PCM barged out of Sonoma challenge Sonoma, California (July 17, 2005) - Pacific Coast Motorsports ("PCM") headed into this weekend's fifth round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series ("ALMS"), the 'Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma', ...
PCM barged out of Sonoma challenge
Sonoma, California (July 17, 2005) - Pacific Coast Motorsports ("PCM") headed into this weekend's fifth round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series ("ALMS"), the 'Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma', looking for a strong GT1 result with the #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R but instead found themselves posting their first retirement in five rookie starts.
Contact at Turn One between the #1 Champion Audi R8 prototype, being driven ambitiously by Marco Werner, and PCM pilot Alex Figge resulted in the privateer Corvette C5-R spinning off-track and ultimately into retirement just after the two-hour marker, dashing PCM's hopes of a fifth consecutive top ten overall finish in the process.
Today's 2-hour 45-minute endurance sprint had started well for the PCM crew, competing in their native-California for the first time this season, with Ryan Dalziel taking command of the first driving stint. The Scottish charger took the fight to the team's closest GT1 rival, the #35 Maserati MC12. With 25 laps chalked off the 2.53-mile Infineon Raceway, Dalziel was a mere 0.8s off the back of the MC12 and pressuring Andrea Bertolini for track position.
The Italian held his ground to keep Dalziel in check but he failed to shake off the 23-year-old Scot, the gap between the pair never more than a second until the Maserati pitted with just over an hour on the clock.
Sitting fourth in class and ninth overall Dalziel subsequently pitted with 43-laps passing. Alex Figge jumped into the PCM hot seat and the American racer roared back on track with four new Yokohama's and a full tank of gas.
The privateer Corvette C5-R had slipped back to fifth in GT1 during the pit with Figge's immediate objective to take the fight back to the Maserati. At the head of the class the #3 Corvette C6-R, piloted by Fellows/O'Connell, headed the #4 sister entry of Gavin/Beretta with the #63 Saleen S7R of Mowlem/Borcheller rounding out the top three.
Despite Figge's best efforts the mid-race pace of the Maserati, with Fabrizio De Simone driving, proved too much for the veteran C5-R and with an hour to go and 65-laps completed the former Toyota Atlantic winner found the gap to the Italian in fourth place increasing. Nine laps later Figge briefly found himself back in the top ten running order, courtesy of the Maserati's second stop, but for PCM that was about as good as it got as just a few minutes later their race efforts were cut short dramatically.
An overly aggressive pit exit from the Champion Audi R8, being driven by Le Mans winner Marco Werner, speared the LM1 car into Alex Figge just as the American was holding his line through Turn One. With the German barging his way back on track, contact between the front left of the #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette and the front right of the LM1 prototype sent a helpless Figge into a violent spin and subsequently off-track and into the barriers.
Figge took a big hit but emerged unscathed from the incident. With a full course caution brought out by the accident, racing eventually resumed with 25 minutes remaining, minus the participation of the #5 Menards-Yokohama Corvette C5-R.
The GT1 battle was won by the #3 Corvette C6-R while overall race honors went to the #2 Champion Audi R8 pairing of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro.
Tyler Tadevic - PCM Team Director:
"We definitely had a shot of a fourth place class finish today but ultimately it wasn't to be. Werner's driving exiting the pits was unnecessarily aggressive and it took us out of the race. We see this from some of the LM1 drivers and unfortunately today's incident was another example of some unprofessional driving from those guys when it really wasn't called for. Alex had a big hit but thankfully he's ok."
Alex Figge (United States) - PCM Driver:
"We were getting ready to pit for the second time when the Audi came back out on track and collected me. I hit the barrier pretty hard and we were out on the spot with broken shocks and uprights. I guess these things happen in racing but I was holding my line through the turn and the Audi came charging out. We're getting tired of the way the LM1 guys act out on track, they have the faster cars but should be more aware of what's happening around them."
Ryan Dalziel (Scotland) - PCM Driver:
"It was great to be able to keep pace with the Maserati and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen until our race ended in the barriers. I had a good time racing, it was encouraging to fight for position and we really stretched out our fuel mileage. We had a good pit stop, the guys really work hard on getting them right and today was another great example."
The ALMS remains on the west coast but heads north to Oregon for Round 6, the 'Portland Grand Prix', 29th-31st July, at the Portland International Raceway.