The No.3 8Star Motorsports team led 34 consecutive laps in the middle of the Diamond Cellar Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, stuck to its pit strategy and finished a strong second for its first podium finish at in its first year of Rolex Grand-Am Series Daytona Prototype competition.
Owner and co-driver Enzo Potolicchio qualified the orange-and-black Chevrolet Corvette DP 11th on Friday and was at the controls when the green flag waved at 4:36 p.m. Eastern Time. Two quick caution periods on the first seven laps of the 2 hour, 45 minute race allowed team manager Gary Neal to make the call to make a driver change after 21 minutes of competition. Enzo pulled down pit road in ninth place and handed the wheel over to Michael Valiante.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 12 and Valiante was focused on the leaders. He picked up three positions in 12 laps and was fifth when the No. 3 was hit from behind by the No. 01. The car did a complete 360-degree spin but Valiante kept control and continued on losing only one position. He actually took back the fifth spot and ran what at the time was his fastest lap of the race before the caution flag waved again on lap 34 after nearly one hour of racing.
The 8Star Motorsports team earned its first podium finish in just its sixth race. The team’s previous best was fourth on March 2 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The No.5 team, with drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, earned the victory 1.427 seconds ahead of the 8Star Motorsports team. The No. 2 team of Ryan Daizel and Alex Popow finished third.
8Star Motorsports is currently seventh in the Grand-Am Rolex Series team standings with 145 points. The No. 5 team is in fifth with 155 points and the No. 10 team leads with 173.
The seventh race of the 2013 Rolex Grand-Am Series Daytona Prototype season is Sunday, June 30 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Green flag for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast live on SPEED and MRN Radio.
“First off, I have to thank the 8Star team. This is a brand new car and Enzo’s done a great job putting this whole program together and it’s just getting better and better each race. We hit it just right in the race. Enzo did a great job in the first stint. For me, I was able to get a good jump in the middle stint and pull away from the field. We lost a little time on the last stop but we had the pace to win today. I think second right now is like winning for this team because we’ve been pushing so hard to get on the podium.”
Enzo Potolicchio (team owner):
“What the team did in six days after the crash in Detroit is just unbelievable. We hired the right guy, Valiante, for the team. We knew his quality and the engineer (Yves Touron) loves him. The feedback Valiante gives is excellent so we knew he was going to do well here. Getting the car ready for Mid-Ohio was a great team effort. It’s unbelievable what these guys did. 8Star is a new team … we were just “born” in November of last year and we promised to be a season contender by the end of the year and here we are contending for the win just halfway through the season. I have to thank Valiante for this podium (finish). It gives everybody even more will to go forward and keep pushing because we want to be one of the top teams and today we showed we can.”