Triple Back to Back Podiums Bring Championship Title Closer at Mid-Ohio
16th June 2013: Starworks Motorsport achieved its first triple back to back podiums with a P3 finish by the 2 car in the ‘Diamond Cellar Classic’ at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Both Starworks Ford Riley’s were in the points as the 8 car took the chequered flag to complete the top 10 finishing positions. Only two points now separate the top three teams on the Championship leader board, with the #2 Starworks in third place on 171 points.
Following impressive lap times by both Starworks cars during practice on Friday (session 1: #2 Starworks, P2 & #8 Starworks, P8; session 2: #8 P2 and #2 P12; session 3 #2 P2 and #8 P5) qualifying saw Scott Mayer in the 8 car encounter a fuel pressure issue before he could complete a full timed lap. Alex Popow in the 2 car set the sixth fastest time overall to be the highest placed Ford Riley and start the race from the third row of the grid on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Popow maintained P6 after a clean start to the 2 hours and 45 minutes race. Unfortunately Scott Mayer in the Starworks sister car made contact with #43 in to turn four to bring out an early full course yellow, but after a quick visit to the pits #8’s race briefly went green before contact between #6 and #1 brought out another, this time lengthy, yellow only seven laps in.
The race re-started after 27 minutes with Brendon Hartley now driving #8 Starworks in P23. At the 45 minute mark Alex made a charge to regain P6 after his stop, but another lengthy full course yellow meant that he was unable to make up position before Ryan Dalziel took over #2 driving duties in the ever evolving race.
By the half way stage Brendon had taken the 8 car through the field to knock on the door of the top 10. Ryan was also pushing #99 ahead of him right up until the final scheduled DP cycle of stops. As the team can only pass cars in the pits, the strategy was all about great stops. The Starworks crew jumped the 2 car ahead of the Corvette to take P5 on lap 74 as they rejoined the race for the final stint. As the race lead changed hands with 20 minutes to go, a spin upfront ensured Ryan the P4 spot.
The sprint to the finish was exciting in both the DP and GT classes. A last minute necessary splash and dash stop by Negri in the closing laps of the DP race assured Ryan P3 and another podium finish for Starworks Motorsport. Brendon Hartley took the chequered flag in a well deserved P10 after an epic endurance race from the rear of the grid. The #8 Starworks car now sits in 11th place on the Championship table.
Peter Baron, Team Owner: “After qualifying we saw another 1-5 Corvette grid. The work that needs to be done on the balance of power caused us to try to just move the theme of the day to a points gaining mode. We had nothing for the leaders, but as we have seen the last few races, the drivers were perfect and the crew did a fantastic job in the pits today. We had a seventh place car today; it was all about outstanding driving and great crew work, and a few incidents on track allowed us to keep the podium stake alive. When the checker waved we found ourselves only two points out of the lead. We are now moving to the four tracks that tend to lessen the Corvette advantage, and here is where we will have our best shots at winning. It’s getting a bit old watching the GM powered cars pull us out of all the slow speed corners!”
Ryan Dalziel, #2 Starworks: “Really great result for us today. We gained some important points in the championship and we know the next few tracks are really strong for Starworks cars. I am really proud of the whole team effort and my team mate Alex Popow. It’s podiums that win championships and we are really happy to continue pushing for the first win of the season and get the championship lead.”
The next round of the GRAND-AM Rolex Series is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, Watkins Glen, NY, (second round of North American Endurance Championship) is on 6/30 at 11:00 AM ET and broadcast on SPEED (live).