Homestead: Stevenson Motorsports race report

Stevenson Motorsports Claims First Race Podium Finish For 2010 Chevrolet Camaro in Rolex GT Stevenson Continental GS Team Ends Race In The Garage With Mechanical Failures, But New Parts Are On The Way The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports / ...

Stevenson Motorsports Claims First Race Podium Finish For 2010 Chevrolet Camaro in Rolex GT
Stevenson Continental GS Team Ends Race In The Garage With Mechanical Failures, But New Parts Are On The Way

The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports / VinSolutions / BryanMark Financial Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, came home in second place in the second race of the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16, held at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Miami, Florida. Moving up from fourth to third as the race was nearing the end Liddell then passed the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda with less than seven minutes left to move up into the second spot. This marked the first podium finish for the team in 2010 and the first for the new Chevrolet Camaro in a professional racing series.

Team Manager Mike Johnson: "We feel great about being the first team to give the new Camaro a podium finish. The No. 57 car ran great all weekend but we knew we'd have issues with tire wear in the race. Andrew got off to great start but it soon became apparent we would have to stay on top of the tires."

Davis: "The car felt pretty good for qualifying, and I was able to run a lap that was more than a second faster than last year's time. Unfortunately, we had nothing for the top speed of the Mazda contingent, and I found myself surrounded by them on the starting grid. During my race, I was able to apply big pressure through the challenging infield section only to watch the lightweight Mazdas simply drive away on the straights. About half way through my stint, I realized that tire management was going to be of utmost importance. So, my focus changed to conserving the rear tires to ensure that I brought the car back to the pits in good form."

Liddell: "Tire wear was a big problem for us. We ran a conservative setup and although we didn't run the tires off the car the wear was very high and I am certainly worried about that going to Barber. When you are generating that amount of load on the tire for that long you are bound to wear the tires pretty quickly."

Johnson: "As Andrew said, once the tires go off we lose our infield advantage to the Mazda's, BMW and the Vette. With good rubber we can somewhat offset the high speeds they can reach on the straights. That was pretty much what happened for the entire race.

"We were content to know we would probably finish around fourth or fifth but at our second green flag pit stop the guys did a flawless job while our competitors struggled. That was just enough to give us a run for the podium. We came out in third place and decided to just stay in position because we knew if there was going to be a yellow that we'd be sitting ducks for the cars behind us.

"When we got the full course yellow with about 15 minutes left in the race, Robin found he had just enough tire left to catch and pass the No. 70 Mazda and move into the second spot. I chalk up our success this weekend to Robin's conserving the tires at the end, and to the two flawless pit stops we had."

Liddell: "We were really at a disadvantage to the quickest Mazdas and the BMW. On new tires I could just about stay with the 69 winning Mazda and the BMW, but after a few laps they were gone. Overall though the car performed very well throughout the weekend; we had no problems to speak of so congratulations to the guys again for preparing an excellent car for us to drive. Again, thanks to Johnny and Susan for putting together a fine team. It was a difficult day for them so being able to get 2nd in GT hopefully helped to make amends!"

Davis: "I am very pleased that we were able to get Stevenson Motorsports back onto the podium, and collect some very valuable points for the 2010 season. This season is shaping up to be the most competitive yet, so we realize that we will need to continue to improve the car to reach our goal of winning the championship."

However, there was not much to celebrate about with the second team entry. The No. 97 Stevenson Motorsports / Lala Motorsports / BryanMark Financial / VinSolutions 2010 Chevrolet Camaro GT.R with Gunter Schaldach and Jan Magnussen aboard started the weekend on a sour note and never had the chance to compete at full strength. A broken suspension kept them off the pace with only a 15th place finish to show for a weekend spent looking for answers.

Johnson: "For some reason, the No. 97 car rolled off the truck with a problem and we just couldn't isolate it. We ripped the car apart but could not find the problem. In the race, a bearing in the upper control arm failed and we finally learned why the car just wasn't right. When the car was on track the part was flexing and bending but it took the weight of the car to induce the flexing. It wasn't anything we could find just using hand pressure. We just couldn't get the car to go fast or handle properly up to the time it broke."

Schaldach: "I was looking forward to my first experience with my new co-driver, Jan Magnussen, but we really didn't get off to a great start. Our car had some bugs that we couldn't shake off. We did not have enough time to diagnose the root cause of the problem and of course, it only showed up after Jan got in the car and the bearing got hot under load. This was a hard problem to diagnose until it ultimately failed during the race."

Johnson: "We are disappointed because we know the No. 97 car is just as capable of winning as is the No. 57 car. We have work to do as we are still experiencing some growing pains with bringing on a second car and that dynamic. But the part that failed was a new part. In hindsight having a good race might have hidden a problem like this so having a bad run probably showed us the kinds of things we need to address going forward."

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GRAND-Am Continental Tires Sportscar Challenge Series

After Two Top 10 Finishes At Daytona, The GS Team Ends Homestead Before Halfway

The No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco / Camaro GS.R driven by Matt Bell and Jeff Bucknum and the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Sunoco / Camaro GS.R driven by Hugh Plumb and Al Carter finished 32nd and 35th respectively in the Homestead 200. Since taking delivery of the new Riley built 2010 Camaro GS.R there have been continual issues with the clutch and slave cylinder which took the team out of the race at VIR last October. Grand-Am rules do not allow teams to modify the stock systems in the Continental Challenge, so the team is a bit helpless until a solution is found.

Johnson: "All of the Camaros in this race finished either in the garage or at the end of the pack. Our No. 9 car lost a pulley on the oil pump. The No. 6 car had a slave cylinder fail which is the same problem we had when we first ran the car at VIR. I think GRAND-AM has finally realized they were way off the mark with the new Camaro. The weight we carry keeps the car 2-3 seconds off the pace, but until we are allowed some new driveline pieces, it won't matter anyway. We have put 8 new slave cylinders in this year and Grand-Am has finally agreed to give us new parts by Barber. The problem now is getting them and developing them in time. Bill Riley and GM Racing are hard at work so I do have some confidence, but taking a blow this early in the season is not fun."

With an eye towards finding a workable solution to the slave cylinder issue, the Stevenson team will simply continue to move forward with the twin Sunoco Camaro GS.Rs. They will work that much harder to find the same success for the Chevrolet marque in the Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge Series as they have begun to enjoy in the Rolex Series.

The next race on the 2010 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 schedule will be held on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

-source: stevenson motorsports

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jan Magnussen , Robin Liddell , Jeff Bucknum , Andrew Davis , Hugh Plumb , Mike Johnson , Al Carter
Teams Stevenson Motorsports , SpeedSource