04/24/00 - The Hybrid R&D Racing Team made the most of their one-day at the track, literally. While only arriving the morning of the race on Saturday, the team was allowed eight laps (4 each for Mark Simo and Chris Bingham). Along with a couple...
04/24/00 - The Hybrid R&D Racing Team made the most of their one-day at the track, literally. While only arriving the morning of the race on Saturday, the team was allowed eight laps (4 each for Mark Simo and Chris Bingham). Along with a couple of other teams cars that had difficulty on Friday and one with a last minute driver replacement, we where under orders to record a time within the minimum to start the race. Hybrid, expecting to start at the back of the grid for Saturday nights race actually found themselves with lap times from both its drivers that would have put the car fifth on the grid of the twenty three car field. This was not a qualifying session however, only an eligibility session to allow the team to compete. Bingham and Simo where quick despite missing the three days of prior testing and going out on a dirty track with left over Yokohama tires from Daytona.
This was the Hybrid Teams only attempt to tune for an optimum chassis setup and gearing selection for the race. After a short debrief with both Chris Bingham and Mark Simo, another pleasant surprise was presented. The Prototype Sports Car was very good and only required a minor change to the balance for high speed cornering. "We seem to get things right when we come here" said Rod Everett, Team Owner. Hybrid came to PIR in the early nineties, each time winning races and even a Championship with drivers Richie Hearn, Bill Fickling and Craig T Nelson.
Unlike Daytona, this race was not one of attrition but rather a fast pace start to finish with all the top contenders there at the end. "Our race strategy was not as casual as our showing up here on Saturday without practice or qualifying. We knew our advantages; drivers Chris Bingham and Mark Simo, Yokohama Tires and a race track we know a little bit about". Mark Simo, while somewhat and understandably a bit conservative at the start while driving under the lights for the first time here, found his limits and proceeded directly to the front. By the first of two cautions, Simo had the Yokohama shod Hybrid R&D Sports Car in fourth position. Flawlessly and consistently quick for fifty-nine race laps, Simo brought the Hybrid Sports Car in for the first of two scheduled stops and handing it over to an anxious Bingham. This is where the only mistake was made. The air jack failed to lift the car during the tire change and fuel stop. "The very last thing we expected was an equipment failure", said Rod Everett. "A driver mistake while at night here or possibly a system error with the race car without an appropriate shake down is always a concern. This really caught us out". The Hybrid Team recovered quickly however, and sent Bingham off to blaze a trail and that he did. Chris (Bingham) picked up right where Mark (Simo) left off. The second yellow came just as the team needed to pit for fuel. An eight-second stop for only six gallons of fuel was all that was needed to continue for a charge to the end. "I had so much confidence in the Team and our drivers that with the brilliant job they where all doing, I began feeling guilty for doing it all in one day", said Everett. The Hybrid Team finished fifth in the end which normally would be disappointing considering a podium finish was theirs to give away however, they ran hard, made one mistake, the competition was there and they had fun during it all, said a team spokesperson.
The Hybrid Team would like everyone to know that the Grand American Road Racing Association went over backwards for them and others to enjoy Sports Car Racing again and make provisions for everyone to have a chance. Their efforts are very much appreciated.
Despite the Hybrid Teams sponsorship short coming, they are planning to continue with confidence that new associations will present themselves from a lot of contacts being made in the near future to take advantage of the promotional value of Professional Prototype Sports Car Racing.
Next Race: Miami, Florida at Homestead Motorsports Complex May 5-7.
Hybrid R&D Racing is an Orange, California based Team that competes in the Prototype Sports Car category of the Grand American Road Racing Championship. The Teams Riley & Scott / Ford powered racing car competes on Yokohama tires and is driven by Chris Bingham of Bellevue, WA. And Mark Simo of Carlsbad, Ca. Team Owner Rod Everett, is a native Californian.