "The fact that we got to run today was a first step. Finishing races is our goal." The possibility of a top-five finish in class is well within reach, says Dawson. "We had a trouble-free practice at a difficult track with a first-time engine. We had the pace to stay ahead of the GT cars, we had a good stop, and were running fourth in class and eighth overall. Our target was the top ten."
As the only new prototype entry in the American Le Mans Series for 2011, Libra has started with a combination of personnel and equipment that they can progress with. "This is a project," explained Dawson, "Finishing is the important thing.
At Elkhart we hope to have a little more pace." The black and yellow-liveried Libra Racing Radical SR9 with its production Nissan V8 powerplant will rejoin the American Le Mans Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 22nd.
-source: libra racing