New Stevenson Sunoco Camaro Runs As High As Third In First Race KONI Challenge entry, driven by Donohue and Bucknum, withdrawn early with clutch failure They received the car just one week before the Bosch Octoberfest KONI Challenge race at...
New Stevenson Sunoco Camaro Runs As High As Third In First Race
KONI Challenge entry, driven by Donohue and Bucknum, withdrawn early with clutch failure
They received the car just one week before the Bosch Octoberfest KONI Challenge race at VIR. With only a single, short test session behind them, the Stevenson Motorsports 2010 Sunoco Camaro, driven by David Donohue and Jeff Bucknum, made a favorable first impression when put to the test against the rest of the KONI field.
Stevenson Team Manager Mike Johnson was very pleased with the first test of the new car one week earlier and he noted several updates were installed in the days leading up to her maiden run. But racing is a tough game to master without first going a distance in anger against competition. In this case, the first time out showed the new Riley Technologies chassis had real promise while also reminding everyone that cars are, after all, machines that can and do suffer breakdowns.
Johnson: "After the second pit stop, Jeff radioed in that the clutch had gone to the floor. He drove around for a few laps without it, but we decided it would be best for the car to bring it in and take a look at it to not further damage the driveline. We realized the fluid was gone and it wasn't anything simple, so we decided to load it up and fix it when we got home. The car is now back at Greg Jones's shop in Greensboro and his crew will make the necessary changes and updates before our next test on October 15."
David Donohue started the race and, as Johnson explains, he had the new blue racer up into third place.
"I still can't believe the race went as well as it did. I never imagined us running as high as third and at one point we were catching the leaders. David did such an amazing job during the opening stints that he never made a mistake and cars all around him just kept driving off."
Donohue really enjoyed his time behind the wheel of the new car.
"It was a lot of fun! I was really surprised to get up to third place. Going in I didn't know what to expect as this was my first time in the car and with Jeff and the Stevenson team. The car was really well turned out and looking beautiful. We had a few small problems but I chalk that up to not really having a chance to thoroughly shake down the car. I think it was a very successful turnout for all of us. I feel bad for Jeff though. He put the whole thing together and I felt like a car hog."
Because of the mechanical issues, Jeff Bucknum did not get nearly as much seat time as he would have liked in the new car. Despite this, he came away from the weekend with a sense of real promise for what is to come.
"The car was really good out there. David did an outstanding job for two hours. We definitely showed the pace of the Riley Camaro. For a first effort, everything was fantastic. You have to expect issues with a new car so it wasn't too unusual for us to experience a problem our first time out. What was really encouraging is how we kept getting faster in practice and by the time we started the race we were at our fastest pace yet.
"Working with David and the Stevenson team was a wonderful experience for me personally. The crew did a super job and they were professional throughout the weekend, even with the little things we had to do and the late nights they worked to make things right. They stayed upbeat the whole time. My hat is off to them and to Johnny Stevenson and Mike Johnson for putting it all together."
Donohue too was very pleased with his first experience working with the Stevenson team.
"I would love the opportunity to run the full 2010 KONI season with Jeff, Mike and John Stevenson. It would be an incredible experience to be in this car with this team for a full season. The guys on this team worked through all the issues without ever showing any signs of concern even though we did have a few issues that we weren't sure we would resolve. But the guys did an outstanding job and I really appreciate John stepping up to make Jeff's dream come true. Hopefully we can put it all together for next season."
Johnson noted that the pressures of chasing a championship in the Rolex GT series could have been a deterrent to a good showing but in the end, the KONI experience proved to be quite an enjoyable time.
"I was really happy with how well our team performed and to have a race debut go so well was a relief. After the shakedown, we had a lot of work to do and some of the issues were still not solved by the green flag but the crew never got disenchanted and worked many late nights for us to perform as well as we did. Considering we are still fighting for a GT Championship this weekend, we were worried this could be a big distraction, but I think it took the pressure off a bit as we really had some fun."
Looking ahead to next season, the Stevenson Team is going to be testing drivers on Oct 15.