Crash ends race early for KUMHO and Miracle at Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta Fontana, Calif. - A promising weekend at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta for Miracle Motorsports and KUMHO Tires went unfilled with a race-ending crash.
Crash ends race early for KUMHO and Miracle at Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta
Fontana, Calif. - A promising weekend at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta for Miracle Motorsports and KUMHO Tires went unfilled with a race-ending crash. Driver Jeff Bucknum emerged from the car unscathed after taking a wild ride at 180 mph on the back straight at Road Atlanta. At the time of the crash on lap 51, Bucknum was the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class leader and was fourth overall.
The crash was caused by a loose latch on the car's rear bodywork, the result of contact with a GT2 car a few laps earlier. The latch eventually allowed air to get under the rear bodywork at speed, which tore off the engine cover and the rear wing. The sudden loss of downforce sent the car into a spin and into the wall, damaging the right rear suspension and sending the team home early. Afterwards, Bucknum admitted it was probably his scariest moment in a race car.
"When Jeff got hit that hard by the GT2 car, we should have brought him in to take a look at the car," said Miracle Motorsports team owner John Macaluso. "But we were a lap ahead of the second place car in our class and didn't want to give that lap back with an unnecessary pit stop. I think we got a little too racy that early in the race."
Bucknum and co-driver Chris McMurry started the race second in class and sixth overall, even though the Miracle team had to deal with a number of issues throughout the weekend. A mishap with the car's new paddle shift system on Friday afternoon over-revved the engine, which necessitated an engine change Saturday morning. Then in the pre-race warm-up on Sunday morning, the transmission would not go beyond third gear, so the team removed the paddle shift system and reinstalled the regular gear shifter for the race.
Tires were not an issue for Miracle, as the team's KUMHOs performed well all weekend. The team was running a second stint on its race tires when the accident occurred. "We brought a new compound to the race and tested it briefly on Wednesday," said KUMHO motorsports manager Rudy Consolacion. "It was quicker than the compound we won with at Sebring, but we didn't have a chance to fully test the tires, so we stuck with our Sebring compound."
"We've been pleased and pleasantly surprised with the performance of the KUMHO tires," said Macaluso. "We're going to fully test the new compound and our paddle shift system in preparation for the next race at Mid-Ohio."
NOTES: Miracle drivers Jeff Bucknum, Chris McMurry and Ian James currently sit first in points in the LMP2 class...At a press conference at Road Atlanta on April 15, Porsche announced that it will debut an LMP2 race car at the final two races of the 2005 ALMS season. The car will be campaigned in those two races and in the 2006 season exclusively by Penske Motorsports...The next ALMS race is scheduled for May 20-22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH.
Established in 1960, KUMHO TIRE CO., INC., of Seoul, South Korea, had 2004 sales of $1.6 billion. KUMHO manufactures and distributes a complete line of tires for passenger cars, light trucks and heavy duty trucks. KUMHO has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China and operates technical centers in Birmingham, England, and Akron, Ohio. For more information, visit the KUMHO TIRE USA Web site at www.Kumhotireusa.com.
For more information on Miracle Motorsports or the American LeMans Series, visit www.miraclemotorsports.com and www.americanlemans.com.