B-K Motorsports Finishes Fifth in Home Race at Road America
Elkhart Lake, Wis.- B-K Motorsports enjoyed its best run of the year Saturday in the Generac 500 presented by Time Warner Cable, as drivers Ben Devlin and Gerardo Bonilla steered the No. 8 BP Lola B07/46 Mazda to a fifth place finish in the LMP2 category. The locally based-team battled through minor gremlins during the four-hour race, forcing the Mazda MZR-powered prototype to make two extra pit stops. However, a series of late race accidents by leading contenders boosted Devlin and Bonilla to another top-10 overall finish.
Devlin started the Dunlop-shod Lola in 12th overall and quickly worked his way up into the top-10. He pitted for tires and fuel while under caution at the 40-minute mark, but during the middle of his second stint, the team spotted a possible misfire. They elected to bring Devlin in a little early for his second stop. Luckily, it wasn't anything serious, and the Englishman rejoined in 11th.
After the consistent run put in by Devlin, Bonilla took the wheel of the BP Lola Mazda ten minutes past the halfway mark. However, just four laps later, the car made its second unscheduled stop of the race. Rubber had built up inside the radiator openings, causing gearbox oil temperatures to rise. After the quick service to clean out the radiator, Bonilla rejoined, powering the car back into the top-10. The final stop of the day came with less than 50 minutes remaining for routine service.
The team benefited from a series of late-race accidents that forced other contending prototypes out of the race. On top of gaining two positions, the cautions also played into the hands of Bonilla, as all the cars got bunched up on the restarts. There, the American Le Mans Series rookie battled with other leading machinery, while fending off the No. 16 Dyson Racing entry behind him. After four hours of hard-fought racing, Bonilla crossed the line in eighth overall, and only two laps away from the outright race winners.
"That was the most fun I've ever had in a race car, I think ever!" a beaming Bonilla said after the race. "During the very first stint, the tires didn't come in as good as I had hoped. They kept on getting really greasy, but they called me in. I don't know what they did, but they must have given me a special set of Dunlops or something because the tires kept on getting better and better throughout my second stint.
"Thank goodness for those restarts near the end because that gave me a rabbit to follow and some excitement. It was fun pushing, especially on the last restart. Mike Wright, the team engineer, was on the radio saying, 'There's a Dyson behind you, two cars back.' But that was fine, because we were faster! We were keeping up with the Penske car for a while. We were much quicker than the other Dyson car ahead of me, and out of Turn 3, I almost had a chance to pass, but he kept on blocking. I tried everything to pass him and even took to the grass to try to get around him. Getting by him on the outside wasn't working either, so I played it safe and concentrated on defending my position to the finish. But man, that was fun!"
The result was the team's fourth top-10 overall finish overall and its best class result of the season. While the misfortunes of others certainly played into things a bit, the reliability of the BP Lola Mazda package once again prevailed. This certainly bodes well heading into the next race at Mosport in two weeks' time.
"It was a really good run," Devlin said. "We're pleased with that. The team, everyone at B-K Motorsports did a fantastic job. Every pit stop went smooth. We just had a little hiccup during the middle of my second stint. But the car went out and was fine once we got it fixed. The next race at Mosport is going to be great. We got our best finish there last year and definitely looking forward to it again. The car has been getting better and better, and with the Dunlops, we're very confident of delivering more solid results."
"It's really nice to have so many guests from BP and Mazda here, and to get the best finish of the year is very rewarding," said John Doonan, Manager, Motorsports Team Development for Mazda. "It was a crazy race at the end, but we hung in there. We had a little bit of a misfire and wanted to be sure it was ok. We fought our way back and it was good. We're now really looking forward to Mosport, as we finished fourth [in class] there last year. The track caters to this Lola Mazda package very well, so it should be good."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 presents Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday, August 24 from Mosport International Raceway just outside of Toronto. The race will start at 3:05 p.m. ET with live television coverage on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio will air the race live on XM Channel 166. Live radio coverage also will be available from American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.