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Pit Penalty Puts an End to Final Podium Push

Pit Penalty Puts an End to Final Podium Push

LIME ROCK, Connecticut (September 28th, 2013)  – A certain podium finish for the #55 Multimatic Aston Martin Vantage V8 was forfeited when a minor pit stop mistake cost the team a major set-back during the final race of the 2013 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Jade Buford was running a strong P3 when he boxed the #55 for a routine service and driver change but during the stop the car accidentally brushed a tire as it came off the jack, resulting in a stop and go plus 30 seconds call from the officials. After a season of mechanical and electrical failures, crashes, collisions, anomalous officiating, untimely errors and a load of bad luck the Multimatic crew was hoping to end the championship on a high note at Lime Rock Park.  Six poles with no wins on the year was a record that the entire organization was highly motivated to overcome in the brief two day race meeting.  The engineers and drivers worked quickly to develop a decent set-up with only one practice session before qualifying and the team’s outstanding expertise paid off once again with Tonis Kasemets putting the #71 Q2 and Buford slotting the #55 in at Q3.  Newcomer to the team, Archie Hamilton, after only half a session of running at a track that he had never visited qualified a highly credible Q12 and there were even better things to come from the young Englishman.

The race kicked off with an epic battle for the lead between the #71 of Kasemets, the #55 of Buford and two of the extremely quick Fall-Line BMWs. After chasing the #48 car of Trent Hindman for the first half-hour Kasemets grabbed the lead by muscling his Aston down the inside at the entry to West Bend and running mirror to mirror to the top of Diving Turn where the young BMW driver thought better of it and gave up the point to the Multimatic Vantage.  Buford maintained P3 for the majority of his stint before pitting under green to hand-off to Maxwell in a super fast stop that only an official observed to have had an issue, which led to another visit that put the #55 to the back of the lead lap.  In normal circumstances this would have been a minor set-back as a caution period would have tightened the field for Maxwell to get a shot at the front but for the first time in the 2013 season the entire race ran green.  A gamble early second stop for left side tires and a top off of fuel put Maxwell in a fraught situation for fifteen minutes as the #55 was a lap down to the cars that had not stopped.  Once the final pit cycle was completed Maxwell found himself back on the lead lap just ahead of the race leading TRG Aston Martin of Australian open wheel star James Davidson which had bizarrely not pitted and was the only car on track not capable of making the finish on fuel.  Maxwell handily outpaced Davidson, who was ultimately forced to stop and fell down the order, to stay on the lead lap but ultimately could not regain the 45+ seconds lost in the pit penalty, ending the race in P7 some 35 seconds back of the winning Mustang of Billy Johnson.  Mike Marsal took the race leading #71 car over from Kasemets and drove a strong shift to finally bring it home in P8.  Hamilton had a fantastic opening stint, making a couple of brilliant passes under braking into corner one, moving from P12 to P9. Unfortunately, shortly after Nick Mancuso took over from Hamilton the #15 suffered a race-ending ABS issue.

Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

  • With only one practice session to work with, the engineers and drivers needed to make quick decisions to find a fast set-up for qualifying and the race. The Multimatic Astons were only P4, P11 and P15 in the single practice session but driver feedback and data analysis led to some high confidence changes that ultimately led to a positive outcome in qualifying.  For the first and only time during the 2013 season, Kasemets was chosen to drive the opening race stint and so was required to qualify the car, which he did with an extremely impressive lap, posting a time of 0:57.419, earning him the outside pole beside the young BMW star, Trent Hindman, who was a mere .012 ahead. Qualifying superstar Buford put the #55 Q3 with a lap of 0:57.513 and Hamilton qualified P12, less than a second off of the pole time, at 0:58.139 with only his lack of track knowledge keeping him out of the mid 57’s.
  • The race set a 2013 record of running without a single caution period for its duration.  This, in combination with the extremely short Lime Rock lap, made for extremely challenging strategy planning as stopping under green almost certainly resulted in falling off of the lead lap.  Ultimately the entire grid came in as they ran out of fuel around the 60 lap mark.  The #55 car of Buford and #71 had held station at or near the front for the entire first hour of the race with Hamilton having picked-up four spots during his strong stint in the #15.  All of the Multimatic entries took tires and changed drivers at the first round under green, although a few of the competition did not, which dropped Marsal a couple of spots to P4 and Mancuso to P10 while the #55 crew completed a blistering stop putting Maxwell back in P3 from where Buford had come, despite undertaking a full service.  But the car suffered a repeat visit to the lane to serve the penalty, returning to the race in P8, at which point Team Principal, Larry Holt chose to roll the dice with an early second stop for two left side tires and fuel, resulting in P16 a lap down to the leaders.  The gamble paid off as the rest of the field made their second stops and Maxwell was able to fight back to P7.  The #15 car of Mancuso was forced to retire on lap 90 and Marsal drove to a credible and safe P8.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: “This was not what we were looking for from this race.  We have had a lot of bad luck this season and it continued here at Lime Rock.  The pit infraction was not seen by anybody but the pit official and was no more than the car brushing a rear tire as it came off the jack, but the rules are the rules and Max had to come back to the lane after the crew had smoked a fantastic stop doing a four tires, fuel and a driver change to beat some to the guys who only took two.  I wasn’t initially concerned about the stop and go because a yellow flag would have put us back in the game but it became evident that we weren’t going to get it so we made the call to stop at the absolute limit of our green flag finishing window.  This turned out to be a good call but there was no way Scott could make the time back up because everybody was pretty racy… we lost more time in the penalty stop than we ultimately finished behind the winner at the end.  Pretty frustrating.  Another electrical issue took the #15 out of the race which is a problem that has dogged us throughout the season with the Astons.  All in all, not a particularly satisfying weekend.  As everybody always says: next year!” 

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Contact Info:

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