Monterey, Calif. (24 September 2017) – The Change Racing team looked to continue its winning momentum in Round 11 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, but a return to the IMSA podium was thwarted following an unlucky yellow flag midway through the race and the team settled for a ninth-place result.
A cloudless California sky warmed up the track just in time for the start of the two-hour and 40-minute event. Starting from the outside of the third row proved to be extra complicated as a gaggle of cars bunched into Turn 1 in an attempt to avoid a beached GTLM car at the apex. Looking to avoid the bottleneck of slowed cars, Lewis ran wide and by doing so lost positions. Once through the start, Lewis drove a clean opening stint and held eighth before turning the car over to Mul.
The team made the call for a unique pit stop strategy which included a short stint to begin with. The strategy proved to be the right one after assuming the lead 45 minutes into the race, until an untimely full course caution on lap 61 threw that plan for a loop.
“All weekend both guys have been the same pace so we knew it was going to be an aggressive strategy and we needed green flag conditions,” said Benton. “We didn’t need the caution to fall the way that it did. Up until the caution the strategy was working out exactly the way that we needed it to. We had about a 30-second lead at one point, but unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for us.”
Mul highlighted the race by leading the GTD field for 20 laps despite experiencing a lack of grip as the elevated track temperature accelerated the tire degradation. Mul drove to a ninth place finish after making a charge to the checkered to gain as many positions back as possible.
“We tried something different with the strategy and it looked like it was going to work,” said Mul. “Then the yellow threw some dust in that plan. For me it’s very satisfying to see and feel that we do have the pace and have the capability to produce a podium result. Big thanks to the team for not quitting throughout the entire weekend and giving us the best car that we could have had.”
Lewis, who had the difficult task to conserve fuel and tires while keeping the charging competition behind, managed well and was pleased with the team effort through the weekend.
“I had a really good pace in the opening stint and we were looking good,” Lewis said. “The strategy that we had, had the potential to give us another podium result. Unfortunately, during my middle stint, the rears just fell off and I lost a bunch of grip. I tried everything I could to try and save fuel and keep (Jeroen) Bleekemolen behind me. Now we will regroup for the finale at Atlanta. I can’t thank everyone from the Change Racing organization and everyone that supports us enough.”
The final race of the season will be at Road Atlanta on October 4-7 for the 10-hour Petit Le Mans event.
Lamborghini Super Trofeo
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American series concluded at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the second race of the weekend on Sunday.
Unfortunately, Richard Antinucci’s luck did not turn around for the second round of racing. After replacing the ECU following Saturday’s race, Antinucci experienced similar issues in the initial stages of Race 2 on Sunday and forced him to retire from on lap three. Antinucci finished his season second in the provisional championship standings.
Following Bryce Miller’s second place result on Saturday, the Californian looked to close out the season on a high note. With the sun providing for the warmest day of the weekend, Miller was focused on maintaining a smooth pace which ultimately aided him to lead the ProAm field for several laps. Unfortunately, Miller was just short of a podium result, closing out the 50-minute event in fourth. Miller’s season-long performance placed him third in the provisional Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American championship.
“I was able to put together some consistent laps after the start and was able to pull a gap,” said Miller. “Unfortunately, something about the seating position for me being a tall guy pinched my piriformis nerve and I slowly felt my leg start to go numb. I couldn’t really feel my brake pressure and made a mistake in my second stint that cost us a podium today. It’s been a great learning season and a great comeback from so many years out of the game. I really can’t thank the Change Racing guys enough for having so much faith in me and coaching me along the way.”