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Mar 18, 2014 - 06:12 AM
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GMG Shows Resilience, Preparation in 11th Place at Sebring
Posted by: newsla on Mar 18, 2014 - 06:11 AM
USCR News
GMG Shows Resilience, Preparation in 11th Place at Sebring


After a long, hard-fought effort to stay in the top ten throughout much of the 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, a late race incident would force Global Motorsports Group (GMG) to ultimately cross the finish line in 11th place. Though the end result would place the team just outside of their target finish, the effort and scope of the team’s run was in many ways a victory.

 

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“I just hope everyone understands how hard this crew worked to get us there,” stated James Sofronas, team owner of GMG. “This is a small team that’s used to sprint racing, and to come into Sebring, have some of the fastest pit stops out there and rebound from an accident after only a few minutes in the garage, is just amazing. We really wanted to deliver a strong top ten for Alex and all of the guys, but at least we can walk away knowing we can be proud of the effort we put in. We made very few mistakes within our control.”

Qualifying as the top Audi, yet mired back in 16th spot, the team was aware of the uphill battle that was about to unfold. With a clear balance-of-performance gap between the top speed of Audi entrants versus the other marques, the No. 32 GMG / Morgan Adams Foundation Audi R8 LMS would have to take a safe, consistent approach in order to reach the team’s aim for a top ten.

With Marc Basseng taking the green flag, the experience of the German took shape quickly as the No. 32 immediately began making work of the field in front of it.

Driving a strong opening stint, by the time the extended series of yellow flags wrapped out, the No. 32 machine found itself threatening the top ten with Basseng handing the vehicle over to co-driver Alex Welch in strong contention.

Getting to speed quickly, Welch’s strength in the Audi paid immediate dividends as the Colorado resident continued the pace that Basseng had set. Unfortunately, midway through his stint, Welch was served a penalty for an alleged team pit infraction, placing the Sebring sophomore slightly down the order as he resumed.

Without further incident, it was up to Sofronas to carry the reigns, and he did so without error running a double stint of his own and setting some of the best times among Audi machines in the field.

As attrition carried on, the goal for their first top ten seemed easily attainable by the time the race reached its halfway point with the team sitting between eighth and tenth as pit stops cycled through.

One significant contributor to the team’s pace came in the form of pit stops. With an unusually high number of caution periods, the majority of pit stops performed were under yellow flag conditions putting an emphasis on quick stops as teams were forced to go head-to-head with others pitting at the same time. As it all added up, the preparation by the GMG crew played significantly as they made a number of gains in the pits eventually putting them comfortably in eighth.

Unfortunately, with just over an hour remaining, driver Marc Basseng made late-race contact with the DeltaWing in the tricky turn 13 causing significant damage to the right front of the Audi. Instantly knowing the issue, Basseng brought the car around to the paddock for repairs, and the team immediately went to work on a number of suspension components.

Within 15 minutes the crew had not only made the necessary repairs, but also had the car aligned and ready to race. With the car now in 11th, and with 10th place too far ahead to be able to catch, it was up to James Sofronas to simply drive the remaining 30 minutes to the checkered flag which he did without error.

The No. 32 would take the checkered for the first time in the short history of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and for that team owner James Sofronas is very complimentary of his crew.

“It’s really impressive to get the car turned around as quickly as they did,” stated Sofronas. “When I went back out for the end, I couldn’t believe how good the car was, you wouldn’t have known it was even in an incident. Full compliment to these guys, they deserved to see the finish.”

For Alex Welch, making his second visit to Sebring, there was some consolation in the finish knowing that a lot of money was raised for a good cause.

“We had a special pledge drive for the Morgan Adams Foundation, and in that sense every lap literally did matter,” stated Welch. “It was great to see this car run the whole way and something we really needed after Daytona. Marc showed a lot of pace, and everyone here did a great job of navigating a crazy race. Now that we have a finish under our belt, a top ten is next and I’m confident it’s just a matter of time.”

Finally, despite the late incident, Marc Basseng was proud of the effort.

“We had a good last two stints, the car was awesome,” stated Basseng. “Unfortunately, I was braking on my line and the DeltaWing had already opened the door and I was actually behind in the apex and she still hit me, so she completely out braked herself. It’s too bad, we made some progress with the guys and we had it planned so James could finish the race, but now we’ve ruled out a top-ten finish. I’m sorry that it happened, but I don’t feel that it was my fault.”

With Sebring now behind them, GMG will turn their attention to their efforts in the Pirelli World Challenge championship that will begin in St. Petersburg, Florida in two weeks. The team will announce their plans shortly.


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