Watkins Glen: PR1 Motorsports race report

STRONG SHOWING IN LONGEST RACEFORFOREST AND MERRILL Series rookies show well in first six-hour race June 9, 2008 (Edmonton, Alberta) -- In his fourth outing in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, Mike Forest again partnered with ...

STRONG SHOWING IN LONGEST RACEFORFOREST AND MERRILL Series rookies show well in first six-hour race

June 9, 2008 (Edmonton, Alberta) -- In his fourth outing in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, Mike Forest again partnered with fellow series rookie Thomas Merrill in the Konica Minolta / Miracle Sealants Pontiac GXP.R to tackle their longest challenge to date: the Sahlen's Six Hours at the Glen.

Forest was tasked with qualifying in a very crowded field of 45 cars, 26 of which were also competing in the competitive GT class. Forest, a first-time visitor to the Watkins Glen facility, put the car 20th in class for the endurance race.

"Our goals for the race were simple," said Forest. "Stay out of trouble, preserve the car, and stay on the lead lap."

Forest had a safe opening lap despite the chaos of having 45 cars battling, as well as and an early caution for heavy contact between two other GT cars, and began to make steady progress through the field. On the nineteenth lap, however, Forest was hit from behind by the Pontiac of Diego Alessi. The resulting spin saw Forest go a lap down to the GT leader. Sixteen laps later, Forest was hit again, this time by the Daytona Prototype of David Donahue in turn two, but both cars continued without problem.

Merrill's stint in the middle of the race was an exercise in fuel strategy, as having gone a lap down early in the race, the PR1 Motorsports made full use of the race's numerous yellow flags to improve their fuel mileage. At one point, the Pontiac GXP.R progressed to eighth in class.

Unfortunately, bad luck would strike again as Forest, leaving his box after his final pitstop, hit a tire placed in front of his car by a crew member from the pit immediately ahead. Due to the contact, Forest was penalized with a sixty-second stop-and-go penalty. The front splitter of the team's GXP.R was damaged from hitting the tire, but Forest's final stint went by without major incident, and he brought the car home in twelfth place -- a remarkable improvement from their starting position.

The result was also a strong comeback for the team, which was knocked out of their previous race at Laguna Seca before Forest was able to get in the car. And, being by far the longest race that the team had competed in, Forest was thrilled that the team saw the checkered flag in its first six-hour race.

"We really wanted to get the car home this time," said Forest. "This is a very competitive series and we are learning with each race. I am enjoying sportscar racing immensely. It's very challenging, especially when you factor in all of the things that contribute to success in an endurance race, like the six-hour. Sometimes the outside factors work for you, and sometimes they don't. But we'll keep learning and come back strong, like the PR1 Motorsports team always does."

"It is unfortunate that we suffered through some things that were out of our control," added Merrill. "The car was handling really well and we got ourselves up to eighth, and then we had some bad luck."

Forest will be back in the #32 Konica Minolta / Miracle Sealants Pontiac GXP.R for the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio, June 20-22.

-credit: www.pr1motorsports.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Alessi Diego , Thomas Merrill , Mike Forest