PRIMETIME RACE GROUP TAKES HOME A TOP FIVE GT2 FINISH IN THE 56TH 12 HOURS OF SEBRING Primetime Race Group and their ...
PRIMETIME RACE GROUP TAKES HOME A TOP FIVE GT2 FINISH IN THE 56TH 12 HOURS OF SEBRING
Primetime Race Group and their #11 ALMS GT2 Dodge Viper took the checkered flag after 295 grueling laps for a fifth in class and 17th overall finish in their 12 Hour debut.
As the week started for the new ALMS GT2 team, Primetime Race Group would have their hands full with not only the 12 Hour race in site, but two races within the IMSA Lites Series as well. Joel Feinberg (team owner and driver) would take on double duty all week jumping in and out of his support series Elan DP-02 and the much bigger and untamed Dodge Viper. Despite the completely different styles of driving between the high down force sports racer and the GT2 beast Feinberg would record back to back second place finishes as well as log the fastest overall race lap for the Thursday and Friday races presented by Hankook Tires USA.
The #11 Dodge Viper Comp Coupe piloted by Feinberg and co-driver Chris Hall would start the race from 13th in class due to the cancelation of the official qualifying session in which the team had posted a 2:05 lap time. When the green flag dropped, it was Feinberg coming out of turn seventeen mowing down the #007 Aston Martin followed by the Robertson Racing GT40. From there it would be a one hour and twenty minute first stint for the rookie driver in his debut at the 12 Hour occupying spots throughout the top ten while ripping around the treacherous 3.7 mile track.
At the team's first pit stop, Feinberg would turn the duties over to Hall who would also be making his first appearance in Sebring for the 12 Hour. As the first few hours went on, Feinberg and Hall would settle into a groove, running consistent and conservative lap times being mindful of the fact that this was the Comp Coupes first ALMS race in GT2 spec and the reliability would be questionable.
As the only two man team with the entire GT field, Feinberg and Hall were not only putting their car to the test but their own stamina as well. "The first stint in the race was the hottest I've ever been in a race car, my eyeballs felt like they were on fire and I could feel dehydration setting in" said Feinberg. Once the drivers decided to stuff bags of ice into their drivers suits to make up for the much anticipated a/c system which most other GT cars use, the athletes began to feel more alert and efficient at the wheel.
Throughout the day as other teams were dropping left and right, the Viper and its Primetime team would continue to prove itself against the other GT2 new comers in the Doran Ford GT40, the Aston Martin DB9, and the Riley C6 Corvette as well as the known favorites in the Ferraris and Porsches. The team had made it to the ¾ mark in the race before unexpectedly needing to take a long pit stop in order to do a front brake change. "It's a tough car on the brakes and we were hoping to get through without having to burn the clock on a pad change but we reached our limit and had to make a judgment call in order to safely finish the race" said Brent O'Neill (crew chief and team manager) of the Primetime squad.
As the race went into the night and the team had made it up to the front half of the field they would have to face driving with only one head light due to contact earlier in the day making it almost impossible to see the corners on the already notoriously dark Sebring race track. As if that weren't enough, they had encountered a power steering leak leaving it up to the driver to muscle through the turns. After six hours and thirty four minutes of driving and moving the car only five back of the lead Feinberg would turn over the Viper to Hall for the last leg of the race.
As the LMP leaders came around to take the checkered the Primetime powered Viper made it into the top five in class behind the factory supported Ferraris and Porsches and 13th overall making the team the first place privateer finisher as well as the highest placed American manufactured car on the track for the GT2 division, taking success over the Panoz Esperante, the Doran Ford GT, and the Riley Chevrolet Corvette C6.
"I couldn't be more excited about this fifth place finish, 2008 will be our first year for Primetime to complete an entire ALMS season and fifth place is not a bad way to start. We are determined to get this program to the podium, my guys have worked all winter to retool this car from a GT3 spec into a competitive GT2 car and we won't stop until we get there" said team owner and lead driver Joel Feinberg