Risky Second Pit Stop Fuels A Win For Stevenson In Montreal In the Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, at least one GT Team Manager made...
Risky Second Pit Stop Fuels A Win For Stevenson In Montreal
In the Montreal 200 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, at least one GT Team Manager made sure his car had enough gas to go the distance. A risky stop for additional fuel during the second caution period led to a late win as the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R, driven by Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell, passed the leading Porsche on the main straight just a few hundred yards from the finish line as the German marque coasted to a stop out of gas.
Liddell was aboard the Pontiac as it zoomed over the line first in class, after passing a number of cars that had gambled and lost on the game of fuel mileage.
"I feel great now." Liddell commented at the post race press conference. "I felt pretty crummy about 10 laps from the end because we started to wonder if we'd done the right thing. I've seen in races like this, when the time is a little different, a few oddities appear. When I drove through during the end lap, the number of cars that ran out of fuel was pretty amazing. People take gambles that perhaps they wouldn't normally take. You try to come up with different strategies to win. For some people that plays out and for others it doesn't. But at the same time, it gives you an opportunity to do a good job.
"I must say the team did an excellent job today." Liddell continued, "Mike (Johnson) did a great job with the strategy. The guys did a super job in the pit stops. Had it run yellow for long periods, we would have not had that position at the end. To win is outstanding. We're over the moon. Hopefully we'll keep fighting for the championship in the last couple of races."
Team Manager Mike Johnson relayed his concern that, perhaps the late stop for fuel was a mistake. "I knew we would be short of fuel if the race went green, but when the No. 57 and No. 70 (SpeedSource Mazda) were the only cars to come down pit lane, I was worried. With 5 laps to go, I began apologizing to the team that I cost us a good finish, but as the first car came into the pits with three laps to go, I knew we had a chance. We got beat by late yellows at Barber after leading most of the race, and this weekend we won because there wasn't a late yellow and after having only led for about a half mile. It just goes to show that it's never over until it's over."
Andrew Davis had taken the Pontiac from third on the grid into the opening laps with a pair of pesky Porsches in front. He was able to stay in the front pack of cars throughout his stint before turning the GXP.R over to Liddell.
"I couldn't be more proud of the Stevenson Motorsports team for this thrilling victory." Davis commented, "We worked very hard trying to maximize our progress with the plentiful practice time that we had on Thursday afternoon. The car was working nicely at the end of practice, enabling us to put the No. 57 Pontiac GXP.R up near the front on the time sheets. Despite the progress made, the crew stayed up very late on Thursday night making changes to improve the car further. Heading into qualifying, I was confident that we had a car that was capable of starting up front. We were able to place the car on the inside of the second row for the start of the race, and so began one of the most exciting races that I have been a part of in quite some time."
When the Stevenson car pitted, the pit lane wasn't as busy as you might expect during a caution period. By coming in when they did to add fuel the team positioned themselves to literally run away from the race leaders in the end.
"Mike Johnson made the call during the race to bring us in during a mid race caution period for fuel. It seemed like the right call, but we were surprised to see that most of the front runners opted not to pit. I was quite worried with about five minutes remaining because it looked like those in front were not running out of fuel. However, the last two laps were simply amazing finding us on the top step of the podium!"
"This was a big win for Stevenson Motorsports." Davis continued, "The celebration in the pits was out of control, we were jumping up and down like mad men on the pit lane. We were in complete disbelief of how the race came to us on the final straight."
As a result of the team's success in Canada, Davis has developed a taste for competition outside the United States. "We seem to do really well when the Rolex Series races outside the United States, so hopefully they will add some more international races to the schedule in the future."
The Montreal 200 was the 11th race of the Rolex Series 2008 season for the GT class. It marked the ninth time the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports -- BryanMark Financial Pontiac GXP.R has finished in the top ten. In seven of those races, Davis and Liddell have stood on the podium, with three wins.
With this, the third win of the season, Stevenson teammates Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis strengthened their third place standings in the GT Driver's Championship by reducing the gap to second to just six points. And they are now just 16 points out of first. The Stevenson Team also remains in third place in the GT Team Championship standings.
Liddell let the rest of the GT field know the Stevenson Team is out to get the top spot in the championships when he said, "This victory now really opens up the championship -- bring on the fight!"
The Grand-Am GT class next moves to the brand new Thunderbolt Raceway located in the New Jersey Motorsports Park complex in Millville, New Jersey. The race date is Sunday, August 31st.
The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 includes cars competing in two classes, Daytona Prototypes and GT. The #57 Stevenson Motorsports Pontiac GXP.R competes in the GT class against teams running cars from Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda as well as the Ford Mustang Cobra.