Road America: Genoa Racing race report

Genoa Racing Finishes Fifth in LMPC Class In Sunday's American Le Mans Series Race At Road America ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Aug. 22 - Genoa Racing's run in Round 7 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron ended prematurely ...

Genoa Racing Finishes Fifth in LMPC Class In Sunday's American Le Mans Series Race At Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis., Aug. 22 - Genoa Racing's run in Round 7 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron ended prematurely Sunday afternoon at Road America due to an apparent engine failure, but the Zionsville, Ind.-based team and its two New Jersey-based drivers still finished fifth in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class in the very demanding event.

The two-hour-and-45-minute race, part of the Time Warner Cable Road Race Showcase, was broadcast live on SPEED. Ironically the Genoa Racing car, which promoted the sponsors of Green Earth Team Gunnar - G-Oil, Bayshore Recycling and the Zais Group - completed the same number of laps as its car number - 36. The team's sister car, the Green Earth Team Gunnar No. 99 of Gunnar Jeanette and Elton Julian, completed the entire 69-lap race and recorded its third class victory of the season.

The Genoa Racing squad would have liked nothing better than to join them on the podium and they were in line to do just that, but those plans came to an unexpected end when the problem developed under the race's fourth full-course caution with 1:35:39 gone and 1:09.20 remaining. At the time the car was in fifth place in class and 17th overall, just 1.616 seconds behind the eventual class winner, which was fourth in class and 12th overall at the time.

The youngest driver in the race, Frankie Montecalvo of Highlands, N.J., qualified the Genoa entry fifth in class and tenth overall. His co-driver, Christian Zugel of Holmdel, N.J., started the event. Zugel vaulted to third in class and seventh overall just 37 minutes into the race when some of the team's rivals pitted under yellow. Zugel was able to remain third in class and seventh and eighth overall throughout the rest of his stint.

Team manager Thomas Knapp brought Zugel into the pits with 1:05:52 gone on lap 27, when the Genoa Racing crew quickly fueled the car and Montecalvo assumed the controls. Montecalvo recorded the car's fastest lap of the race on lap 28 with a time of 2:06.706 for the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course.

As luck would have it a few minutes later a Jaguar stopped just past Turn 5 due to a problem with its clutch and brought out a full-course caution, which allowed some of the team's rivals to pit under yellow. After the shuffle of those pit stops Montecalvo started his stint fifth in class and 15th overall.

The team topped off its own fuel tank under yellow when it made its second pit stop with 1:27.19 gone. At that point the top five LMPC cars, including Genoa's, were all on the lead lap.

A fourth full-course caution waved with 1:35 gone when the ORBIT/Paul Miller Racing Porsche crashed and the Robertson Racing Doran Design Ford GT stopped at the same time. The field was still under yellow when the Genoa entry stopped too, stranding Montecalvo in the grass just off the frontstretch. The team ended up fifth in class and 27th overall.

"I only got a couple of laps under green, but when I was coming onto the frontstretch I got on the power and felt a big vibration, and then smoke started coming out the back," Montecalvo related afterwards. "I just turned it off, and the safety marshals pushed me back behind the wall.

"Christian did a good job and we had a good race strategy, but it just didn't work out for us today," he added.

"The car was doing great in my stint," Zugel said.  "I saw nothing wrong.
We were in good shape.  It's unfortunate, but such is racing."

"It looks like it was an engine failure, but we're not sure yet," Knapp said. "We would have had to stop again for fuel. Christian did a really good job during his stint and recorded very solid, consistent laps. This was his first visit here in sports cars, and Frankie's first visit here ever. The team worked hard and the drivers' lap times improved throughout the weekend. It's unfortunate that we weren't able to finish today's race, but that happens sometimes."

The team won't have to wait long to try again. The series' next race is next Sunday, Aug. 29 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.

-source: genoa racing

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Series ALMS
Drivers Elton Julian , Christian Zugel , Frankie Montecalvo
Teams HART