Austin, Texas (5 May 2017) – It was a big day in Texas on Friday for StevensonMotorsports as the team qualified for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race (FS1, 7:00 PM ET) with the No. 57 Audi R8 LMS, shortly before making a big impression in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race debut for the all-new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge
Stevenson Motorsports co-drivers, Matt Bell and Robin Liddell returned to Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC) competition with the sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. The team proved that although they had a brand-new machine on their hands, they came prepared to compete for a victory.
Practice – or lack thereof – was the most frustrating part of the short two-day race weekend for the team. The Camaro only clocked 10 timed laps between three practice sessions after struggling with an overheating gearbox. After installing a replacement, Bell set out for qualifying on Friday with a lack of track time, but still managed a fifth-place starting position.
Bell, who took the green flag, wasted no time at the start of the race, quickly sliding into third where he found a rhythm in his 45-minute stint before turning the car over to Liddell.
Liddell, who like Bell was without an interior cooling system, didn’t let the heat and lack of grip faze him as he moved his V8 powered machine into clean air, leading seven laps of the race.
Ultimately a lack of grip combined with a lot of straight line speed from the competition saw the No. 57 cede the lead before coming home fifth at the end of the two hour race.
Round 3 of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge takes place June 29th – July 2nd at Watkins Glen International.
Matt Bell: “I think that was just the debut we wanted to see. We are learning about the car, we have some really valuable data, we know what we need to work on and I think we are going to be stronger for the rest of the season. For such a new program and having so few laps with the car, it was a pleasant surprise to have the car run up front. Robin (Liddell) did a great job especially for having no driver cooling. You could see Robin putting his hand out of the window trying to cool himself down. I don’t envy him for the little bit longer stint! I am very excited to see what the rest of the season brings.”
Robin Liddell: “To begin with, it felt quite great, but quickly I realized we were losing grip in the slow corners. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the performance of the car. It was a lot hotter in the car than I expected and ultimately having been out front early on was frustrating because you could see it was going backwards. It was a really great effort by the team and everyone else and I am happy with that finish.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS took to the track early Thursday for a day consisting of two practice sessions. With warm and windy conditions, the team utilized each session to dial in the car’s grip level as the track temperatures heated up throughout the afternoon session.
“Our car was actually quite good in practice,” said Lawson Aschenbach. “Over the long run, we have been struggling for rear grip which seems to be the theme for the weekend for a lot of different cars. We have just been focusing on getting the car going for a long run as well as focusing on tire longevity. Our Audi R8 LMS has been spot on, we just flat out don’t have the straight line speed and it’s pretty simple that it’s a balance of performance issue. I’m really happy with the Audi so far and I think everyone is doing a really great job this weekend.”
Both Davis and Aschenbach maintained modest results throughout practice on Friday morning, hovering around the P5 mark. Ahead of qualifying, the team hoped to break into the low 2:07s and land within the top-five. Unfortunately, Davis – who qualified the car – came up just short, closing out the qualifying session P6.
“Going into qualifying the track temperatures had already gone up, so I knew the grip levels wouldn’t be as good as they were this morning,” said Davis. “The Audi still performed well and I have to thank the Stevenson Motorsports crew. We are driving it as hard as we can and the unfortunate thing for us right now is that you can’t drive it any faster down the straightaway and it’s obvious on the speed traps. Right now, we will start sixth and we will go from there and focus on race pace.”
The green flag will wave tomorrow at 1:35 PM CT (2:35 PM ET) for the 2 hour and 40-minute Advance Auto Parts Sports Car Showdown. Tune into scoring.imsa.com for live timing or watch a same-day delayed broadcast of the race at 7:00 PM ET on FS1.