Road Atlanta: Fernandez Racing early out race report

Early Day for Lowe's Fernandez Racing at Petit Le Mans It wasn't the result Lowe's Fernandez Racing hoped for in its Petit Le Mans debut. Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz rebounded from significant damage after an on-track incident in the 10th ...

Early Day for Lowe's Fernandez Racing at Petit Le Mans

It wasn't the result Lowe's Fernandez Racing hoped for in its Petit Le Mans debut. Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz rebounded from significant damage after an on-track incident in the 10th running of the endurance classic only to find their efforts thwarted by another case of bad luck later in the race.

Fernandez assumed initial driving duties in the 1,000-mile/10-hour race and maintained a strong, steady pace in the early stages. He was running fourth in class when he entered pit lane on Lap 56, nearing the two-hour mark, for a yellow flag pit stop to turn the controls over to Diaz. Bad luck struck the team for the first time four laps later.

As the race returned to green on Lap 61, the #6 P2 Porsche of Ryan Briscoe had contact with the #10 P1 Zytek of Darren Manning at the exit of Turn 7. Manning spun, blocking the track and leaving Diaz nowhere to go. He made light contact with Manning, but was then hit from behind by the #37 P1 Lola driven by Clint Field who also was a victim of wrong place, wrong time.

The #15 Lowe's Acura Lola suffered significant damage to the rear wing, undertray, right rear suspension and also front bodywork damage. The team returned to the garage and was able to make the necessary repairs in just under 60 minutes. Diaz returned to the track on Leader Lap 115 with seven hours remaining in the race. He was shown eighth in class, 26th overall and 54 laps down.

Diaz was able to run a competitive pace, reporting only a slight understeer problem, as the team tried to salvage as many points as possible. Unfortunately, bad luck struck the team again 27 laps later when the right rear tire came off the #15 machine in the Esses -- a fast, sweeping turn section of the course. Diaz managed to avoid heavy contact with the wall and attempted to drive back to pit lane. However, the differential would not drive the car without the missing wheel. Diaz was towed to Turn 5 where he was forced to retire.

Lowe's Fernandez Racing will hope for better luck as they head west to Monterey, Calif., for the ALMS season finale -- the Monterey Sports Car Championship -- at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20.

Adrian Fernandez, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"It was a bad day for us. We had a good plan and good strategy but unfortunately we couldn't get to the end. This race is not about speed; it is about getting to the end. We had a bad break when Luis had nowhere to go. We had a good car, and we were saving fuel and taking care of the equipment. It's unfortunate our day came to an early end."

Luis Diaz, #15 Lowe's Acura Lola:
"It was a tough race for me. The first lap [of my stint], I had an incident that I couldn't avoid. The cars in front of me touched and one of them spun. It didn't give me any room at all on the track and I made contact. Then I was hit from behind. I had quite a bit of damage to the car. We pitted and the guys did a great job to fix the car quickly. When I went back to the track, the car felt pretty decent. Unfortunately, the rear wheel came off and that ended our day. I feel bad for everyone because we did the right things today, but this is racing. We didn't have luck on our side today."

-credit: fr

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Darren Manning , Adrian Fernandez , Luis Diaz , Clint Field