B-K Motorsports Enjoys Strong Run in Salt Lake City Tooele, Utah- After coming off back-to-back races on the streets of St. Petersburg and Long Beach, B-K Motorsports continued its streak of top-10 overall finishes Sunday in the American Le Mans...
B-K Motorsports Enjoys Strong Run in Salt Lake City
Tooele, Utah- After coming off back-to-back races on the streets of St. Petersburg and Long Beach, B-K Motorsports continued its streak of top-10 overall finishes Sunday in the American Le Mans Series Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels. Drivers Ben Devlin and Gerardo Bonilla steered the No. 8 BP Lola B07/46 Mazda LMP2 car to a ninth place finish overall, eighth in the highly competitive LMP2 class.
The new 3.048-mile outer course at Miller Motorsports Park provided a challenge to all competitors, and B-K Motorsports' Yokohama-shod Lola prototype adapted well to the high-speed layout. Devlin started the two-hour, 45-minute race in ninth overall and settled into a solid pace early on. The team elected to pit Devlin during the first caution with 20 minutes complete for four fresh Yokohama tires and fuel. He rejoined and moved up to 6th, battling with the Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Sascha Maassen as well as both Dyson Racing Porsches.
"We knew our race pace was going to be a bit better than our qualifying place," Devlin said. "We had a great start but got pinched and boxed in, so I couldn't go out like last year. I was stuck on the outside. We played it clean and stayed out of trouble. We had a good battle with some of the Dyson and Penske guys."
After slipping back a few positions, Devlin pitted on lap 47, staying in the car for a double stint and once again taking on new tires and fuel. He then made his third and final stop close to the two-hour mark, handing the car over to Bonilla for the final stint. Bonilla settled in kept the car clean and out of trouble, finishing eighth place in class.
"It was trouble-free run and a lot of fun working with the traffic and managing the tires," Bonilla said. "They gave me instructions to be nice to the tires, so it was fun to discover what was the right kind of driving for that. The Yokohamas actually got better as they went. That was the really neat thing. The more I took care of them, the better they got. Right in the middle there, we went pretty good for where we've been all weekend. It was a lot of fun."
John Doonan, Manager, Motorsports Team Development for Mazda, was encouraged by the steady progress made by the B-K Motorsports all weekend. The Bob Bach-owned team overcame minor issues on Saturday and in the morning warm-up to have a trouble-free run in the race.
"It was a tough weekend for us," Doonan said. "This place is awful tough; not only the surface but also the temperatures. There was some early attrition. We were happy to keep it clean. Ben drove a great first two-hour stint. We're proud of that. Now we have a little time off to regroup and get everything ready for Lime Rock. Everybody at Mazda, BP, Yokohama are pretty excited."
The team especially benefited from the turbocharged Mazda MZR-R engine in the high altitude. Every lap, Devlin and Bonilla were able to power their way down the 3500-foot front straight, passing other cars with ease.
"We came back here in the altitude and did really good with the Mazda engine," Devlin added. "It really did do justice here to gain four or five car lengths every time. It felt comfortable with great power. The car was very strong and consistent as well. The Yokohamas stayed consistent throughout."
"We still have a lot of work to do but all of our partners are working really, really hard to make it an even faster package," Bonilla said of the upcoming races. "It just shows that we're making steady progress with a reliable car and that motivates everyone to keep working to get stronger throughout the season."
B-K Motorsports and Yokohama continued its promotion of the film Speed Racer in the Utah Grand Prix as the team's Lola car carried Speed Racer logos. Bonilla, Devlin and team members also wore Speed Racer-designed shirts and driving suits.
With four races now in the books, the Series takes its traditional June break, reconvening at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. on July 11-12 for the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The scenic 1.54-mile, eight-turn circuit should prove to be a fan and driver favorite, as the facility has undergone major renovations since last year.