Sean Rayhall qualified the team’s #25 ORECA FLM09 LMPC machine 3rd in the Prototype Challenge class.
Rayhall was the first to get behind the wheel in free practice one and initially held the top spot before being dropped to third place, with some improvements still to be made to 8Star’s orange LMPC contender.
Mexican Luis Diaz got his shot in the latter stages of first practice, but was severely hampered by excessive traffic and ultimately had his running curtailed by a red-flag stoppage.
Practice two was a completely different story, as both drivers reported significant improvements in the feel of the car and this was represented by Rayhall’s and Diaz’s lap times, which were a match for anybody.
As the tires degraded, the car lost grip. However, 8Star still managed to maintain fourth place on the timing screens.
Yet more improvements came in Saturday’s qualifying session and Rayhall opened his account with a time of 1m20.421s to go third fastest, with pole-sitter Bruno Junqueira on a 1m19.723s and almost five tenths up on the rest of the field.
Rayhall, from Atlanta, Georgia, said: “Practice felt good and we made changes on the car that moved us in the right direction for qualifying. I’m really happy with third place, as this is 8Star’s first visit to Laguna Seca with LMPC machinery. Yves, our engineer, worked really hard, even though we didn’t have much time to practice. I’m really thankful to have Takis on the car supporting us this weekend and for the rest of this year’s sprint races. To win is the objective. In fact, I’m really looking forward to the race, as I think we have a good car and two really good drivers.”
Diaz, from Mexico City, said: “The track changed a lot between FP1 and FP2 as there was a lot less grip. But the car feels good and 8Star Motorsports did a great job to fix some details on the car. I feel pretty good about qualifying third and, if we can stay out of trouble and have a clean race, I’m sure we’ll produce a great result for our new sponsor, Takis, and perhaps finish on the podium.”