AIM Autosport led a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race for the first time, using race strategy to head the 36-car field at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday. With 76 minutes of the 2.5-hour race run under caution, pit strategy was...
AIM Autosport led a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race for the first time, using race strategy to head the 36-car field at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Friday. With 76 minutes of the 2.5-hour race run under caution, pit strategy was critical in determining the finish. An ill-timed caution period thwarted the rookie Canadian team's podium charge, but they were happy with a strong seventh-place finish.
Mark Wilkins of Toronto qualified AIM's No. 61 Daytona Prototype fifth on the grid -- the fastest qualifying time for a Lexus-powered Riley Mk XI -- in one minute 36.494 seconds on the 4.361-km road course. He drove the first race stint and moved up to third before stopping for a driver change to meet the series requirement for a pitstop during the first 45 minutes of the race. Brian Frisselle of Lynchburg, Va., took over, returning to the track 14th. A caution started one minute later, giving the other teams an advantage in pitstop timing, but Frisselle was able to take the race lead for 18 minutes, through a long caution and restart. He eventually settled back to finish seventh.
Doncaster Racing had a good start to the only Canadian race in the series, but was slammed by a water-line problem. Greg Wilkins of Toronto started from ninth on the GT grid, based on his qualifying time of 1:45.537. He gained one position to eighth before pitting during the first caution. Dave Lacey of Toronto was delayed in starting his stint as a water coolant line detached from the engine block. The team lost two laps reattaching the line and Lacey returned to the track 16th in class. He held the position, then handed off to Wilkins for the final drive. Wilkins regained two positions to finish 14th.
Ian Willis, AIM co-owner: "Our strategy was to stay out on the first yellow and hope we got another yellow before 45 minutes. We did, but we got it one lap too late. But as it worked out, we got back in. Certainly, the yellows helped us on the fuel -- we were touch and go for awhile, but those last two yellows put us over the edge. I'm just over the moon with the way both drivers performed."
Brian Frisselle: "It was a long stint, but it wasn't too hard because there were lots of yellows. It was a great team result. Mark's been so quick this weekend; he really showed me around this place. He did a great job in qualifying and then the team called the best strategy of the race -- I don't think anyone else called the strategy we did -- and it was perfect. I've got to thank the team and Exchange Traded Gold and all our supporters. Today we had a great car and it showed in the result."
Mark Wilkins: "It's great for the team! Maybe it's something about having races outside the U.S. -- Mexico was seventh, Canada was seventh, and those are two of our best results this season. It was unfortunate there was so much caution, but it really paid off for us today. To stop so early for fuel and to be here seventh is awesome. Thanks to Telus' Mike Network for their Ultimate Road Trip adventure to Montreal and RBC for their contribution. We really appreciate their support and we're glad to give them a good result."
Dave Lacey: "It was a crazy weekend. We were chasing similar brake issues to the ones we had at Barber [Motorsports Park]. We got behind in setup and actually made some bold calls on suspension, but we never really got the confidence back in the brakes. We then had a coolant hose snap on us, which compounded the issues. We were running reasonable times at the end of the race, but you can't recover from a two-lap deficit."
Greg Wilkins: "The car was better than it's been in a long time. The crew did a great job and we were fast at the end. We were still running fast times, but the cooling problem knocked us down two laps. We're really pleased that our sponsors were here from Caterpillar and Toromont. We wish we could give them a better result, but I think we put on a competitive show, although we weren't necessarily running at the front."