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‘Ironman’ Mancuso Muscles The Fume Fueled #15 Aston To A Season High Finish

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‘Ironman’ Mancuso Muscles The Fume Fueled #15 Aston To A Season High Finish

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 10th, 2013) – The Multimatic crew struggled all week at Road America with everything from cracked windshields to power steering failures but in the end perseverance prevailed and a season high P2 finish was realized. Frankie Montecalvo and Nick Mancuso claimed their best Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) finish to date as well as their second podium and third top five finish of the season. After a dismal race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that saw two nearly totaled Multimatic Astons and a third suffering from electrical issues, the team had their work cut out for them with only a week to get everything ready for back-to-back events at Road America and Kansas Speedway. Despite extensive front-end damage, the #71 Aston Martin Vantage V8 was repaired impressively quickly and was race ready in time for the trip. The #16 was unfortunately beyond repair and had to be left behind; meaning that Montecalvo and Mancuso would be borrowing Dave Empringham and James Gue’s freshly repaired #15, possibly for the remainder of the season.

The team arrived at the legendary four-mile, high speed Road America track with high expectations, strengthened by a 50 pound weight reduction recently granted by Grand-Am. The week started well as Road America specialist Tonis Kasemets set the early fast time during the promoter test day but things quickly went south as an ABS issue sent the #71 spinning off course under heavy braking into the infamous Canada Corner, causing extensive damage. Amazingly, the #71 mechanics, Steve Magee and John Valerio, managed to once again thrash the car back together in time to make practice the following day. The Astons set mid-pack times during practice sessions as they struggled to keep up with the speed of the BMWs and Nissan on Road America’s notoriously long straights and Kasemets was kept at bay by ongoing ABS issues in the #71.

Qualifying was a great success for the #15 as Montecalvo managed an impressive Q3, just outdoing teammate and qualifying specialist Jade Buford in the #55, who ended up Q4. A cracked windshield suffered in the test day incident almost kept the #71 from qualifying but officials were finally convinced to let Kasemets take the session with the promise of a replacement before the race. Unfortunately the #71 made less than a lap before a gearbox failure put a stamp on any qualifying efforts. In qualifying tech it was discovered that the #15 had also suffered a cracked windshield which would need to be replaced before the race on the following day. Unluckily the team did not have a single spare in reserve after all of the recent incidents had depleted the stock. In an impressive display of determination the team managed to acquire three new windshields by the next morning: one removed from the damaged #16 at MTC in Markham, Ontario and driven overnight by an engineer, another came on the red-eye flight overnight from California and the third was pulled out of a Vantage on the showroom floor of Lake Forest Sportscars in Chicago. To add to the team’s struggles the #55 had a clutch line issue after qualifying that took the remainder of the day to repair.

The race was no less drama filled for the Multimatic crew as just over half an hour into the race both the #15 and #55 lost power steering while leaving the pits after early driver changes, forcing Mancuso in the #15 and Scott Maxwell in the #55 to battle with extremely heavy steering for the remaining two hours. Michael Marsal had an amazing opening stint in the #71 after not completing a single lap in the car prior to the race; starting from the back of the grid Marsal charged into the lead pack before handing over to Kasemets. Despite the loss of power steering both Mancuso and Maxwell fought continuously in the top 10. Kasemets tried to keep the #71 in the lead pack but was still struggling with ABS issues and unfortunately suffered a spin. In the closing stages of the race it became apparent that almost every car in contention for the win would need to stop for a splash of fuel or would have to seriously gamble. Every team was hoping for a caution period that would allow them to conserve and make it to the end but the yellow never came. Some of the lead cars including the #14 Nissan and Maxwell in the #55 came in for the splash but Rob Taylor, veteran race engineer of the #15, decided to roll the dice. The final laps were nail biting as cars either came in for a couple of seconds of fuel or pulled off the course empty. On the final lap Mancuso was sitting in P2 and the lead #13 Porsche was slowing considerably trying to conserve. The gap closed from over ten seconds to less the two but both cars miraculously made the checkered flag before running out of fuel on the cool down lap. After battling with no power steering for two hours and just having enough gas for the finish, ‘Ironman’ Mancuso brought the #15 home in P2, earning Multimatic a season best finish.

Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

  • Crashes, cracked windshields, ABS issues, a broken clutch line, power steering failures and gearbox troubles plagued the team throughout the week. The crew did an incredible job, working late into the night, borrowing and acquiring parts and equipment to get the cars back together after each new hurdle.
  • Despite struggling slightly to find the pace in practice the Multimatic Astons put on their usual extraordinary qualifying display. Montecalvo earned an impressive Q3 with a time of 2:22.932 but was still nearly seven tenths off the pace of the staggeringly quick #14 Nissan that took pole. Buford, who has earned five pole positions so far this season, saw a streak of three straight come to an end as he qualified a still fantastic Q4 with a time of 2:23.041. The #71 was kept from qualifying by a cracked windshield and then a gearbox issue which forced it to start from the back of the GS grid.
  • The race started well for all three cars as they fought for top 10 positions and at times challenged for the lead. Despite losing power steering Mancuso remained in contention for the win and Maxwell held a spot safely in the top 10. The race came down to a gamble on fuel that the #15 almost won and a season high P2 was the result. Maxwell brought the #55 home in P9, closing the gap in the championship standings on the 2nd place #9 Stevenson Camaro which finished six laps down. Kasemets finished P14 despite the mountain of issues faced by the #71 crew throughout the week.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: “I can only be proud of what happened here.  Multimatic’s tenacity ultimately overcame a multitude of problems to result in our best finish of the year so far.  From having Rick Mancuso take a windshield out of a car on his showroom floor, through Steve and John rebuilding the front of the #71 in the paddock…again…straightening it using our two race trailers as tools, to Nick wrestling the #15 for two hours with no power steering it was all about not giving up.  I am very, very proud of the entire organization.  And Rob Taylor deserves a load of credit for not blinking in those last few laps, the car ran out of fuel at corner three of the cool-off lap.  As Winston Churchill once said: Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Thanks to all the guys, I predict that this effort will be repaid in great results in the near future.”

The ninth race of the season takes place at Kansas Speedway August 15th-17th in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Contact Info:

Sean Mason
Multimatic Motorsports
+1 905-470-0025
racepr@multimatic.com