TRG CONTINUES WIN STREAK AT LIME ROCK Continuing a streak that has run since May, TRG took their fourth win in five starts in professional sportscar racing at this weekend's Northeastern Grand Prix, the fifth round of the American Le Mans ...
TRG CONTINUES WIN STREAK AT LIME ROCK
Continuing a streak that has run since May, TRG took their fourth win in five starts in professional sportscar racing at this weekend's Northeastern Grand Prix, the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. This marked the third victory for TRG in the ALMS, the first since returning to the series in 2010, and the first for freshman driver Henri Richard.
Starting in the second position in the no. 63 Freescale Semiconductor/Future Electronics/Green Hills Software/LifeStudio by Hitachi Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, drivers Henri Richard and Andy Lally came in to the weekend as one of the favorites for victory in the GTC category. Having finished on the podium in the last two races, the team was ready for it's first ALMS victory, and many felt the tight confines of the historic Lime Rock Park would fit in to TRG's well known ability with great pit strategy and of course a fantastic driver lineup.
[henriandy.jpg] Following a completely wet first day of practice and qualifying, Henri Richard started the race having only had 10 minutes of dry practice on a track he'd never been too. Using restraint as the better part of valor, Richard drove a cautious yet very competitive opening stint, with careful attention to tire preservation. Taking advantage of an early series of yellows, the team took an unconventional strategy, pitting Richard for fuel and tires with the anticipation that on the next stop, they would do a driver change but leave the same set of tires on the car to minimize time in the pits. For Richard, this meant he had to be extremely careful with his tires in order to hand over a perfect car to veteran Andy Lally. Richard was flawless, and managed to not only hand a perfect car over, but take the lead in the process.
"The guys called me in to top up and change tires, and I instantly knew that the tires I had were going to be Andy's tires as well," stated the Frenchman. "I have never driven this track before so I just wanted to drive well within my limits and hand over a perfect car to Andy. This team was absolutely flawless this weekend. Perfect car preparation, perfect pit stops, perfect strategy, and the whole event happened in front of over 100 guests on-hand from our partners at Freescale, Future Electronics, Green Hills Software, and Hitachi. To lead my first laps, as well as win my first ALMS race like this is something I'll enjoy for a long, long time."
With the reigns now in Andy Lally's hands, the theme moved to gaining positions both on the track and in the pits. Making good use of passing opportunities and hard driving, Lally carved through the field quickly, and before halfway in the race had actually taken the lead thanks to opportune pit strategy. Dueling hard with the no. 54 Black Swan Racing entry of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Lally and Bleekemolen would push each other hard throughout the next hour, even making contact and spinning at one point as they battled the endless rounds of traffic passing through.
Finally, with 70 minutes to go, Bleekemolen slowed with a fading set of tires, followed by a broken splitter which essentially sealed the race for Lally. The victory was the first for Richard, as well as the first since the team's return to ALMS competition, and equally important means that Richard and Lally have assumed the GTC series points lead.
For Lally, who won the race on tires that lasted nearly 120 laps, Saturday's race was a perfect combination of fast but patient driving, combined with a perfect team effort. "With all the traffic out there, chasing Jeroen and preserving the tires at the same time made for a really challenging race," stated Lally. "These guys called a perfect race today, and Henri was absolutely fantastic out there. For his first season in the series he's driving like an absolute professional, and I'm very proud to be part of his first professional victory."
For Team Owner Kevin Buckler, present in spirit for the race weekend, winning at Lime Rock was a long awaited victory.
"We've been so close to winning in the ALMS all year, I'm so proud of the guys for getting it done," stated Buckler. "Henri was flawless and really delivered exactly when he needed to, and of course Andy did what he needed to in order to deliver the victory. Perfect strategy and perfect pit stops are a big part of these wins, and the guys all delivered. It's been a long and brutal schedule for a lot of our guys, so I'm happy they could end their travels with a big win like this."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron will be in two weeks at the famous Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.