Utah: Highcroft Racing race report

Highcroft Racing Finishes Fifth in LMP1 Class At Miller Motorsports Park Saturday TOOELE, Utah, July 15 - Sometimes racers think they should have placed a lot higher. Sometimes racers think they were lucky to have finished as high as they did.

Highcroft Racing Finishes Fifth in LMP1 Class At Miller Motorsports Park Saturday

TOOELE, Utah, July 15 - Sometimes racers think they should have placed a lot higher. Sometimes racers think they were lucky to have finished as high as they did. And sometimes, like on Saturday night at Miller Motorsports Park, racers like Highcroft Racing's Duncan Dayton and Andy Wallace are thankful to finish right about where they started.

After Wallace qualified the Danbury, Conn.-based team's Lola fifth in the LMP1 class and seventh overall for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix race, he and Dayton kept it in that spot for more than two hours of the two-hour-and-45-minute American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. They moved up to sixth overall on lap 53, two hours and 13 minutes into the race, when the driver who was in fourth place overall, Romain Dumas, pitted his Porsche RS Spyder No. 7. Despite two close calls for Wallace afterwards, the Highcroft entry took the checkered flag 32 minutes later fifth in LMP1 and sixth overall.

Although they were models of consistency in the standings, both Dayton and Wallace said their Lola EX257 AER No. 9 was very inconsistent throughout the race and neither was quite sure why it handled like it did. After four different races earlier in the day when cars ventured on and off the course, dragging dust onto the track each time, the 4.5-mile road course was very dirty. They added that excessive rubber pick-up on the tires also contributed to the problem, as well as the changing cloud conditions and temperatures in the 100s.

All and all Dayton, of Danbury, Conn., who started the race, and Wallace, of Buckingham, England, who brought it home, were glad to finish.

A tire was going down when Dayton brought the car into the pits for its first of three pit stops on lap 27, one hour and seven minutes into the event. After four fresh Dunlop tires and fuel, Wallace got it back underway very quickly and drove the rest of the way.

The entry got a couple of laps down as the event progressed and ran most of the rest of the way on a lap by itself. Wallace moved into sixth overall, still fifth in LMP1, on lap 53, two hours and 13 minutes into the race, when Dumas pitted.

Wallace stopped two hours and 18 minutes into the race for fuel only. Then he had a close call when he had to swerve leaving the pits to avoid hitting Dumas, who had stopped just past the pit exit. The event's only full-course caution waved a couple minutes due to Dumas' precarious position.

The Highcroft entry was good to go the rest of the way on fuel but Wallace was experiencing a lot of rubber pick-up on his tires so he pitted again on lap 60, two hours and 34 minutes into the race, for four more fresh tires. He had a close call getting into the pits at that point due to a lot of traffic, but he made it out unscathed and continued on until the checkered.

The race will be broadcast on a one-day tape-delayed basis at 2 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow on CBS. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro won the 65-lap event, the ALMS's first at this course near Salt Lake City, in an Audi R10.

Wallace will also drive with Dayton at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore. next weekend; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Aug. 17-20; and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Oct. 19-21.

Driver quotes follow:

Duncan Dayton:

"Our car was very inconsistent from lap to lap. I don't know why. I don't know if it was the tire pick-up, the dust, the changing cloud cover or what, but it was really a handful to drive. I had to try my hardest to keep it on the track.

"I had a slow puncture on my left front tire towards the end of my stint too.

"We were going to do two pit stops but we ended up doing three because of all the pick-up on the tires. But we were on a lap by ourselves so it didn't affect our position.

"That was our first finish as an entrant, so that makes us happy. But the car wasn't as good today as it was in qualifying, and right now we don't know why.

"I almost got hit in the face once by a bird. It was close, but both the bird and I made it."

Andy Wallace:

"The car was not a happy car today. I don't know where we went wrong, but really it was very difficult to drive.

"I had a couple of close calls. I was trying to come into the pits once and I got squashed in a Dyson sandwich.

"And there was a car parked on pit exit when I was trying to come out of the pits, and I had to dodge him.

"I'm perplexed about why the car handled the way it did today, and I'm just glad we finished, actually."

-hr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Duncan Dayton , Frank Biela , Romain Dumas , Emanuele Pirro