Laguna Seca: JMB Racing USA race report

Monterey, California. JMB Racing USA scored a 6th and 13th place finish Sunday at the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team finally overcame the streak of bad luck that had plagued them over the last...

Monterey, California. JMB Racing USA scored a 6th and 13th place finish Sunday at the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team finally overcame the streak of bad luck that had plagued them over the last few races.

After the #28 and #29 Ferrari 360 Modena GTs qualified 13th and 17th respectively, Stephan Gregoire and Stephen Earle slowly began moving their way through the GT field. Gregoire, who shared driving duties with Iradj Alexander and Eliseo Salazar, was running fast and had worked his way up to 8th position by the time of his scheduled pit stop for fuel, tires, and a driver change.

Iradj Alexander jumped behind the wheel of the #28 Ferrari and promptly began picking up positions. Alexander had moved into 5th position when gearbox problems slowly started to arise. The electronics that control the semi-automatic gearbox began to glitch, and it was occasionally skipping gears on upshifts and downshifts. The problem was only happening on rare occurrences, and therefore Iradj did not lose too much time. Alexander had dropped to 6th position when he handed the car over to Salazar. Eliseo drove to the checkered flag and an incident free race, finishing 6th.

Stephen Earle and Mark Neuhaus drove the #29 Ferrari consistently fast, moving them up through the GT field from 17th to finish 13th. Earle, a regular in Ferrari Challenge races, showed his experience in the 360 Modena by gaining over 5 positions within the first hour of the race and was in 12th position when it was time to hand the wheel over to Neuhaus. Although it was Mark Neuhaus' first time in a Ferrari 360 Modena GT, the Sonoma native grew up closely to Laguna Seca and considers the circuit a home track.

"The car is a lot of fun to drive," remarked Neuhaus. "And on a track like Laguna, it's fantastic. We didn't have any problems, and my teammate [Earle] set the car up perfectly. With some seat time under my belt, I am really looking forward to Miami!"

Iradj Alexander acknowledged, "We had a strong run today that was virtually incident free. Besides the small gearbox problem, the car was great. Laguna Seca is a difficult track to get the car set-up correctly with the lack of grip it has, and both Stephan and Eliseo drove an excellent race."

The American Le Mans Series now moves on to Miami, FL for the Grand Prix Americas Sep. 26-27, 2003. The race will be a home race for JMB Racing USA as the team headquarters are located just north of downtown in Miramar, FL. The timed 2 hour and 45 minute event is being coined the "Blast by the Bay", and promises to be quite an event.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Eliseo Salazar , Stephan Gregoire , Stephen Earle , Mark Neuhaus , Alexander Iradj