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Jul 27, 2014 - 05:44 AM
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8star's Promising Indianapolis Debut Ruined By Pit Lane Penalty
Posted by: newsla on Jul 27, 2014 - 05:40 AM
8star's Promising Indianapolis Debut Ruined By Pit Lane Penalty

In a weekend in which 8star Motorsport looked set to deliver the team's first victory in the Tudor United Sports Car Championship (USCC) Prototype Challenge Class, the team left for the long journey back to their Florida base with nothing more than a sixth place and a bitter pill to swallow following a stewarding decision that snatched away what looked like an odds on victory.


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The teams strong driver pairing of Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz had exploited a decent qualifying effort, where Mexican Diaz had put the car in third spot on a competitive grid, took the 8star machine quickly forward to lead the class and run an incredible eighth overall by as early as the third lap. Diaz at the wheel for the first stint and looking completely in control leading from the front and set to deliver on the teams pre ordained strategy to pull a lead before handing the car to Rayhall.

A series of full course yellows bunched the field and still leading, the team decided to use the third lengthy caution period to pit Diaz early, where great pit work saw him retain his lead as the other competitors chose to follow suit.

However, the team were informed that they had passed the red light at the end of the pit lane and therefore must pit again to serve a 60-second penalty for the infringement. With Rayhall having now taken over the car, he immediately returned to pit road to serve the punishment, emerging sixth in class and a lap down on the field with the true severity of the penalty being two minutes with pit road time and penalty time combined.

The best efforts of Rayhall were in vane, as despite a series of fastest laps, he was unable to recover the deficit imposed on the team and was resigned to finish in sixth, scant reward for the pace and strategy the team had displayed.

The post race mood was understandably disappointing and team owner, Enzo Potilicchio, found it hard to disguise his frustration and anger at a decision that had no reasonable explanation, “We could have won that, should have won that in fact. We made a great call in the pits and we got hit with a penalty that gained us no advantage that our competitors didn’t, but it cost us the race.”

Diaz was equally vocal in his dissatisfaction at the decision that had blighted what was an excellent performance by the experienced Mexican driver, "I didn't see the red light when I was coming out of the pits, and that was a problem. I was busy with the buttons and you don't expect the pits to be closed at the exit. These things happen, it's a tough lesson, but I need to learn from this."

Sean Rayhall, who had nothing to show for what was in isolation a quick and faultless second stint, was defensive of Diaz and angry that the opportunity to win had been taken from himself and the team. “Starting my stint with an outlap followed by a pit lane penalty was crazy, I should have been racing for the victory not sixth place, the team and Luis did everything right and we had the car and the pace to win”

Gary Neal, 8Star Team Manager, was more upbeat as the dust settled, “We've got to learn from this, it’s another race procedure system to add to our checklist, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the drivers to observe the signals of the officials. That said, we got everything else right this weekend and have a strong package that will challenge next time out at Road America.”

Despite the setback, the team move on to Road America in two weeks time to set the record straight and search out the win that has thus far eluded them in their USCC debut year.

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