Stevenson Motorsports Top 10/Sebring

Stevenson Motorsports Perseveres For Top-10 in Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Debut

Sebring, Fla. (19 March 2016) – Just two months after their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at Daytona International Speedway, Stevenson Motorsports scored another top-10 finish at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday.

For round two of the premier North American sportscar championship, Connor De Phillippi joined Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis in the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS to take home an eighth place finish while teammates Matt Bell, Lawson Aschenbach and Dion von Moltke were scored with a 16th place result in the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS.

A disappointing qualifying session for both cars on Friday saw the No. 9 machine start from 11th while the No. 6 car started from the rear of the pack.  But the team arrived on race day optimistic and energized for the 12-hour sprint despite a late night for the Stevenson boys as they replaced the gearboxes in their twin Audi R8 LMS machines.

Race day for the 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida dawned bright and clear. Unfortunately, the weather did not hold and made way for an uncharacteristically wet race day providing a unique challenge for the entire paddock, but one for which the twin Stevenson Audis were more than prepared.

Although the second round of IMSA WeatherTech Championship competition marked just the second outing for Stevenson in their new Audi machines, the 2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Championship winning team proved its mettle as they fought through the changing conditions and sailed through a deluge with both the No. 6 and No. 9 Audi machines running in the top-10 as track conditions deteriorated to the point that IMSA red flagged the race for over two hours.

The No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS led the charge for the Jacksonville, North Carolina-based team, battling both the elements and the bumpy 3.74-mile track to drive home to an eighth place finish. Despite a penalty after getting caught out on strategy early in the race and having to serve a penalty for emergency pit service for rain tires in order to survive the slippery track, all three drivers managed to keep their noses clean throughout their diverse stints.

Team Strategist Mike Johnson called a smart race, with the strong driver lineup also posting a stout performance that saw the team consistently racing in the top-five, often in podium contention.

The brother No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS showed strong pace early in the race and remained in podium contention for a majority of the endurance classic. Despite an afternoon deluge, all three drivers fought through to put in racing laps in the Audi machine, with both Aschenbach and von Moltke leading the field.

Unfortunately an engine issue with just under 3 hours remaining in the race forced the No. 9 machine back to the garage where the condition was diagnosed to be race-ending and the crew had to accept a 16th place finish.

“There were parts of the races in both Daytona and Sebring where we were leading, and we  knocked off all of the goals and we were in position for the win like you want to be, but then we seem to have failures or we make mistakes or we just don’t have the car that we want to have,” explained Team Strategist, Mike Johnson. “But really if you look at the cars, they are good. The No. 9 car had the lead with just a couple of hours to go and the No. 6 car was right there with it. So the good news is that we will get to some tracks that are going to work in our favor coming up, but we definitely have some work to do.”

Stevenson Motorsports will be in action next at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on April 29 – May 1.

Driver Quotes:

Andrew Davis, No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS  – “This was a disappointing finish for sure because the guys just worked so hard. With a gearbox failure in qualifying they only got a few hours of sleep, so you could tell that they were pushing hard through the stops. So I certainly wanted to get a good finish for them but it just wasn’t in the cards for this race, but not for lack of trying. We all pushed really hard. It is a very high level of competition in the WeatherTech series and I have to give it to all of the competitors out there, none of the teams just lay down, they all fight. So it is hard-fought, tooth and nail battles all the way through the field. We just didn’t have the greatest tires on at the end and Robin (Liddell) pushed as hard as he could but ultimately we were an eighth place car and that’s where we finished. So we will take the lessons learned and move on to the sprint race formats. I think we have something for the coming races and we are going to push hard and Robin and I will get back up there and give the Stevenson Motorsports crew the results they deserve and give Audi the results they deserve and are capable of.”

Connor De Phillipi, No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “This race was a lot of ‘firsts’ for me; the first time doing the 12 hour and the first time with Stevenson Motorsports and it was certainly a wild one with the weather and the constantly changing conditions. That is kind of a fun new element added in to me because as a driver I can’t really say you are more in control but in a way you kind of are because every driver is in the same situation and you have to adapt to it. I kind like that aspect of the race. I really enjoyed my stints, I feel like I did a pretty good job when we were on the rain tires and then when we went to the slicks we also had really strong pace. Unfortunately we weren’t able to show all of it, it was difficult for us to overtake as we weren’t the fastest car in a straight line, so that made our race ability quite difficult against other cars. But I did the best I could and we held a top-five position my whole stint and I was very happy with the team and with the car. Other than the weather, everything went relatively smooth from my side and once I handed it off to Andrew (Davis) and Robin (Liddell) they both did their thing and the team did the best job they could. I can’t thank Stevenson Motorsports enough for giving me the chance to compete in my first 12 Hours of Sebring.”

Robin Liddell, No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “We just really lost grip there at the end. It was probably a mistake not to take rear tires, but hindsight is always better, right? I was just really fighting there at the end, my helmet blower was disconnected and I didn’t have any water and as the tires wore off, the car got more and more difficult to manage. I think we did a pretty good job of holding our own in the rain, we didn’t really know what to expect in the rain. I’m disappointed and worn out, but I’m not unhappy with the way the car ran for the race or the way the team performed, we just didn’t quite have the ultimate pace to fight with the leaders today.”

Lawson Aschenbach, No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “I have to say thanks to everybody at Stevenson Motorsports. Our car was really good. We showed the speed and we had a shot at a very good finish today and unfortunately it just didn’t work out. But the Audi R8 LMS is a great car for this track. There are a lot of twisty bits here and it definitely suits most of the track. Unfortunately we are a little bit down on straight line speed. But otherwise the car performed flawlessly, it was just kind of an unfortunate end to a potentially good finish, but we will learn from it and take it to Laguna and go from there.

Dion von Moltke, No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS – “Overall it was a frustrating day. The conditions were very very difficult. Going into today we knew we were going to get rain but we didn’t really expect such on-again, off-again rain. So that threw a curveball at us, including the red flag. But everybody did a great job. Stevenson Motorsports, my teammates, Matt (Bell) and Lawson (Aschenbach) kept the car in the top-five and top-three almost the whole day. I’m not sure we would have had something for the Ferrari at the end because they were really quick, but I know we could have battled for a podium position. I’m just really gutted for the guys, they stayed here until 2:00 AM Friday night and then got back to the track before 6:00 AM on race day and really put their heart and soul in it. So we are all disappointed and frustrated but Stevenson Motorsports is a championship winning team so I know they are going to come back fighting. I look forward to being back with them a few months from now and I’ll be cheering with them along the way. And I have to say a big thanks to Audi Sport customer racing for all of their help; Brad Kettler and all of those guys helping our guys working on the cars so a huge thanks to them.”

Matt Bell, No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS  – “Obviously this was not the night we were really hoping for. I was kind of still getting up to speed, I wasn’t as used to the track in the dry on the bumpy track. I was driving along and I got doored by a Lamborghini and got caught in some traffic and I was really on my own then. So I was driving through Turn 13 and everything was fine. Then I entered Turn 14 and the car went down on power. When I backed out of it, I looked in the rearview camera and there was a huge flame coming out of the back pipe. It didn’t look like a big air-fueled fire so I knew the bodywork wasn’t on fire, I figured it was coming out of the exhaust, so I backed off a little bit but I didn’t want to let the engine stall because I figured I was running on one bank. So I drove it back to the pits on one bank and tried to keep the speed up so the bodywork wouldn’t catch fire and brought it into the pit and they diagnosed it as a stuck injector which blew out the left side catalytic converter. So it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. It’s a long race and we are still working out this car. The car was doing great in the wet. Honestly it’s odd that I was more comfortable in the wet than in the dry. So a bit of a disappointing day, but we will collect ourselves and head on to the next race.”