Robertson Racing glad to survive chaos at Mid-Ohio
Robertson Racing were delighted to see both of its Ford GTs merely make it to the finish at Mid-Ohio last weekend as torrential rain ensured the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron’s fifth round of 2011 was a nerve-racking affair.
But although the Braselton, (GA)-based outfit were relieved to come home unscathed seventh and 14th in the GT class, it was a case of what might have been, especially for the #04 machine.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington isn’t one that has traditionally favoured the iconic Ford, but the team were in confident mood after testing on Tuesday when new signing Melanie Snow got to grips with the #40 all-female-crewed car she would share with Andrea Robertson for the first time.
The track had evolved dramatically in time for Friday’s qualifying however with Anthony Lazzaro doing well to put the #04 GT 10th in class despite suffering a broken sway bar, while the sister machine lined up four places further back.
David Murry then produced another of his excellent first stints on Saturday afternoon to keep the car in contention by the time he pitted at the end of the first hour. With Lazzaro aboard the team should have maintained their charge but were soon notified of a stop/go penalty for a pitlane infringement which would ultimately cost them a potential top-five finish.
The #40 car meanwhile had run solidly in the hands of Robertson during the first 75 minutes before Snow was able to sample her first taste of the Ford in race conditions even if her time behind the wheel was punctuated throughout by a number of caution periods. She needed to be particularly alert on one such occasion however when the Safety Car broke down!
Then, with 45 minutes remaining, the heavens opened. Despite the entire field pitting for wet tyres, it soon became clear that conditions were just too severe to continue as cars aquaplaned off the circuit. With just ten minutes left a decision was taken to stop the race, leaving the clock to run down to zero as the drivers sat patiently in the pits.
Lazzaro’s experience and the Ford’s good balance in wet conditions helped the #04 car salvage seventh after a frustrating day while Snow, who had never driven the Ford in the rain before, was able to avoid the pitfalls of others to finish 14th.
Andrew ‘H’ Smith, Team Manager: “What a crazy race! There was so much going on out there that we’re all relieved to see both cars back in one piece. The team are obviously feeling frustrated about #04’s penalty. We had good race pace after struggling for a balance in practice and qualifying and could have been a couple of positions better off. Such severe conditions often throw up unpredictable results so perhaps we’ve missed an opportunity there. On the other side of the garage we were all really impressed with Melanie who showed what she was capable of in the dry and maintained a cool head when it rained. She’s had a baptism of fire this weekend, that’s for sure!
Robertson Racing will be hoping for slightly more consistent conditions when the ALMS continues at Road America on August 18-20.