Virginia International Raceway
AIM Autosport Overcomes Several Hurdles at Wet VIR
Ninth Place Little Reward for Never-give-up Effort
Alton, Va. (May 15, 2011) — AIM Autosport’s BMW-Riley sponsored by GAMMA88 finished ninth in the Daytona Prototype class of the Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway yesterday afternoon. The team overcame a series of problems during the the race and appeared to be headed to a good result, but with less than 40 minutes remaining, the car slid of the track, impacted a tire wall and lost several laps stuck in the wet grass.
The race, which started in difficult, rainy conditions, was troublesome for all teams, but AIM endured more than its fair share. Before the race even began, starting driver Mark Wilkins had great difficulty seeing as the windshield fogged badly. The crew quickly prepared a replacement windshield and fashioned a squeegee that Mark could use if the problem persisted.
Luckily the race was yellow flagged almost immediately after the start and remained under caution for over 45 minutes until the rain diminished and track workers had cleared standing water. Sacrificing his fifth-place starting spot, Mark made a series of pitstops, allowing the team to work briefly before hustling around the circuit in order not to fall a lap behind the field. Over the course of five yellow-flag laps, the crew replaced the windshield, custom made a squeegee and made modifications to improve ventilation. And they kept the car on the lead lap.
When racing resumed, Mark was at the back of the field, but worked his way to sixth before the midpoint of the race when he pitted for fuel, tires and to let his co-driver, Burt Frisselle, take the wheel. More great work by the AIM Autosport crew had Burt back in the race in fifth, but he was forced to make an unplanned stop about 20 minutes later when the car he was chasing put a wheel off the track and threw thick mud all over the windshield. After a quick stop, Burt resumed racing in tenth place.
With less than 40 minutes remaining, Burt was running seventh. The team’s strategy had the car fueled to the finish and on relatively fresh tires, looking set for a top-five finish. Pushing hard, Burt ran wide at a corner, slid off the track and hit a tire wall. The car was drivable, but needed to get back to the pits for repairs. Sadly, the wet grass was so slippery Burt couldn’t climb the gentle slope to the track and lost several laps while waiting to be towed. The difficult conditions claimed other victims, however, and despite being four laps behind the leaders, Burt crossed the line ninth in class.
“We’re really happy we had GAMMA88 on board for another top-ten finish,” said Burt after the race. “It could have been better, but the crew did an awesome job, actually changing the windshield without losing a lap. I feel really bad that I made a mistake, got on the wet stuff and went off. I want to thank GAMMA88 and everyone on the team. We’ll be working just as hard when we get to the next race.”
It was a tough day at the office.
“It was a tough day at the office. A tough day for the GAMMA88 machine,” said Mark. “It was a very tough race with varying conditions from start to finish. We resolved a major visibility issue at the beginning and then had a strong car in the wet.
“Burt pushed really hard as the track started to dry and did a good job, but went a little wide at a corner and it doesn’t take much in those conditions. I could easily have done the same. We learned a lot and the crew did a good job as always. We’ll come back stronger next time.”
“It’s very unfortunate to finish the way we did after working so hard to solve the window fogging issue,” said Chief Engineer, Ian Willis. “We looked to be in pretty good shape—fueled to the end and with fresh tires—but when you’re on the edge, things can happen. We know we can run at the front in this series and that’s where we’ll be at the next one.”
Next on the schedule for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is the Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park, May 29–30.
-source: aim autosport