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Mar 16, 2014 - 06:28 AM
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8star Down But Not Out As 62nd 12 Hours Of Sebring Reaches Mid-Point
Posted by: newsla on Mar 16, 2014 - 06:20 AM
USCR News
8star Down But Not Out As 62nd 12 Hours Of Sebring Reaches Mid-Point


8Star Motorsports is on the back foot as the 62nd Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring reaches the six-hour mark, having been forced to carry out swift repairs to its LMPC contender following an unfortunate spin for Eric Lux.

 

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Michael Marsal was undoubtedly the star of the opening half of the legendary once-around-the-clock enduro, leading the LMPC class for a time during a sensationally consistent quadruple stint in the orange #25 challenger.

It was left up to Tom Kimber-Smith to start the race and the Briton remained within eight tenths of Bruno Junqueira in the LMPC class-leading RSR Motorsports machine during the opening laps.

A short and sharp stint for Kimber-Smith came to a conclusion after only 30 minutes and the first full-course caution of the race allowed 8Star to service the car and hand over the reins to Marsal without hindering its progress.

The caution, originally caused when the #8 Starworks Motorsport LMPC contender span and became beached on an apex curb, was extended as the #33 Dodge SRT Viper GT3-R of Ben Keating spontaneously combusted at Turn 6.

Marsal was eventually able to put the hammer down when racing resumed and only increased his pace during an intense quadruple stint that was interrupted by five further full-course cautions that occurred in quick succession during the third and fourth hours of the race.

While the incessant stoppages can be a source of immense frustration for both driver and strategists, reducing the tempo and rhythm of the race, 8Star and Marsal maintained their composure and utilised the yellow-flag periods to conserve fuel, tyres and energy in the searing Florida heat.

Strategies continued playing out and, despite being understandably exhausted, Marsal never let up, pumping in competitive lap times to snatch the initiative in LMPC as his seat time came to a close.

The race was red-flagged with just over four hours completed when two of the leading LMPC contenders, Frankie Montecalvo and David Ostella, ploughed into the wall at the exit of Turn 17, destroying the tyre wall and scattering debris across the track.

The action recommenced once the clean-up operation had been completed, but not before Eric Lux took control of the #25 8Star challenger.

Sadly, moments into his stint, the Williamsville, New York-based racer span and suffered right-front damage that forced him to pit for repairs to the car’s suspension.

A rapid and thorough job from 8Star Motorsports’ mechanics ensured the car was soon ready for Kimber-Smith to return to the fray, albeit with an 18-lap deficit to make up to the class leaders as the race reached mid-distance.

Michael Marsal said: “The initial plan was for me to drive for 40 minutes and then do another longer stint towards the end of the race. One of the problems at Daytona was that Tom (Kimber-Smith) got stuck in the car for far too long at the end of the race and he was pretty tired. Running a quadruple stint gives the team more flexibility as far as driver changes are concerned and I was keen to extend my time in the car so the team could carry out fewer driver changes.

“It was tiring, but I’m okay. It was a really good stint and the car was fantastic. Obviously, we’ve had setup issues all weekend with the car pushing on and then suffering with snap oversteer, but what’s crazy about Sebring is that, one day you’ll have problems, then the car’s in the window all of a sudden, then three hours later you can be nowhere again. I really lucked out; from the time I got in the car to when I stepped out, the tyres held up well and the understeer was more than manageable. It’s a great car, the strategy worked out well with all the caution periods and we’re able to get to our maximum drive time.”

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