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Jul 26, 2014 - 06:53 AM
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Tough Outing for Tully's at the Brickyard Grand Prix
Posted by: newsla on Jul 26, 2014 - 06:51 AM
Sports Cars
Tough Outing for Tully's at the Brickyard Grand Prix


GB Autosport’s hopes of kissing the bricks at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway were dashed almost as quickly as the race began when contact from behind sent opening driver Matt Bell spinning just over 20 minutes into the 2.75-hour race.

 

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Despite fast and focused work from the entire team on the No. 81 Tully’s Porsche 911 GT America, Bell and co-driver Damien Faulkner settled for a 16th place finish when the checkers fell on the Brickyard Grand Prix.

Round 7 of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship highlighted the trademark teamwork of the Tully’s Coffee sponsored crew. An issue in qualifying saw Faulkner put in only two flying laps around the 2.435-mile, 14-turn road course and credited the team with an 11th place starting position. Despite the short qualifying run, the team went into the race confident knowing they had made improvements on the Porsche all weekend long.

Bell began the race with promise, holding his position throughout the opening laps despite the first of the three full-course cautions being thrown just 17 minutes in. After consistently besting his fast lap times during green flag running in the opening laps and holding strong on the first restart, misfortune struck the No. 81 as Bell was caught up in a multi-car accident in Turn-9.

Spun from behind and struck by a Prototype, the contact broke the rear right upright and forced Bell to make an unscheduled trip down pit lane for repairs just 25 minutes into the race.

The Tully’s crew sprang into action, making quick work of what should have been over an hour-long repair and returned Bell to the track in just over half an hour, minutes before the race passed the one-hour mark. A lengthy full-course caution at the 35-minute mark also helped the crew in their repairs, as the entire field ran under yellow for over half an hour.

Bell returned to the track just before the green flag fell a few minutes past the one-hour mark and set to work in the No. 81 machine, quickly setting lap times faster than the three cars ahead of him as he worked to make up for lost time. He completed the remainder of his stint cleanly, holding steady in 16th position and methodically making up lost laps as he pitted with slightly over one-hour remaining to hand the car over to Faulkner.

A speedy stop had Faulkner back out on track in no time, as he quickly got up to speed. Unfortunately, the incident at the beginning of the race put Faulkner out of the opportunity to truly challenge for position throughout the rest of his stint despite consistently setting race laps on par with the class leaders, and even setting the fastest lap in class on lap 80.

“It was a point-salvaging day for us today,” said Team Manager Cole Scrogham after the race. “It was really a testament to these guys that they got a lot of work done. In just 33 minutes they changed everything in the left-rear corner of the car so that is really good. We were prepared to do that and had everything set up and ready to go, so that was great. At the end of the race we had seven minutes to spare to get the points. If there is anything at the end of the year that makes up 15 or 16 points, that’s what we will remember. But there were other encouraging things. Even the car was reassembled and fixed, the car was still slightly damaged. The alignment wasn’t perfect and we damaged the exhaust which had us down on power and but we were still able to run lap times that were pretty close to the top cars, so that was really encouraging. Hopefully we can get just one race where we actually have some luck and everything goes just right and we have a fast car at the same time and something good is going to happen.”

GB Autosport will look to score a more representative result in the next round of TUDOR competition at Road America on August 8-10.

GB Autosport Driver Quotes:
Matt Bell – “My stint was challenging. I was doing my best to just try and take care of the car. That was the plan from the very first lap and then there was that big mess I got caught up. A car in front of me braked and then I got pushed into him and was spun around and sitting backwards in front of half of the Prototype field, so that was no good. But the whole GB Autosport team is really awesome though. They all have a really great kind of outlook on everything and they got an hour job done in much less than that and got me back out on track. Then I was just trying to take care and not push too much and get it back without any further problems. Then Damien was just flying when he got out there. We proved the car is fast and it really had the pace, but it was just unfortunate we couldn’t really do anything with that speed.”

Damien Faulkner – “What happened with Matt was just really unfortunate. I don’t think there was anything he could have done about it, he just got caught out. But the repair was substantial and even though the crew got it done in double-quick time, once you have an incident like that you are basically out of the race. So it became sort of a challenge to get some points. Unfortunately even though we did get points, we couldn’t score the points we were looking for. We are still trying to learn these tires. We have had to reset our parameters and that is the steep learning curve we are still working on. We worked and worked on the car all throughout the weekend and I think we actually had a really good car for the race. It is just a case of what might have been, but the team worked really hard and on to the next one! Michael (Avenatti) is sitting at home after his operation and wants to see us do well as we want to see him recover, and unfortunately we weren’t’ able to do that this weekend but we know we can do a lot better as the last result proves.”

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