B-K Motorsports Rebounds to Take the Checkers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Monterey, Calif. - What could have been a race-ending gremlin for B-K Motorsports turned into a valuable learning experience Saturday in the American Le Mans Series ...
B-K Motorsports Rebounds to Take the Checkers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, Calif. - What could have been a race-ending gremlin for B-K Motorsports turned into a valuable learning experience Saturday in the American Le Mans Series season-ending Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The Wisconsin-based team's brand-new Lola B08/86 Mazda MZR-R coupe ran strong all weekend long, including the first half of the four-hour race, but a small crack in the exhaust header put drivers Ben Devlin and Gerardo Bonilla on the sidelines while the crew made repairs. The extensive job to replace the part took close to an hour to complete, and Bonilla was on his way to take the BP Lola Mazda to the checkered flag.
"We lost a lot of ground because of the header problem, but getting back in there was really motivating," Bonilla said. "All the Mazda fans up in the suite were clapping and cheering for us when we got back out. That was a great feeling. The guys worked their butts off to get us back out there. We got to basically do a test on our tires and experience more nighttime running, which was great. Driving this coupe has been a dream come true."
Devlin started the Dunlop-shod LMP2 machine from 12th on the grid and quickly made progress up the leader board. The experienced Englishman overcame a series of full-course cautions periods and unfavorable track conditions to also gain valuable experience with the new car.
"It was going very well," Devlin said. "The car felt really good for the start. We've done a lot and have improved in every session, so it's going in the right direction. Unfortunately, we got so many yellows, which didn't play well for us. We were struggling on cold tires all weekend but I think everyone else was too. We learned a lot this weekend that we can take to testing this winter and it was a perfect time today to try some new things for next year."
While the final race results might not show it, Devlin, Bonilla and the entire B-K Motorsports team walked away satisfied with the obstacle they overcame and look forward to starting an extensive winter test program.
"On a whole, the team worked 100 percent," said Devlin, reflecting on the 2008 season. "I'm so happy what they've been able to do all year long. Every one of the team members has come off the disappointments at the beginning of the season when they were thrown in the deep end. We pulled through it and worked hard as a team and also got stronger and stronger as the year went on. That's what it's all about. Now we have a great level to start from for 2009."
There are certainly a lot of positives heading into next year's American Le Mans Series season for the team. With constant progress made all year long with its open-top Lola B07/46 Mazda MZR-R and the encouraging race debut of the brand-new Lola B08/86 Mazda MZR-R coupe this weekend, the Bob Bach-owned organization is hoping to keep that momentum high during the winter months.
"The hard work started back at the shop after we had the incident at Petit Le Mans," said John Doonan, manager, motorsports team development for Mazda North America. "We rebounded and pulled out a huge effort to get here first of all. The broken header set us back a bit, but we fought and made it to the checkered. Now it's time to get to the off-season and continue our development on the project. The landscape of the class is going to change next year, but we'll be there to fight it."