Stevenson Motorsports has a Rollercoaster Weekend

Rollercoaster Weekend for Stevenson Motorsports at Watkins Glen International

Watkins Glen, N.Y. (3 July 2016) – As back-to-back IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge winners at Watkins Glen (2014 & 2015), Stevenson Motorsports arrived at the historic road course fully aware of what it takes to find success around the track’s 3.4 miles. The team proved its prowess early on in the weekend, sweeping every practice session and finishing the final warmup with both team Audi R8 LMS machines at the top of the time charts. Stevenson Motorsports also led the most race laps of any car in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship GTD class.

Unfortunately, that pace in practice did not translate to positive results as racing issues beyond the team’s control forced the shared No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis into early retirement and an 11th place result.

Despite leading 19 laps in the second half of the race, the bad luck was also shared by the No. 9 Stevenson Audi R8 LMS driven by Matt Bell and Lawson Aschenbach as the duo came home a disappointed sixth on Sunday.

After both team cars swapped the top position in every single practice session during the weekend, Liddell capped off the team’s perfect streak when he posted a flying lap time of 1:45.407-seconds in qualifying to earn pole position for the Jacksonville, North Carolina-based team while Aschenbach filed in just behind for a third place start.

Unfortunately, a post qualifying technical infraction sent the No. 6 car to the back of the field for the six hour endurance classic. But for the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Championship-winning team, the penalty posed little issue as they showcased the strength of their new Audi machinery, joining with the brother No. 9 car to sweep the morning warmup at the top of the time charts.

The change in the grid would see the No. 9 Audi R8 LMS start from the front row in second.

Liddell took the green flag in his No. 6 Audi R8 and immediately got down to business, making quick work of moving up the 14-car GTD class field. Setting laps faster than the leaders, he worked his way from last place to first place in an impressive one hour and 10 minutes. Despite being held up by a slower car and sustaining contact to the right front, Liddell held on to first place until a puncture in his left rear tire sent him to the pits at the one hour 42 minute mark.

Flawless work from the team to quickly repair damage and give the Audi fresh Continental Tires and fuel saw Davis out to rejoin the field and make his own run back up the pack, as he methodically ticked off positions to gain back lost laps.

But tire issues bit Davis with one hour and 42 minutes remaining in the race. Shortly after pitting for a fresh left rear, the native Georgian noticed a change in the engine tone. Unfortunately that issue ultimately forced the No. 6 into early retirement with just under two hours left to run, with the group accepting an 11th place finish.

Starting from second place, Aschenbach showed off a strong opening stint, remaining in podium contention and leading the race before handing the No. 9 Audi over to Bell about 15 minutes prior to the two hour mark.

Excellent strategy and a quick pit stop by the crew saw Bell rejoin in good position and quickly take over the race lead, which he maintained for the remainder of his time in the car. Unfortunately, tire issues hit the No. 9 as well, followed in short succession by some ill-timed caution periods, ultimately costing valuable track position for the Audi after leading 85 laps.

Although Aschenbach maintained a strong race pace after hopping back in the car with just under two hours left to compete, even setting laps faster than the leaders, a podium was simply not in the cards for the Stevenson crew at Watkins Glen.

“Obviously this was not the day we really expected,” explained Team Strategist Mike Johnson. “We knew it was going to be a hard day, but when you have fast cars all weekend and lead a whole lot of laps and run up front without a result to reflect that, it’s difficult. Then the tire issues started and just kept throwing us further off of where we needed to be. Unfortunately we had that tire issue on the No. 9 almost at the worst possible time because we were short on fuel. I thought we could maybe stretch it and get a gap but then the yellow came out which really made a mess out of out. Then another yellow came out and that was really the nail in our coffin. Now we have to get the cars repaired and ready and get both cars packed up and up to Mosport in a week, so it’s going to be a bit of a tough week, but we will keep our heads down and do what needs to be done and look to do better next weekend.”

The team faces a quick turnaround as they are back in racing action again next weekend for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as they take on Round 5 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship