Stevenson Camaro Takes Pole, Takes Lead, Takes 20th Place
With just 20 minutes to go driveline failure ends what had been a great weekend
Robin Liddell put the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GT-R on the pole at Watkins Glen for the Canadian Tire 200 and then he took off to lead the GT field lap after lap. Replaced by co-driver Jan Magnussen during a routine pit stop, the good vibrations continued with the Camaro heading a large field of determined GT racers. No one was coming close to the rear taillights of the Chevrolet and the race was looking to be one of the team’s finest ever in the 2011GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 season.
With just 20 minutes to go to the checkered flag, Jan Magnussen slowed on course with a failure in the driveline that found him limping back to the pits. A trip made more onerous by the sight of all those GT cars passing him by as he helplessly ambled along.
Team Manager Mike Johnson: “This was probably one of the best weekends we have had as a team all year or even the last few years in terms of preparation, speed, pit stops, everything until the last 20 minutes when it was all taken away from us. We really out performed the competition in all aspects of the race and had two amazing pit stops which gave us a comfortable lead. Robin and Jan were perfect behind the wheel.”
While the red and white Chevrolet Camaro ran out front for almost the entire race, the rest of the GT field did not back down in their attempt to run at the front. In the end, the Camaro unwillingly pulled aside and gave them the opportunity.
Johnson: “We were just maintaining the gap to Spencer Pumpelly (Porsche) and Jordan Taylor (Camaro) since we knew everyone else had to pit. We were counting down the laps left in the race when something failed in the driveline. It's just another devastating blow to an already horrible year and when it all starts coming together, we find ourselves with another DNF.”
Liddell: “Mike summed the weekend up well; it really was our weekend and what looked like a formality with 20 minutes to go turned into another DNF. In racing, you can never think about a result when it is only in sight but I really didn't expect to have a mechanical failure. It is very disappointing to say the least.” Johnson: “All we can do is keep trying to win and keep testing new parts in preparation for next year.”
Despite this unfortunate ending at Watkins Glen, Stevenson Motorsports remains in 10th place in the season’s GT Team Championship. Chevrolet remains in 3rd place in the Manufacturers Championship. Robin Liddell dropped one place in the Drivers Championship, currently in the16th spot.