@DylanKMurry Dylan Murry
Well, last week ended the 2019 (points) racing season. The season finale was held at Road Atlanta during the Motul Petit Le Mans. I was racing both, the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the MLT Motorsports Ligier JS P3.
I’ll start out with the Michelin Pilot Challenge race in the Mercedes-AMG. The weekend was looking really promising for us. We rolled off the truck being the 2nd fastest car in the first practice, and consistently in the top five in the rest of the practices. We knew we had a really strong car, so our confidence was very high going into the race. On Thursday, my co driver, Jim Cox, qualified 17th. On the start of the race, he did excellent and worked his way through the field. Jim handed the car over to me in the top 15. The cautions played out perfectly, and Riley Motorsports’ pit strategy and pit crew, yet again, moved us way up the field. Once I got in, we were easily one of the fastest cars on track. With about an hour to go in the race, there was a very large crash going into turn 10. Luckily, everyone walked away ok. Our car was not involved in the wreck, but there was a lot of carbon fiber debris left on the track. Under caution, the track cleared out (most of) the debris. This caution was good for us though. It allowed us to bunch back up. Only a few laps after we went back green, there was still a piece of carbon fiber on the track. Unfortunately, we were one of about 5 other victims of that. A piece of carbon punctured our left rear tire, and I spun into the gravel trap. After the tire being shredded to pieces, we came in to the pits to replace it. By that point, we were two laps down and almost no hope to get those laps back in less than 45 minutes to go. All in all, it was a tough race, but the season was overall, very good. It is an absolute honor to race for Bill Riley, and have an incredible engineer on the car, Matt Bejnarowicz. The combination of those two and the crew made for an incredibly fast car. And again, a really big thank you to Jim and Wendy Cox. They were the ones that believed in me last year and let me get my first debut in the professional world of racing. It really means a lot. Looking forward to next year with them!
In the Prototype Challenge race, we also had a fast car. We rolled off the truck in the top five in practice. This race, we switched things up, and I qualified and started the race, with co driver, Dakota Dickerson, finishing the race. I ended up qualifying 8th place. We had pretty good confidence in the race, knowing that we usually have a better race setup than most other cars. I quickly worked my way up to 4th on the first couple laps. I was able to catch 2nd and 3rd place cars, but we had a higher downforce setup than the cars ahead, so it was easy to catch up in the corners, but didn’t have the straight-line speed to get around them. I handed the car over to Dakota in 4th place. With about 20 minutes to go, Dakota was still running in 4th. 5th place tried to make a pretty late pass on him going into turn 7. Their left front dive plane touched our right rear tire. It was just hard enough to puncture the side wall, and had a relatively slow leak. Going into turn 12 that lap, the tire gave out and Dakota hit the wall head on. Thankfully he is ok. Unfortunately, we had to retire from the race. Even though we didn’t have the best of luck in that race, it was really cool to know that going into that race, we had a chance to finish second in points. Considering we didn’t race at Daytona, I’d take that any day. MLT Motorsports really made an impressive debut into the series, and we’ll come back even stronger next year! Dr. Michael Thompson, John Bobbitt, and Eric Van Bibber really made the team what it is today. Thank you for such a great season!
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