Stevenson Pontiac Sloshes Its Way To A Second, Second Place Finish Any good driving instructor will tell you to move with caution for any period spent driving in the rain. But at the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal...
Stevenson Pontiac Sloshes Its Way To A Second, Second Place Finish
Any good driving instructor will tell you to move with caution for any period spent driving in the rain. But at the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio, the rains meant all drivers were subjected to eight cautions as in yellow flag caution periods. When the rains came right after the start of the race, cars were spinning and sliding in every direction and the un-choreographed automotive dance festival continued throughout the event. For some it would mean sustaining damages that would end their day prematurely. For others, the wet track surface gave drivers an opportunity to unwillingly showcase their best ice skating style figure eights and pirouettes.
It was definitely a wet day in Ohio but the #57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R, driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, managed to slosh through the walls of splashing spray and finish second in class for the second race in a row.
Liddell did have one 'bit-of-ballet' moment coming onto the front straight during a restart but he was able to swing his chassis full circle without making contact with another 'skater' and was soon back on track and back in the hunt. Unfortunately, as the track dried late in the race his rain tires simply forfeited more and more grip with every coming corner. In the end, a dynamic duel between Liddell and Porsche driver Leh Keen in the closing laps ended with Liddell's front tires simply going away too soon.
Liddell: "The conditions were extremely difficult and were constantly changing due to intermittent bursts of rain. On a fully wet track, the car was quite drivable but with just 20 minutes to go, the track started to dry very quickly in the humid conditions. I was still on 'wet' tires and although the track conditions called for slick, 'dry' weather tires, it was a case of staying out, not pitting for a tire change and thus lose time, and just try to hold onto the lead until the end.
"Unfortunately the front 'wet' tires were completely destroyed and I was just trying to stay on the track at every corner. In such a tricky race, which saw many of our rivals make big mistakes and score poorly, we are pretty happy with second place which moves us up in the standings and importantly closes the gap on the series leaders."
The Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio was the eighth race of the Rolex Series 2008 season for the GT class. It marked the sixth time the #57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R has finished in the top ten, and the fifth time Davis and Liddell have stood on the podium.
Andrew Davis: "The whole race was hairy except for the first few laps. We could see the rain clouds coming and since we started on the front row we had a good run going until the storm front came in. I knew it would just be a matter of time before we got caught out on slicks. The storm just came barreling through and soaked the track. The first lap that we came into turn seven in the rain half the GT cars seemed to fly off the track. Everyone slowed their pace and we went into a caution period.
"Basically the whole race was wet until the end. We tried to make as many in-car adjustments as we could to soften the car to try to get the handling down. When we came into the pits the guys executed perfectly and our strategy played out right. We had a car that we had struggled with in practice in the dry. It was nice to get the good qualifying position but the rain was actually welcome as it helped us a lot.
"The Pontiac GXP.R is great in the rain. We changed to some new rain tires with about an hour to go but as the track started drying out - regardless of how good the Pirelli rain tires are - you start wearing out the tread blocks. The front tires went on Robin and that had him dropping back in the end. Up until then I thought he was just going to check out on the Porsche but the tires just went away."
After the Mid-Ohio round, Stevenson teammates Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis have moved up into third place in the driver's championship with just a single race point keeping them out of second. The Stevenson Team also moved into third place in the overall Team Championship standings, also just one point out of second place.
Davis: "We are just one point out of second and 32 points off the leaders. Our goal is to continue to put pressure on the guys ahead of us and keep working to get the kind of results we have been getting. If it all comes down to the end of the season we expect we will be there."
The next race is the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 3rd.