WE'RE BACK! RUM BUM RACING SCORES THRILLING VIR PODIUM ALTON, Virginia, 24 April - After a race that had the fans at Virginia International Raceway on their feet, the Rum Bum Racing squad was elated to finish in third place in the Grand-Am ...
WE'RE BACK! RUM BUM RACING SCORES THRILLING VIR PODIUM
ALTON, Virginia, 24 April - After a race that had the fans at Virginia International Raceway on their feet, the Rum Bum Racing squad was elated to finish in third place in the Grand-Am Continental Sports Car Challenge Bosch Engineering 200. When the No. 13 BMW M3 with Matt Plumb behind the wheel crossed the finish line, crew chief Joe Varde exclaimed, "We're back!"
And with good reason. Following their season opening win, the Rum Bum squad suffered disappointment in the second round at Homestead when a certain win was snatched from their grasp. At the subsequent race at Barber Motorsports Park, they just couldn't find their groove. But, at VIR, it all came right again.
Co-driver Gianluis Bacardi took the opening stint, driving superbly to climb through the field while it was still closely bunched. It was an exercise fraught with danger and risk at nearly every turn, yet the 20 year old rookie kept his composure. He gained an average of one place every two laps, before pitting from 16th place to hand over to Plumb on lap 16.
"That was great, a little stressful, but great," said Bacardi following his stint. "I couldn't believe we all made through the first couple turns without incident. Everyone drove really well and from there I just focussed on fast, but steady laps. Winning at Daytona was unreal, and of course the next two races weren't nearly as fun, so this feels fantastic to be back up on the podium."
Plumb rejoined in 26th position having taken four new Continental Tires and fuel. Immediately he set the race's fastest lap at 2:03.759 seconds, which would remain the standard for the duration. A lap later, the field was gathered under caution. No sooner were they released on lap 24 when the yellow flags came out once more. Championship-winning crew chief Varde made the call to come in and top up for fuel.
Now brimmed, Plumb set off on the limit, breaking into the top-10 by lap 30. Seven laps later, entering turn-1, he had a brief scare sliding off on some oil while catching up with slower traffic. Plumb recovered quickly and made all possible use of his BMW steed to hunt down the leaders.
Sixteen laps later, Plumb was now in second place, less than a second behind the leading No. 6 Camaro GS.R. At one point the gap was down to just 0.392 seconds, only to get the call from the pits that fuel would be marginal and he would have to back off.
"I was driving all out, nearly every lap. Without any cautions, I knew we would be very close on fuel. We needed one more caution, to slow the pace down a for bit, but it never came. So, I leaned the fuel mixture and backed off as much as I could to still maintain the gap," said Plumb.
When the leading Camaro pitted, Plumb took a short-lived lead before he too pitted a lap later. The splash and go was performed in less than 12 seconds on lap 61 to keep the Rum Bum entry on the podium. Plumb returned in 3rd place, sufficiently fueled to once more go at full tilt.
"I couldn't believe how fast our last splash and go was. I figured we'd come back out in fifth or sixth place. Once I stopped in our pit box, I saw Joey (Hand) go by and then the Camaro just as the fueling was done and they sent me out. I couldn't believe we salvaged the podium and I went as hard as I could again," added Plumb.
However, while Plumb looked to make it a third win at the Virginia track, time soon ran out. He crossed the line 4.349 seconds after the eventual winner Joey Hand, also in a BMW M3 and just behind the No.6 Camaro of Jeff Bucknum.
"Gian and Matt drove a phenomenal race. They had the pace, and didn't put a wheel wrong. A big hats off goes to the entire crew. Their last pitstop was sensational and it was one of the keys to the race," said Varde.
Rum Bum racers Bacardi and Plumb have now made up some ground in the chase for the season title with 81 points, good for 12th place overall and 30 points off of the top spot.
The battle next moves to scenic Lime Rock Park in Connecticut on May 28-29.
-source: rum bum racing