BRASELTON, Ga. (October 22, 2012) – A competitive run in Dempsey Racing’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda debut came to an early end Saturday at Road Atlanta after a pair of avoidable contact incidents with the team’s No. 27 Trina Solar/Drink GNC/Motegi Racing Lola-Judd forced the P2-class entry and drivers Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster and Dane Cameron to retire from the premier American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón endurance race just past the halfway mark.
“It was a good little way to open the race, with a nice little triple stint there, almost three hours,” Cameron said. “The car was running well, we had a couple little issues here and there but we were able to tune those out with adjustments in the cockpit so everything, for the most part, was going smooth and we were just chipping away at laps, minding our own business and staying out of trouble.”
Trouble soon found the No. 27, however, as a bizarre “accordion crash” under caution at the end of Foster’s solid opening triple stint sent the Dempsey Racing team scrambling. The melee actually saw Foster forced into the back end of Dempsey Racing’s sister PC- class Silicon Tech Racing No. 25 STANDD/Racer’s Roast Oreca FLM09 with Henri Richard at the wheel.
“It was pretty frustrating,” Foster said. “I guess maybe some of the folks aren’t quite up on the pace car rules in the U.S. but the pace car came out to pick up the overall leader that wasn’t in front of us and somebody three or four cars ahead of our teammate Henri in our 25 car decided to slam on their brakes and it caused a big stack up. Maybe they were slowing down to have a look at the pace car or something, see what kind of car it was, I don’t know what their deal was, but everybody locked up their brakes and I slid into the back of Henri. Luckily the 25 was able to continue but we lost major time after being in fourth and having a reasonably good run considering the competition we were up against.”
The Dempsey Racing crew quickly repaired the Lola-Judd but returned to the race, now with Dempsey at the wheel, several laps down and with no realistic chance at victory. The team shifted its focus to development and gaining some valuable experience for Dempsey only to see even that effort soon thwarted by another contact incident.
“The car was much better than in qualifying,” Dempsey said. “Dane did a great job in his first stint, he did a triple stint, so he was doing a great job and positioned us nicely and Joe did a great job in his three stints. We were in striking distance certainly and we had a shot to get onto the podium, but the first setback ruined our chances. Then it was just a question of getting more seat time and more experience. The guys did a great job getting the car back together and back out, and I felt good. I was out running around, was really good in traffic, had a great restart and stayed out of trouble for the most part. Then I think I got behind another car on cold tires and he lost it, over steered coming out of Turn 7 and came across the front of me. I had nowhere to go because I was already going past him, and that was that. I am OK and had a good time all around even though we didn’t make it to the finish for the first time this year.”
Despite the obvious disappointment, the Dempsey Racing team and all three drivers left Road Atlanta encouraged by a respectable showing in what was the debut Petit Le Mans for the team, Dempsey and Cameron. Foster was running his first Petit since 2004.
“It was cool,” Cameron said. “When I ran at Mid-Ohio in the P2 car for the first time I only got in at the end, so I didn’t really get to race with anybody. So it was fun at the beginning, I got to race with a few guys, get a little wheel-to-wheel action, which is always good fun, that’s the way I like to race. It certainly wasn’t an ideal ending to our week at Petit Le Mans but Joe and Patrick both had great stints and I think we were on form for a good result. So, it's a disappointing note to end on but I am very thankful to Patrick and Joe for the chance to race with them and look forward to Sebring 2013!”
Petit Le Mans was only the fifth race for the Dempsey Racing No. 27 Trina Solar/Drink GNC/Motegi Racing Lola-Judd in what was a partial debut season of development in ALMS in 2012.
“This is still a development program for sure and it was good to have the European teams here to see where we were at,” Foster said. “We have a lot to learn still, strategically and race craft, and knowing the event and track we ran top-five in a car that really was not a top-five car. We all know that Dane can drive the wheels off of anything, and given where the car qualified we knew where the car was and as a team we got up to second or third, so we are happy.”
Dempsey is also encouraged about the future after a challenging but rewarding first experience in top rank sports car racing prototype competition this year.
“We knew going into this year that it was going to be a learning year for us,” Dempsey said. “We knew we were going to make mistakes, and we knew we needed to understand what we needed to do next year not to make those mistakes and to improve as a team. I think the whole exercise has been really good, we know exactly what we need to focus on next year. We need more testing, we need to be away from the crowds and go out and make mistakes and find the edge. We’ve been doing that publicly this year and with that comes the good and the bad. But I’m having a great time. I thought it drove really well, have got work on the conditioning a little bit more, but my pace considering my experience level was good to build on. It’s going to be a good year next year.”
Source: Dempsey Racing