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Mar 18, 2014 - 11:15 AM
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Pumpelly's Sebring Race Plagued with Bad Luck
Posted by: newsla on Mar 18, 2014 - 11:14 AM
Pumpelly's Sebring Race Plagued with Bad Luck

Spencer Pumpelly and the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 team had high hopes coming into Sebring International Raceway after a podium finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. Unfortunately, four different flat tires hindered the team’s best-laid plans during the infamous 12-hour race.


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Though the No. 45 started toward the back of the GTD grid, it quickly moved toward the front of the class during the opening hours of the race, which was fraught with full-course cautions. But just as the No 45 was making forward progress, lady luck pulled her back. The car suffered not one, not two, but four seperate flat tires during the endurance race, losing approximately two laps each time the car was forced to pit.

One of the flat tires was the result of contact while Pumpelly was behind the wheel.

“I got hit by another Audi after I passed him,” Pumpelly recalled. “He took a bit of an opportunistic look, we made contact, and I almost went off the road. I managed to hold on, ran down him back down and passed him, but the damage done to the rim finally let go and we had to pit for yet another tire.”

The stellar Flying Lizard pit crew did their best to get the No. 45 in and out of the pits quickly with each tire change, but the set backs just kept coming for Pumpelly and co-drivers Nelson Canache Jr., Alessandro Latif and Markus Winkelhock.

“We tried to battle back and then it’d happen again,” Pumpelly said. “We had really bad luck. At the end, there was a car putting oil down and the windshield was getting covered. It got so bad Winkelhock had to come in. Every time we’d make good strides and get a lap back, something would happen and we’d go right back the other way.”

Pumpelly brought the No. 45 across the finish line in eighth place, two laps behind the leaders.

“Luck was not in our favor at Sebring in any way, shape or form,” Pumpelly lamented. “The Flying Lizard guys did the best they could to make up for it. We showed up looking for a win and the championship lead, but ended up struggling. Sometimes racing is about luck and this was one of those races.”

The eighth-place finish puts Pumpelly tied for second in the TUDOR United SportsCar GTD Drivers’ Championship, 12 points out of the lead.

“It’s a missed opportunity when it comes to championship points, but I think we’re still okay,” Pumpelly said. “We’re about to get back to the sprint race setting where it will be just Nelson and I facing our usual competitors and not all the teams will have all their driver available to them. It’s going to be a different landscape moving forward. We survived the first two and now we’ll get into the thick of things.”

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTD class next races May 3 – 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., not far from Flying Lizard Motorsports’ home base in Sonoma.

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