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Top-10 Finish for GB Autosport at Virginia International Raceway
Posted by: newsla on Aug 25, 2014 - 06:30 PM
USCR News
Top-10 Finish for GB Autosport at Virginia International Raceway


GB Autosport delivered another solid performance in IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition on Sunday as drivers Michael Lewis and Damien Faulkner drove to a 10th place result in an exciting race on the classic Virginia International Raceway.

 

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The continued progress for the first year team was on display as the squad led the race with just over an hour to go in the 2.75-hour event with the No. 81 Tully’s Coffee Porsche GT America out front at Team Manager Cole Scrogham’s home track.

Lewis, who made his TUDOR Championship debut with GB Autosport over the weekend, showed well in his first race laps around VIR in the No. 81 Tully’s Porsche GT America. Though new to the series, Lewis is no stranger to Porsche machinery and he quickly adapted to the 911 GT America machine. In his opening stint, which saw him avoid a bit of a setback as he avoided a spinning car ahead of him, Lewis stayed firmly inside the top-10 before taking to pit lane.

He worked his way up to seventh when the team called him to pit lane for the team’s first pit stop.

Unfortunately, the GB Autosport squad was caught out when a full course yellow was displayed just moments after the call to pit. With the pits closed per IMSA yellow flag procedure, Lewis was forced to remain out on track and Team Manager Scrogham called for him to save every bit of fuel he could under the yellow.

Despite saving fuel, several laps of slow circulating added up before the pit was opened, forcing the team to take to pit lane for an emergency splash of fuel, which necessitated a second complete stop for full service once the pits opened as Faulkner returned to the track 11th in the order.

“To get the opportunity to run for GB Autosport in this race was pretty rad!” said an enthused Lewis following the race. “I just tried to hand it off to Damien (Faulkner) as high as I could. When it came to some fighting I am definitely new to this style of racing and the guys out there were going a little bit harder than I am used to so I had to watch out. But once I picked up how to fight back, I felt like I could take it to them, but unfortunately then the yellow came out and we were all in a pack. The lap times of the Tully’s Porsche were really good though, and Damien put in some of the fastest lap times of the race. So a big thanks to GB Autosport and Michael (Avenatti) for giving me my first opportunity in this series. So thank you to them and to my sponsors for letting me do this. Honestly, the first three laps I was out there I was a little bit like ‘holy crap, I’m really out here racing and on TV and everything!’ so it was a lot of fun overall and I just want to thank GB Autosport and everyone on the Tully’s team again for the great opportunity.”

Faulkner moved up to 10th at the restart and had progressed up to ninth when the second full course caution of the race was displayed. When several cars ahead opted to pit under the yellow, Faulkner found himself second in the order for the restart with just over one hour remaining. When the race went back to green, Faulkner took over the race lead while restarting among several GTLM class machines.

With 45 minutes remaining in the race, Faulkner fought lack of grip after a longer stint of green flag running and fought to hang on to the lead. He defended hard against the GTD machines that had already pitted and ran on fresher tires, but the lack of grip proved too much and the No. 81 slipped to second. The No. 63 Ferrari was close behind and looked to make a pass, only to go hard side-by-side with Faulkner, knocking the left side mirror off of the No. 81 Porsche.

With some helpful spotting from the team, Faulkner was able to maneuver his way around the 17-turn course until he asked to pit when one of the tires was flat spotted with just over 30 minutes to go, relinquishing fifth place with the Tully’s Porsche. Replacing the mirror per IMSA rules and taking on fresh Continental Tires, Faulkner returned to race action and was able to fight to a 10th place finish on the day.

“It’s frustrating because I just couldn’t hold the BMW back,” said Faulkner of defending for the lead. “Then the Ferrari got alongside me and took my door mirror off. And it’s very difficult when you have no mirror so I had to push really hard to try to maintain some run of a gap so I could stay potentially out of an incident. Our usual spotter isn’t here so Cole (Scrogham) was doing what he could to spot for me from the pit lane. We persevered and slowly got overtaken by more people and that was just due to the tire being flat spotted. In the end we had to pit again for fuel anyway. The stars didn’t align today.”

“Michael Lewis got a trial by fire and I think race was an eye opening experience for him,” said Team Manager Cole Scrogham. “And just think how much more eye opening it would have been if the prototypes were here. But he did a great job. He brought the car back cleanly and that was all I asked him to do, so that was great. We kind of got forced into an alternate strategy by virtue of having a very untimely caution. Honestly, I’m a little unsure about some of the fuel tanks in this series because we were in conservation mode the first half of the race so no one could have had more fuel than us and we had to make an emergency stop while others didn’t. So we got forced into a strategy that said we could come back out in a 11th place since we took emergency service, or we could stay out and hope for more cautions and get up front. So we decided to stay out and get up front! But then Damien (Faulkner) unfortunately flat-spotted a tire and we had to pit for that and to fix a mirror so that took us out of contention. But then again at the end somehow we had a shot to make up some spots. It was just a wild race, we were a yo-yo. But it was good. It is better to finish 10th with a fast car having a few small problems than to finish 10th with a slow car just struggling for speed. So great job to the whole team this weekend.”

GB Autosport will next head to Austin, Texas for Round 10 of the TUDOR Championship at Circuit of the Americas on September 19 & 20.

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