Alex Job: "If we would have come in, we could have got out of the pits in first place and controlled the race from the front."
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen drove the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche to a fourth place GTC finish in today's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix.
MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL) started the white and black Porsche from pole position. Before the drop of the green flag, the field got bunched in the final turn and out of order, creating a havoc filled drag race out of the turn to the green flag.
The race went green again and the team was watching the clock to ensure that MacNeil drove his allotted time. As luck would not have it, track position conspired against them to the tune of about 30 seconds causing them to leave the University of Colorado at Buffalo student out while the rest of the GTC field pitted.
The mere 30 seconds, in a short two-hour race, meant the difference between pitting and exiting in the lead and finishing fourth.
"The start was very chaotic," MacNeil said. "Everyone was out of line, by the time we got down in the last three turns. I got passed before the green even came out. At the beginning, the car was not that easy to drive.
As the fuel load got lighter, it started to come back. The team had a good strategy planned, but the timing of the second yellow and our track position meant it didn't work out. Even though we were not on the podium we had a good points day."
Bleekemolen knows the challenges of running street courses.
"Today we were very unlucky," Bleekemolen said. "Street circuits make it very hard to pass.
We missed our window for the driving time by about 30 seconds. We had to pit one lap later than the other cars in GTC, which put us back to fifth.
It is hard to make up that gap with the faster traffic always overtaking you. It is tough when the race comes down to just 30 seconds. But the race is short, and we were just unlucky."
Alex Job, team owner, had his team in a position to take advantage of the short event... "Street racing is tough," Job said. "We had a strategy that was all ready to play out.
Under the second caution when we were supposed to pit we were just unlucky with our track position and could not come in with the rest of the GTC field.
If we would have come in, we could have got out of the pits in first place and controlled the race from the front. Thirty seconds made all the difference in our two-hour race. It was too much to ask Jeroen to take it back to the front in the time left without any more yellow flags."