Frustration and disappointment for AMR runners after Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Having been frustrated by misfortune on track for his previous two visits to the IMSA sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge Series, Indian driver Akhil Rabindra was hoping for something better as the Series visited the Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca on the west coast of the USA at the weekend.

Being joined this time by Stoner Car Care's Rob Ecklin Jnr, the crew of the #09 CSJ Motorsport supplied Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 Qualified for Saturdays two hour race in P7 having had some overheating issues with the car in the earlier sessions of Friday.

With Ecklin starting the race, he did well to avoid a first lap multi car incident that affected three cars immediately beside and to the rear to establish a consistent pace in P6 until a Full Course Yellow for debris neutralised the race immediately before the first scheduled stops for the GS (GT4) class cars. Being permitted to pit under the Safety Car another case Automatic Racing's poor pit stop procedures dropped the #09 down to P13 by the track went back to green.

The sister #97 Invisible Glass liveried car of Kris Wilson Gary Ferrera would also be penalised for spinning the wheels again during their stop and that would ultimately spoil their race.

With tyre degradation becoming an obvious issue it soon became a case of not whether on not the car had enough fuel to get to the end but also that of whether the tyres would last out with other teams sacrificing track position for the benefit of new rubber - that was shown to be anything up to 5 seconds per lap difference.

The #97 would add to their woes after a heavy impact with a BMW GT4 whilst overtaking a TCR car - simply a case of the Aston not being aware of the immediate proximity of the BMW in that manoeuvre.

With less than 30 minutes remaining, Rabindra had quietly made his way up to P2 in a top trio of cars that had yet to made their final stop for fuel. Taking the gamble, the team elected to only refuel him and not replace any of his somewhat 'tired' rubber. The delay in his fuel stop alone dropped him back to P9 by the time he returned to the track but that was only to get worse when it was realised that they didn't get enough fuel on board for him to reach the end of the race.

A further 'splash and dash' stop for Rabindra dropped the #09 car back to P18 at the finish an away behind the sister #97 car who finished in P11 despite all of their issues.

With all having travelled so far to get to this penultimate round of the season, that was all a bitter pill to swallow - hopefully the crews can shine at the season finale at Petit Le Mans later next month.

Photo credits - CSJ / Stoner Car Care

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