Lowe's Fernandez Racing Second in Class as Storm Halts Petit Le Mans
A band of thunderstorms brought an early end to the Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda6 at Road Atlanta this afternoon. The scheduled 1,000 mile/10-hour endurance classic was red-flagged just shy of the halfway point at 4:15 pm due to persistent heavy rain and intermittent lightning. The race was officially called just after 8:00 pm.
Lowe's Fernandez Racing drivers Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished second in class and 21st overall after battling power steering issues which began during Diaz's first stint aboard the #15 Lowe's Acura while he was running first in class and ninth overall. Repairs on pit lane proved unsuccessful and the team returned to the garage to change the steering system. As a result, Fernandez and Diaz fell 29 laps behind the #20 Dyson Mazda which took the class victory.
Their result, however, was enough to clinch team championship honors for Lowe's Fernandez Racing, and engine and chassis manufacturer's titles for Acura. Fernandez and Diaz secured driver championship honors at Mosport in August.
Lowe's Fernandez Racing will head to California next for the ALMS season finale -- the Monterey Sports Car Championship -- at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.
Adrian Fernandez: "You never want to finish a race like this for the fans, and especially for everyone in this area with all the recent rain and flooding. I feel bad for everyone that may be having problems right now with flooding, and the fans that came here to see us. Nevertheless, we are happy about clinching the team and manufacturer's championships, and I have to say thanks to our great partners at Lowe's, Acura and Michelin. Unfortunately, we didn't show what we could do today due to the problem with the steering. When I jumped in the car, there was something really wrong. At that time, I was thinking about the safety of myself and the car because it was acting weird. Electric power steering can start doing some funny things. At the beginning, we thought it was the power steering unit or the rack and after a lengthy change, it wasn't that and we lost a lot of time. Eventually, it turned out to be the wiring harness. I didn't drive much because of the yellows which is typical of this track unfortunately, but the car felt good in the rain and in the dry. It is a shame that the fans could not see the great finishes that we always have here."
Luis Diaz: "We have been facing some type of electrical problem since Thursday. The team did a good job setting up the car but we didn't discover the exact problem until the race. It was a very confusing issue with the heaviness of the steering wheel because sometimes it was good and we thought we fixed the problem but that wasn't the case. In my stint, I faced a lot of challenges. One was the weather. I started the race very conservative because of the rain. When the track started drying out, I started feeling a little bit more comfortable. We were running three laps ahead of second place and I was still conservative but I started pushing a little bit to see where the car was and, unfortunately, I started having the problem with the power steering. For me, what was happening was confusing because turning to one side it was okay and to the other, it was wrong. I came in and we made some changes and checked everything mechanically. I went back out and the car was fine but then the problem came back. We put Adrian in the car to learn his opinion and he definitely felt that something was very, very wrong and we had to take the car behind the wall. We would have loved to have won Petit, but it is great to come away with the team and manufacturer's championships. It was shame today with the weather especially for the fans."