Stevenson Pontiac GXP-R Takes First-Ever Win In Mexico The ...
Stevenson Pontiac GXP-R Takes First-Ever Win In Mexico
The #57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP-R made history this weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City, Mexico. Running in just its third race ever, in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, the Stevenson Pontiac led the GT field throughout most of the race and when it counted the most: on the final lap. Drivers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell capitalized on all the hard work the team has applied to the goal of winning a race and it all came together this weekend in front of thousands of enthusiastic Mexican fans.
Early indications of the winning potential of the #57 Pontiac GXP-R were provided by a strong run at the season opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, followed by a second place qualifying position at Miami-Homestead. The team was knocked out at Daytona by an errant prototype, and an unexpected defect in a bearing in the steering rack took them out of a podium placing at Miami-Homestead. But those earlier difficulties did nothing to dissuade Andrew Davis of the potential of this car and this team to lead the GT field across the finish line.
"I am absolutely thrilled to share my first Rolex Series victory with the Stevenson Motorsports team. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time. Our BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R was strong during qualifying, allowing us to start on the second row. During the race, the car was very good over the long stints making it difficult for anyone to challenge us for the lead."
Davis and Liddell ran at the front of the GT pack for most of the race in what must be considered a remarkable display of what a consistent and committed team effort can yield. They were able to hold off the determined advances of an extremely competitive field right through to the final lap. And it was Liddell behind the wheel when the red, white and blue Pontiac took the checkered flag, a mere 2.477 seconds ahead of the hard charging -- but second placed - Paul Edwards in the #07 Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP-R. Closing out the top three in GT was Dirk Werner in the #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche.
Liddell: "I'm delighted with this success! It's been a long time coming for me since August 2006, while it's the first GT class win for the Stevenson Motorsports team in only the third race for its Pontiac GXP-R.
"My car was superb from the moment I got in it while the team, both in terms of servicing us at our pit-stops and the race strategy, when I opted not to take a splash of fuel which meant I had to conserve fuel quite a lot, was absolutely magnificent."
Davis too concurs that the team truly worked in unison to make this first victory happen.
"Every team member played an integral role in making this happen", said Davis. "(Team Manager) Mike Johnson and (Pratt & Miller Engineer) Kyle Millay put forth a superb race strategy that enabled us to control the second half of the race. The crew really were the stars with two amazing pit stops that helped us to gain positions during the caution periods, and Robin fought very hard to keep the #57 out front all the way to the checkered flag.
"This was a long overdue victory for Stevenson Motorsports, and I really want to thank John and Susan Stevenson for this opportunity."
As you would expect, Team Manager Mike Johnson thoroughly enjoyed this first win for the team. He also enjoyed racking up the frequent flyer miles this week as well. Shortly after he arrived in Mexico mid-week, he received a call from his wife Cheryl that she was going into labor. Johnson immediately turned around and flew back home to St. Louis, Missouri to meet Olivia, his second child but his first daughter. A day and a half later he was back on a plane to Mexico to head up the team's tremendous run to the flag.
Johnson gave us this rundown of his long weekend of many firsts.
"For me it was a really long weekend! As soon as I arrived I ate dinner and then got right back on a plane to get home for my daughter's birth. I missed the birth but I did get to stay the day and the night with my wife and our new daughter Olivia. She is our second child but our first daughter. I then flew back out on Friday afternoon. I got to the track in time for the warm up and final set up.
"For us, the key to the race was our pit stops. We just could not pass the Porsche's and the Mazda's on the straights. We were in fifth when the first yellow came at the 30 minute mark. We didn't want to take Andrew out that early but the option presented itself. We came down the pit lane in fifth but we left in second place. The pit stop was unbelievable! The guys were fantastic! That gave us the opportunity to go for it.
"We pitted again on the second yellow, taking fuel and tires. Again we did such a great job with the stop that we were able to hold onto our second place spot. Both Banner cars didn't pit which I found very surprising. When the #06 car came in later, we inherited first place and Robin never gave it up the rest of the way.
"We have had so much bad luck this year that it felt wonderful to finally have luck be on our side. We had the #16 Cheever prototype spin out right in front of Robin yet he managed to avoid contact. We couldn't believe it! We finally had the luck in our favor.
"We are all just so happy for John and Susan Stevenson because they have put so much of themselves into this program. They are two very deserving people and without them none of this would have been possible. And this win gives the team real credibility in the paddock. We have had moments of brilliance but we've faltered come race time. I think we are now establishing ourselves as a quality team and one of the highlights for me after the race was the comments from the Pratt & Miller engineers. (Pratt & Miller built the #57 Pontiac GXP-R) They told me this was the first time a privateer Pontiac team has ever won. Before, it was either TRG or Banner that won a Grand Am race with the Pontiac. That was a cool testament to how hard this team has worked this season."
The weekend saw several other firsts for this Jacksonville, North Carolina based team. Johnson ran down the list for us, and then filled us in on his top two priorities for the next few days.
"We had the team's first win in Grand-Am, the first win for the Pontiac by a privateer team -- and for us -- the first time we led a lap in competition, the first win for Andrew Davis, and Olivia is my first girl! And now that I am finally home I can get a real good look at my daughter, right after I get some sleep!"
Team owner Johnny Stevenson expressed his sincere gratitude for the unified efforts of all the people that made this dynamic moment in the history of his racing career possible when he said: "I want to congratulate the whole team's effort. The team manager, Mike Johnson, our drivers, Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell , our crew chief, Michael Hoffman, and the stellar performance of the entire crew proved just how committed this team is to being a championship winning team. I would also like to thank our sponsor, the Bryan Mark Financial Group. This victory has been a long time coming as so many times we were so close. We look forward to many more podiums in the future."
The win moved the Stevenson Team up into 8th place overall in the team standings. And now that the first win has come for the Jacksonville, North Carolina based team, one can only surmise the team's ascent up the standings ladder has just begun.