Team West Alex Job Racing's Sebring ends early

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On lap 229 Team West AJR's Bill Sweedler was heading into Turn 10 when the No. 4 Corvette got into the back of the red and white Ferrari.

SEBRING, Fla. - The Team West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari had an early end to its day at the seven hour mark at the 61st running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

#23 Team West/ AJR/ Boardwalk Ferrari Ferrari F458 Italia: Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Leh Keen
#23 Team West/ AJR/ Boardwalk Ferrari Ferrari F458 Italia: Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Leh Keen

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

After a positive start to the race, the Team West AJR crew was running a steady pace in the midst of the GT field. Bill Sweedler (Westport, Conn.), Townsend Bell (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Leh Keen (Charleston, SC) were happy with the way their just delivered last Thursday 458 Italia was handling on the Yokohama tires.

On lap 229 Sweedler was heading into Turn 10 when the No. 4 Corvette got into the back of the red and white Ferrari. The result of the contact was a slow leak that caught up with the driver four laps later going through the fast Bishop Bend turn when it finally lost air sending him to the wall hard and causing substantial damage to the front of the No. 23 Ferrari.

"I was going into Turn 10 when Richard Westbrook got into me in the Corvette," Sweedler said. "He tried a very low probability pass and hit my wheel and damaged the valve stem. I gathered it back up and continued.

A couple of laps later I was going flat through Bishops Bend, like usual, and the back end just came around. The tire came off the rim and just let go. It is too bad. We had a good first run going in the Team West AJR Ferrari. We will get it fixed and be ready for Long Beach next month."

Bell is pleased Sweedler is ok and with the way the team ran today.

"First of all the most important thing is that Bill is ok," Bell said. "He got hit by the Corvette and that hurt the tire. He was going through that section that is normally easy flat out and it just came around on him with the flat tire.

Unfortunately it is one of the fastest sections on the track. He took a really big hit. We will get it fixed. As a team we are a lot further ahead than we were this time last year. Just not the way we wanted to start the season with this new car."

Keen is also happy with the way the new car handled and that Sweedler is alright.

"We had an awesome week going," Keen said. "If we could just have a Saturday like the week went with testing it would be great. Bill had some contact with the Corvette and that affected the tire and eventually put him into the wall.

I am glad he is alright, that was a major hit. The car was great on the Yokohama tires and it was really getting better all race. We have a great car and there is a lot more speed to find this season. The guys will get it ready for Long Beach next month."

Alex Job has some work to do to get the car back for Long Beach.

"That was tough," Job said. "We were having a really good first outing with the car. Bill took a hit from the Corvette and that damaged the tire, which went down at absolutely the worst part on the track. I am glad that Bill was able to walk away. He will probably be a little sore tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do to get the car ready for Long Beach, but I am confident we can make it."

The series will travel to California for the Long Beach Grand Prix April 19-20.

Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 68 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts eight Sebring 12-hour wins.

The ALMS GT Class is comprised of production-based, moderately-modified, two-wheel drive race cars including the BMW Z4, Corvette C6.R, Ferrari F458 GT, Viper SRT and Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The GT cars share many similarities to their showroom brands.

With top speeds of up to 180 mph, these elite GTs produce between 450-500 horsepower and have a minimum weight of 1,145 kilograms (2,480 pounds). All GT race cars have green Leader Light System race position lights and green car numbers.

West Alex Job Racing

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Series ALMS
Article type Race report
Tags ajr, alms, bell, ferrari, keen, sebring, sweedler

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