Two consecutive weekends of Michelin Pilot Challenge competition yield solid results for the team
WATKINS GLEN, NY (3 July 2021) – The Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team completed a solid week of action at Watkins Glen International with a steady performance in Friday’s Sahlen’s 120, race five of the 2021 Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
Drivers Rob Ecklin Jr. (Lancaster, Pa.) and Ramin Abdolvahabi (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) returned to Watkins Glen International for the second consecutive weekend, after seeing the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4 take the lead for 11 laps in last weekend’s four-hour Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240.
The duo had some extra work during the sprint race, as the Aston Martin was carrying 30 kilos (66 lbs.) of added ballast following a performance adjustment by IMSA. The added weight effects all aspects of the car’s performance, from acceleration to braking, but the team worked hard to adjust and still get the maximum lap time from the Aston Martin.
Part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s WeatherTech 240 at the Glen, the tight, two-day event began with a one-hour practice session and 15-minute qualifying scheduled for Thursday afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans, as torrential rains prompted the team to make the difficult decision to forego the practice session – especially considering the extensive track time the team had experienced just a few days earlier. Abdolvahabi took the wheel for qualifying, putting the Aston Martin P18 for Friday’s race.
Abdolvahabi was set to take the green flag for the afternoon race start until a car lost control on the pace lap and crashed into a barrier in Turn 7. The race clock began as scheduled as the field continued under yellow behind the pace car, with the green flag finally coming out 17 minutes into the race.
Under increasingly threatening skies, Abdolvahabi began to make his way through the field, taking advantage of penalties and early attrition to reach 13th place before heading to pit lane for fuel, four Michelin tires and a change to Ecklin.
“We had a good jump at the start and the car felt good,” said Abdolvahabi. “Our strategy was to work with the yellows, but the extra yellow at the end put a damper on that. But all in all, it was a clean race, with good pit stops. The track felt a bit slower than last week because of the change in temperature. But it was a good week here at Watkins Glen.”
Ecklin returned to the fray mired in the TCR class and worked hard to extricate himself from the slower cars. With 49 minutes remaining, he had returned to the GS class competitors in 15th position but had to pit with 25 minutes remaining which put him back into 17th. Ecklin once again set about making his way forward, but a lengthy late yellow and intermittent rain impeded his progress. When the checkered flag fell, the team had taken a hard-fought 16th place finish.
“It was a challenging stint,” said Ecklin. “We ran good pace, with good lap times, but we struggled to get the slick tires up to temperatures coming away from the pit stops – and then of course, we had some rain to deal with. That late restart made for a fight to the finish. We ended up P16, which is the same position we ended up in last weekend.
“It was fun to do back-to-back races at Watkins Glen. I was pleased to have a stint with better lap times though not happy we weren’t able to improve our position. This is a tough track and you have to fight hard. Nothing comes easy here but that makes it fun.”
About Stoner Car Care
Stoner Car Care produces high-performance car washes, waxes, polishes, and dressings for auto enthusiasts and car care professionals. The Stoner Car Care lineup includes Invisible Glass, America’s #1 Automotive Glass Cleaner, along with many other appearance products. Whether driving, washing or waxing, Performance Matters! Stoner Car Care proudly formulates all of our product since 1942. www.stonercarcare.com
About Invisible Glass
Automatic Racing sees its way to victory with Invisible Glass, the top-selling automotive glass cleaner in the United States. The Invisible Glass product line includes aerosol and spray bottle cleaner, Invisible Glass with rain repellent for windshields and wiper blades. Find more online at https://www.invisibleglass.
About Automatic Racing
Based in Orlando, Automatic Racing is one of the longest-running teams in the paddock, forming in 2001 and competing in all but one of the 11 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge races at Daytona. The team has been developing, preparing and racing the prestigious Aston Martin Vantage GT4 since 2012. Automatic Racing won the 2017 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge title.