RACE: King Rat 12 Hour at the Point recap

KRM posts disappointing 12 Hour results The King Rat Motorsports entry in the 5th Annual Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point sadly was not to be. Mechanical failure struck the ...

KRM posts disappointing 12 Hour results

The King Rat Motorsports entry in the 5th Annual Kumho Tires 12 Hours at the Point sadly was not to be. Mechanical failure struck the #98 Porsche 944 early in the race forcing them to retire. "We have been planning and organizing the team since January", said Kim. "I can not express how terribly disappointed we are to be out of it so early. We had assembled great crew and are sad that we didn't have a chance to put them to the test."

The team included drivers Alex Ratcliffe, Kim Ratcliffe, Brian Shipman and Tom Stewart and crew headed by crew chief Rich Hromin. This was Kim's first endeavor in this event. Alex, Brian and Tom have all competed in this contest in previous years. Alex is no stranger to disappointment in this race. He last competed in the 12 Hour race in 2001 with the RC Imports team in their #85 Mercedes 130E along with Rick Ellinger and Pat Skees. That team also saw a mechanical failure that forced an early etirement. "I feel like I have to come back and finish this race", said Alex. "We definitely have unfinished business at this event." That same year Brian Shipman fielded a team that yielded the ITS class win in the King Rat Motorsports #84 Mercedes 130E.

The weekend started out on a positive note in the Friday night qualifying session. Pro driver Tom Stewart, fresh off of his Speed World Challenge race at a rainy Lime Rock Park a few days earlier, began the session in great form. Brian Shipman took over midway and posted the fastest qualifying lap time for the team of 1:31.8 to put the King Rat entry 11th on the grid - 5th in class - in a field of 54 cars.

Cars rolled off the grid at 12 noon on Saturday. All was well after the first hour as Tom maintained a top 10 position and the crew began to gear up for their first pit stop and driver change. Tom was running 7th overall at the hour and one-half mark as he approached the pit lane. Kim was suited, ready to take over driving duties, and the crew standing by for refueling and a tire change. Tom knew he had a problem as he rolled into the pits and rapidly lost oil pressure. "I knew something was wrong right away when Tom didn't immediately begin getting out of the car", explained Kim.

The refueling crew stood by in anticipation as the driver is required to be out of the car before refueling can begin. It was quickly clear to Alex and crew chief Rich Hromin that the #2 rod bearing had failed - a common weakness in the 944. "We replaced all the bearings pre-race to try and prevent this problem", said Alex. "I'm not really surprised that it failed,but I am surprised at how early it happened."

Suddenly finding themselves spectators, the King Rat team commenced barbequing the mounds of food meant to feed the team of 10 people for 2 days. "In racing you have to take the good with the bad. We've come home with quite a few good results in the past and in the grand scheme of things this one is really not that bad", says Alex. "The car is still in one piece and we won't have to buy another tire until at least next year."

All was not lost, however. The King Rat sponsored #63 Mazda Miata driven by Bret dePedro, Ken Zalner, Brian Zalner and Don Barrack finished 2nd in the Spec Miata class and 6th place overall.

King Rat Motorsports would like to extend its sincere appreciation to our crew for their time and efforts: crew chief Rich Hromin (former crew chief for Trans-Am and Motorola Cup pro teams) and wife Alison, team representative Alicia Politi, Terry Moyer, Bruce Shipman and Laura Weidner who celebrated her birthday with us at the track on Saturday. Also, congratulations is in order for Alex's former RC Imports teammates Rick Ellinger, Cindi Ellinger and Pat Skees who drove the #85 Mercedes 130E to a 2nd place class finish and 4th overall.


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Series SCCA
Drivers Tom Stewart , Rick Ellinger , Alex Ratcliffe