Pit lane penalty costs Automatic Racings newest pairing dear

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Yesterdays audition of Automatic Racing's latest Aston Martin Racing acquisition nearly saw its  driver crew compete for a podium in the latest round of IMSA's Michelin Pilot Challenge from Canadian Tyre Motorsport Park - had it not been for a simple pit lane transgression.

First seeing the new car displayed by the CSJ Motorsport organisation last time out in the series at Watkins Glen a couple of weeks ago, saw drivers Ari Balogh and Greg Liefooghe rekindle their former Sprint X partnership (also with an AMR Vantage GT4) to make remarkable progress in their new 2019 specification GT4, a car that they had only shaken down briefly at Sebring prior to this event.

Displaying what appeared to be a very simplistic yet thoroughly attractive multi-colour livery in the colours of Air BnN (a company that Balogh has direct connections with), that #97 car would race alongside the long standing Automatic Racing pairing of Kris Wilson and Gary Ferrera in the Stoner Car Care 2016, normally aspirated Vantage GT4.

Qualifying in P10 in class for the two hour race, Balogh soon messaged out his statement of intent posting successive fastest laps of the race in the opening quarter as he moved up to P5. The older #09 car of Ferrara was having no such luck as the venerable old Vantage struggled for pace to only just maintain a gap to the chasing TCR class yet alone challenge the leading GS cars.

Over ten minutes of the race was lost to a Full Course Caution after two TCR cars collided leaving one stranded just off track.  During the resulting wave around, that gave the  teams a chance to service their first stop and driver change placing Liefooghe in P14 overall and the #09 car of Kris Wilson down in P19 in class with just over an hour to go by the time they existed pit lane.

It was the now the turn of Liefooghe to pound in some quick laps in the sleek new Vantage GT4, quickly raising his track position up to P3 before many of the leading GS cars needed to pit for enough fuel to last the 40 minutes left to the chequered flag.

Pitting from just two seconds from behind the overall leader, the #97 car would be caught spinning its rear wheels whilst still on the car jacks - earning itself an immediate drive through penalty that would ultimately ruin its inaugural race.

Despite a further Safety Car period later that would leave just ten minutes of racing, that was sadly not enough for either AMR car to make any further in roads leaving them finishing in P10 for the #97 car and a class P19 for the #09 car.

It is hoped that this pairing see out the remainder of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge together.

Photo credits - IMSA / CSJ Motorsports / Automatic 

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