Close But No Cigar for Starworks at The Glen
July 2, 2014 – It was close but no cigar for both Starworks Motorsport Prototype Challenge cars at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The 7 car of Martin Fuentes and John Martin ran a near perfect race for a podium until a radio issue meant that it finished in fifth place at the chequered flag. The #8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca Chevrolet FLM09 also hit bad luck, when failing brakes caused an on track incident and a retirement with only eight minutes remaining of the six hours.
Running at The Glen commenced for the Fort Lauderdale squad with a sole PC practice on Friday. Both the 8 and 7 cars made a solid start to come P3 and P5 respectively in class, followed by a first class performance in practice two on Saturday morning when they topped the timesheets in P1 and P2. Less than half a second separated the top four PC cars in qualifying later in the afternoon, with the Starworks chargers locking down the second row of the grid, to line up for the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hours on Sunday with #8 in P3 and the 7 car in P4.
After another strong showing in morning warm up, both Starworks cars made a great start to the race. Renger van der Zande, in the Martini-liveried 8 car, was leading the class, with John Martin right behind in the 7 car in P3 by the end of lap one. By the first pit window Renger had built up a 30 seconds lead when Mirco jumped in while the team made a tire change and slapped in some fuel. He was running P1 at the end of the first hour when the first bit of bad luck struck the team.
John handed over the #7 Bomberg liveried Starworks to Martin Fuentes who proceeded to charge through the field. On the 8 car’s next entry to the pits, Mirco endured a long stop as the team repaired a broken mirror. He re-joined the field to run up to P4, with Martin in the 7 car ahead leading the class, when the first full course caution came out – one and a half hours in to the race.
The track didn’t stay green for long after the re-start and on Lap 67, just over the two hour mark, the flags went yellow again for a multi GT car incident. Martin was sitting pretty in #7 in P4 with Mirco keeping the front PC runners in his sights from the 8 car in P6. A spin and recovery for both Starworks cars on separate occasions set them back to P4 and P7 respectively as the enduro countdown reached half race distance.
The last driver change of the day saw a double stop for the team as both cars came in to the pits for Renger and John to take on the final stints. John in #7 was on a roll and running in podium position P3 while Renger was battling with traffic in P7.
The closing stages of the Six Hours were incident and caution filled. John made a stop allowing Renger to take P6 when the sky started to look a little grey. With talk of a potentially wet sprint finish, John and Renger made their charge in the final hour to carve up to P2 and P5 respectively.
As the clock counted down the final 30 minutes, a podium, possibly two, were looking to be on the cards. Renger in the 8 car had climbed up to P4, with John still ahead of him after a fuel stop, but now with a radio issue. A further full course yellow occurred and when the race went green for only a minute, Renger was unable to slow the 8 car due to brakes failure and ran in to the back of Scott Pruett’s #01 P car, taking them both out of contention and in to the tire wall.
The final full course yellow went green in time for a one lap dash to the chequer. With the team unable to contact John to advise him that he was able to pass the pace car to regain PC position, all he could do was bring the #7 Starworks PC home in P5, P10 overall, to secure some valuable points for the team.
John Martin, #7 Starworks Motorsport:
“I really feel bad for all the guys that we didn’t get the result that we deserved. Martin did a really good job in the car and gave it back to me after his stints in a good position.
All was looking ok for a podium first time out in LMPC for Starworks for me ‘til my last stint when we had a radio issue. I couldn’t talk to the team so when the caution came out I had no idea about the lap down wave around so we dropped down to p5.I would like to thank all the Starworks guys for the weekend and the opportunity to race at The Glen with them.”
Martin Fuentes, #7 Starworks Motorsport:
“This was one of the toughest weekends for race car drivers. After 5 and a half hours went by and with the #7 Bomberg-Under Armour Car fighting between 1st place and 4th, we encountered a radio problem on the last pit stop. We were unable to tell my teammate John Martin that the officials were authorizing 2nd to 5th place to pass the pace car and get in line behind the PC leader, so we lost 3 positions on the last 5 minutes of the race, without even racing. It was very painful to see our podium slip through our hands and now we concentrate on Indianapolis and learn from our mistakes.”
Renger van der Zande, #8 Starworks Motorsport:
“The race started well when I took the lead on lap one and drove 30 seconds away in the first stint. Mirco got spun around which dropped us two laps back and in to P8. When I got back in, I drove back all the way to P3 – the speed in the car was incredible and way the fastest out there. The podium direction was vanished when the brakes failed and I went into the wall together with the DP car in front of me. It’s a real shame as it was such a good race for us and for our position in the Championship. The only positive is that it’s great to see how strong we can perform.”
The 8 car is now second in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship team standings with the 7 car in P9. Renger van der Zande is second on the Drivers’ table, with Martin in third and Mirco in fourth place at this point in the TUSC season.
#8 Starworks is currently third in class, the 7 car in eleventh, in the North American Endurance Championship with one round remaining – Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.