Laguna Seca: Stevenson Motorsports race report

Stevenson Pontiac GXP-R Knocked Out At Laguna Seca After setting a winning pace two races in a row, the ...

Stevenson Pontiac GXP-R Knocked Out At Laguna Seca

After setting a winning pace two races in a row, the #57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP-R, running in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, suffered a debilitating blow when another GT car collided with them on track during the Rum Bum.com 250 race at Mazda Raceway -- Laguna Seca.

On lap 34, Thomas Merrill, driving the #32 PR1 Motorsports Pontiac GXP-R, ran into the left rear of the Stevenson Pontiac. The impact put Merrill into the gravel trap and severely damaged the rear suspension of the Stevenson car. Andrew Davis was aboard at the time of the impact and he had no choice but to bring the wounded eagle-adorned Stevenson car into the pits for repairs.

Davis: "I was hit by the #32 Pontiac entering turn 11. It was an awfully optimistic move on his part so early in the race. The guys did a great job to replace the left rear corner, but we obviously lost any chance for a decent finish."

A review of the SPEED coverage of the incident shows Merrill simply driving straight into the left rear wheel of Davis' car as they were braking for the left hand turn. Merrill then went straight off into the gravel trap while Davis was able to keep the car moving forward on the road surface, eventually nursing the car back to the pits for repairs.

Davis' co-driver, Robin Liddell commented on the incident and the resultant impact on the team's overall performance when he said, "The damage was pretty extensive, especially to the left rear suspension, but the Stevenson mechanics did an awesome job to get us back into the race again. We lost over six laps getting repairs made but, despite the handling of the Pontiac being tricky after the shunt, we importantly brought it home to earn some valuable points in the championship."

The time lost to repairs was felt most in the 17th place finish, the second lowest for the team this season. They finished 24th at Homestead-Miami Speedway due to a faulty bushing in the steering rack. The team then took back to back wins at Mexico and Virginia, and they were running extremely well at the season opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona before being pushed off track by a Daytona Prototype with just a few hours remaining in the race.

The car has been competitive at every race and when not impacted by a mechanical miscue, or the miscue of another driver impacting the #57 mount in a physical manner, it has been in contention each time.

The disappointing result at Laguna Seca temporarily pushed the Stevenson Team down one place in the overall Team Championship standings, moving them from 3rd to 4th. And Davis and Liddell also dropped down from a three way tie for 3rd place in the driver standings to 7th place overall. With eight races left on the GT class schedule, starting with the Lime Rock GT Classic 250 on May 26th, there still remains many opportunities for this resilient team to bounce right back into serious contention for the overall championship.

-credit: sm

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Robin Liddell , Andrew Davis , Thomas Merrill
Teams Stevenson Motorsports