Road Atlanta: Libra Racing retirement report

The story under the tent in the Libra Racing paddock this week is the tireless resilience of the team in the face of overwhelming mechanical problems. Lead driver Andrew Prendeville started the 13th annual Petit Le Mans from the pit lane after...

The story under the tent in the Libra Racing paddock this week is the tireless resilience of the team in the face of overwhelming mechanical problems.

Lead driver Andrew Prendeville started the 13th annual Petit Le Mans from the pit lane after the team serviced the engine in the morning. On lap 4, the car began losing oil pressure and Prendeville mindfully pulled the car off the track. It was brought back to the paddock, where mechanics pulled the engine for more service. Furious work by the team allowed Prendeville to take the car back on track to top off fuel and swap driving duties with Peter Dempsey.

Dempsey, who won at Road Atlanta last year in the Star Mazda series, made two laps before low oil pressure once again brought the Radical SR9 to a halt.

"It was a difficult weekend," said Dempsey. "The guys worked extremely hard all weekend. It was nice to get out for a lap briefly. I want to thank the guys for all of their hard work. Everything that happened was really out of the team's control unfortunately. We'll bounce back and I look forward to trying to do something next year."

The team worked restlessly leading up to the race, completing over 300 miles of testing at Libra's home base in North Carolina, without any major problems. At Road Atlanta, reliability issues required an engine change on Tuesday and servicing that required pulling the engine on three occasions.

Libra Racing is a combined team between Team Owner Ian Dawson and his Norwich-based squad and a crew from North Carolina's Crawford Composites. Harri Toivonen is the third driver and co-owner, and introduced his new IONI hydration drink logo to the car's livery. "We have a fantastic team. The guys are incredible."

Dawson lamented the weak point of the engine, but praised his team's efforts. "The support we've had from Crawford Composites and their people has been superb. It's one of the best combination teams I've worked with in years. It gels together, they all think the same, and basically, we've got a group of winners. We've just got to work out how to get the engine package up to the pace of the team and the car."

The successful test in North Carolina lead to a good baseline for the chassis and suspension. All weekend the drivers touted its balance. "Once again the Radical performed extremely well," continued Dawson, "It's been really disappointing that we only managed to do a few laps after we covered over 300 miles testing before we came here.

"I'd like to thank IMSA and all their staff. They are understanding of the whole situation when a team is developing something. It's why you come and race in the [ALMS] series. They never let you down."

-source: libra

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