AIM Autosport Watkins Glen race report

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AIM Autosport

AIM Autosport Celebrates Fourth Place for GAMMA88 Car
Drivers Stretch Fuel and Tire Use To Achieve Result

#61 AIM Autosport: Burt Frisselle, Mark Wilkins
#61 AIM Autosport: Burt Frisselle, Mark Wilkins

Photo by: Ted Rossino

Watkins Glen, NY (August 14, 2011) — AIM Autosport celebrated a fourth-place finish for its BMW-Riley sponsored by GAMMA88 yesterday evening thanks to a clever race strategy and car setup that conserved fuel and tires. AIM’s driving team of Burt Frisselle and Mark Wilkins worked hard to deliver all that was asked of them by Chief Engineer Ian Willis.

The Canadian Tire 200 at The Glen started at 6pm and Burt held his seventh-place starting spot through the early laps showing excellent pace. He held the race’s second-fastest lap until the race’s only caution period, when he was called in for fuel just eleven laps into the race. Clearly the team had made progress since its disappointing qualifying session.

Following the quick top up which put the team on its own pitstop schedule, Burt was sent on his way. Unfortunately, he was released as another car was rolling down pit lane and, not alerted the the presence of the other car, Burt turned into its path resulting in the left side of the spoiler being torn off. Burt resumed racing in eighth place and the team elected to continue without stopping for repairs even though there was a performance penalty from the damage.

As other teams began reaching their pitstop windows, AIM’s GAMMA88 car edged toward the front, eventually claiming the lead and holding it for 22 laps before finally stopping for fuel, tires and a driver change.

When Burt stopped, Mark jumped in the car while the the crew installed fresh tires and fueled the car to the brim again. With about 50 minutes to go, Mark rejoined in fifth place while the crew had a look at the tires that had just been removed. Burt had made them last much longer than any other driver and they were truly finished with chunks of rubber missing from the surface.

With 30 minutes remaining, Mark was up to fourth and running competitive lap times to maintain the position. Meanwhile, he was nursing a vibrating tire and stretching fuel to reach the finish. And, don’t forget that missing piece of spoiler, robbing him of downforce—another thing to think about.

Like Burt, Mark managed everything well and brought the car home with the fuel nearly spent and the tires looking rather ragged. No mean feat in a race that had an average speed of 122.308 mph (196.83565 km/h), a new record for the Rolex Sports Car Series.

“First, I want to thank GAMMA88 for their support which allowed us to be here,” said Burt. “And I’m really proud of the whole AIM Autosport team because it’s hard to remain competitive while running a partial season. To lead 22 laps and score a top finish is a testament to this team’s work.

“Fourth was great, but we know what we can do to make the car even better. We hope to take the fight to the top two cars in Montreal.”

“Great day for AIM Autosport! We worked hard all weekend to get the most out of the car,” said Mark. “Thanks to the crew and thanks to BMW for providing a great engine with great fuel mileage. I'm excited about our new-found momentum and look forward to Montreal!”

"I’m very happy to have a fourth-place after practice when we struggled for pace a bit,” said Ian. “We used our BMW fuel economy to our advantage and our race strategy played out well. Now that we have fourth-place finishes well sorted, we look forward to Montreal.”

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Series GRANDAM
Tags aim autosport, bmw, grand-am, watkins glen