Making the Most of Mid-Ohio Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2002: Just when it feels like you can do no wrong and that you can, in fact, "win them all" reality makes a stirring comeback. For the Villaconn Motorsport team, Mid-Ohio 2002 was just ...
Making the Most of Mid-Ohio
Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2002: Just when it feels like you can do no wrong and that you can, in fact, "win them all" reality makes a stirring comeback. For the Villaconn Motorsport team, Mid-Ohio 2002 was just such a weekend.
Team driver Beau Buisson came into the Ohio event leading the points in the Sport Touring I Class and was looking to maximize his lead - and his prospects looked good. Beau's codriver, Ken Dobson, was fresh off a 2nd place Speed World Challenge finish at Mosport Park. Dobson started the 2.5 hour race in the Primerica BMW with Buisson taking over the point. Amidst a strong run, Beau was to suffer an impact so hard that the engine and transmission were torn from their mounts. Buisson was fine but the BMW looked as though it had it's entire side beaten with a hammer. The resulting 16th place finish moved the Snellville, GA resident to 2nd in points with four races remaining.
Bransen Patch and Don Salama also had an "eventful" day but faired better than their teammates when the checkered flew. Patch would qualify the HMS Motorsport entry in 5th spot and quickly move up to third (while setting fastest lap of the race) during the first hour. He would be an unfortunate addition to a two car tangle between a GS1 and ST2 class runner. In the process the alignment would be compromised. Under green flag conditions Patch brought the Z3 Coupe in for codriver Don Salama. Salama was storming his way back to 3rd place when his front brake caliper overheated causing a total loss of all brake fluid. "Although I had ZERO braking ability I decided to finish and not stop," added Salama. "I ended up running laps within 5 seconds of fast lap with no brakes and lost only 3 places during the last 30 minutes. It was a rewarding finish and allowed Branson and I to earn solid points from a situation that could have been a disaster." The pair would come home in 7th.
Team owner Alfredo Villamil made his return behind the wheel by partnering Neal Heffron in the ELI.com BMW. Villamil took the green flag and had a fine run until the pair got caught out with bad timing during a full course yellow. Heffron took over when the #38 Coupe began running hot necessitating the need for short shifting to help keep the temperature down. "If the race were a three hour we would have had a chance to catch some of the class leaders," commented Heffron. "Their racers were going away as our car was running better in the cooler nighttime air. Our fastest laps were run at the end of the race." He would bring the ELI.com BMW Z3 Coupe to 8th at the finish.
The Grand Am Cup series now heads back to Virginia International Raceway on August 30th where the Villaconn Motorsports team hopes for better luck. Perhaps then the team can make the most of the remaining points available and reclaim the lead in the driver's championship.
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