It was the second time for a first visit to Watkins Glen for the CB Motorsports / DLGL Software Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype this past weekend. At the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen event in June, the team ran...
It was the second time for a first visit to Watkins Glen for the CB Motorsports / DLGL Software Pontiac-Riley Daytona Prototype this past weekend. At the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen event in June, the team ran a Lexus powerplant in their Riley chassis. For the CompUSA 200 at the Glen last Friday night, the team returned to this upstate New York racing Mecca with a brand new Pontiac engine installed and ready to go. It was the team's second race at the Glen, and the first with the Pontiac motor. And the results -- while not a podium placing -- were still cause for some good degree of optimism from the team principals.
Team General Manager John Petherbridge: "Overall, it was a very positive weekend for the team. It marked the return of our car to the series, after taking a break to install the new Pontiac motor. This was the first race we entered after installing and testing the new Pontiac power plant.
"All the drivers were very pleased with the car's performance. We were slightly off the mark in qualifying as we were still working on set up and didn't have the benefit of racing the same chassis and engine combination at the last Glen race. But we did make real progress over the few days we were at the Glen and we really improved our lap times in the evening practice session. And Hugo (Guenette) had the car within 1 second of the race leaders all evening."
Petherbridge knows there is still work to be done. At the Glen, the CB Motorsports / DLGL Software Pontiac-Riley showed it had the legs to run with the lead pack. It also may have shown a damaged muscle in those legs. Petherbridge explains:
"The Glen experience was very satisfactory as we ran within 1.4 seconds of the leaders in qualifying. We started in 15th position and during the race Hugo moved the car up into 10th place. There wasn't quite enough to make more moves though and then we experienced a serious problem. At around the 1 hour and 15 minute mark, Hugo came in and passed the car on to Chris. He rejoined the race under yellow and drove well for 20 minutes but then began to have a hard time driving the car in the second half, falling 2-4 seconds off the pace. The car was shuddering and we later learned the problem was with the differential. Chris fell back to 17th and then pulled back a couple of additional spots towards the end. After the weekend we found the differential had almost completely failed. Had we run any more laps we may well have had to retire so in some ways the timing was fortunate.
"But it was a solid race for us. We used a one pit stop strategy and that worked out well as it helped us move up to 10th. Both Hugo and Chris did a great job, keeping the car out of trouble and staying on the lead lap till the very end. Both drivers are confident that if we can close that one second gap - which we believe we will with a few changes to the car - then the #15 CB Motorsports / DLGL Software entry will start challenging for the top spots.
"This was a huge breakout weekend for us and although to the outside observer our result may have not been so impressive, the fact that we are now running with the pack, instead of being 3-4 seconds off as we had been for the first half of the season means we are moving in the right direction.
"And this was also our first race with our new crew chief, Sean Creech, who worked tirelessly to get the car up to speed since the installation of the new engine. Sean brought along several guys from Metro Racing, including Brett Plazak, Gordon Friend and Matt Lobrutto who all contributed to our strong weekend. The team is also very grateful to our full time mechanics, Christian Manseau, Aaron Edman and Nat Dorsay who worked many hours performing the engine switch from Lexus to Pontiac after the Daytona race. The car ran flawlessly during testing in Ohio and over the weekend at the Glen and this is due in large part to their efforts and contributions."
Jacques Guenette Sr. is the Administrator, President and CEO of DLGL Ltd and shares driving chores with his son Hugo, and team owner Chris Bingham. He was especially upbeat about the improvements the team made this weekend.
"I think that congratulations are in order for the performance at the Glen. Being inside a second of the pole in the night practice, during a good chunk of the race, and even being the fastest car during a couple of laps during the race, is no small accomplishment. It feels like this is all coming together. A new born pride showed its head in the course of that night practice; it was exciting to witness it. Good job!"
Petherbridge: "We are encouraged by what we saw at the Glen. We feel we should move up on the grid by Mid-Ohio. We are tentatively planning another test session at VIR in mid- September. And we have ordered a suspension upgrade now available from Riley, and expect that change will further our cause. We are just waiting for the parts to be manufactured and delivered.
"We are also looking forward to the Ohio race as we have the pleasure of hosting clients from Key Bank and McDonald Financial Group on Saturday for a hospitality event. CB Motorsports will be keen to demonstrate the #15 cars development in front of these guests, and the Rolex Grand-Am community, as we push into the second half of the 2005 season."