SEBRING, Fla., Saturday, March 16, 2002 - Shane Lewis opened the 2002 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with a fifth-place (in GTS-class) finish at The 50th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Dodge at Sebring International Raceway today.
SEBRING, Fla., Saturday, March 16, 2002 - Shane Lewis opened the 2002 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with a fifth-place (in GTS-class) finish at The 50th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Dodge at Sebring International Raceway today. The Jupiter, Florida resident charged from 56th qualifying spot, fighting intense heat and an intermittent electrical gremlin, to finish 18th overall. In the process, Lewis set the car's quickest laps of the week during the 12-hour endurance classic. This top-five finish maintains Lewis' streak of fifth-place or better in each of the ALMS GTS-class races in-which he has competed for American Viperacing (AVR).
"That was the hottest race I think I have ever been in," smiled Lewis from the team's pits immediately following the event. "We fell back early on when I had to come in to try and fix an electrical problem that plagued us the whole 12-hours. All things considered, with the heat and lack of track time, the car really held up well. I was really impressed with these new Pirelli tires. They did a great job for us all race long. I was expecting a lot of things to happen today but setting our fastest laps during the race wasn't one of them. The American Viperacing guys did a great job under difficult circumstances."
Temperatures during the day were well above 80-degrees (F) with temperatures inside the #45 Dodge Viper GTS-R exceeding 150-degrees. Lewis' intense physical workout routine benefited him during the hours of incredible heat. The team's first lap on the track for the weekend was Lewis' qualifying effort on Thursday. He then ran a handful of laps in practice with a quick time of 2 minutes and 9.537 seconds on Friday. He obliterated those times by turning a 2:05.956 lap on the 154th circuit of 289 total laps turned by the car today.
"I hope all the guys in turn-10 enjoyed the show," said Lewis of his fan club that set-up their annual cheering section in Sebring's 10th turn. "This was one of the most competitive fields in the 50-year history of Sebring and I am just proud to be a part of it and to finish with a top-five. A podium would have been awesome but to get this close is pretty impressive after the weekend we have had. This is going to be an incredible year of racing in the ALMS. If we can do all the development on this car we plan we should be competing for podiums and wins by the end of the season."
"To finish this race was a big thing for the American Viperacing #45," reflected a happy but not satisfied Lewis. "We had almost no laps in the car before the green flag and the car had just enough modifications to make it different for us but not enough to get us up there with the other Vipers, the Saleens and the Vettes. We have some big plans for the car over the rest of the season; a lot of modifications we think will help us tremendously. To come out of here with the points and a 12-hour test session under our belt is a pretty good thing for this whole team. I am looking forward to getting some testing done and getting the car to Sears Point."
Shane Lewis has been racing since 1989. He is the 1998 Professional Sports Car Rising Star award winner and has multiple race wins in the IMSA Supercar and SCCA Pro series. Lewis has ALMS podium finishes at Silverstone, Nurburgring and last season at Portland. This former Daytona Endurance Champion has driven in 16 24-hour races including two 24 Hours of Le Mans and six 24 Hours of Daytona. Today marked his sixth 12 Hours of Sebring.
Shane Lewis will next run the #45 American Viperacing Dodge Viper GTS-R in the Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway on May 19.