Well I have never been so excited to write a race report and share my most recent success! This weekend was the IMSA race at Mid Ohio Sportscar Course where I raced both, the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG (in Michelin Pilot Challenge) and the MLT Motorsports Ligier JS LMP3 (in Prototype Challenge). The Mercedes-AMG race was on Saturday co driving with Jim Cox, and the Ligier race was on Sunday co driving with Dakota Dickerson.
In practice for the Mercedes-AMG, we were consistently on the top of the board. In the first practice, there was not a single car that we couldn’t catch up to and pass. We had great confidence in the car. Come time to qualify, it started to slightly rain… just enough to wet the track. Jim went out to qualify, and this was his first time driving Mid Ohio in the wet at speed. He ended up qualifying 13th. This still didn’t set back our confidence. We knew that in the dry, the car was a rocket ship; and the race was forecast for dry weather. On the start of the 2-hour race, Jim held his position and started to gain a few spots as the race went on. He handed the car over to me in 10th place. Since Mid Ohio is good for fuel mileage, we were able to make the entire race on one pit stop. Turns out, that was the right strategy. When I got in the car, many other people had to pit again. After the pit cycles went though, I was 5th. Picking cars off one by one, I eventually got to 2nd place. With 30 minutes to go, the weather got CRAZY! It was a very slight sprinkle. We were able to stay on slicks, but it seemed like almost every other lap I had to change from a wet line to a dry line! With a few minutes left to go, it was just the leader, 3rd place, and me. We pulled away from the rest of the field. Earlier in the race, our dive planes got knocked off, so we lost a lot of front downforce. I just barely didn’t have enough front grip to take the lead. I ended up finishing second by a very small margin.
I was happy to have a podium, but really wish we could have gotten the win. But I still had one race left in the weekend to prove myself worthy of a win. And, well, just keep reading ;)
So in the LMP3 race, Dakota and I never got any dry practice. It was raining for every practice and qualifying session, but the race was dry! Dakota ended up qualifying and starting the 1 hour 45 minute race, which left me to finish this one as well. Dakota qualified 4th place, not very far behind the leaders. When the race started, our car was good, and Dakota was good. Half a lap after the race started, Dakota was in the lead! He only kept pulling away from there. Ever since then, Dakota never got passed by another car. I got in the car with about 50 minutes to go. When I got out on track, there was an immediate caution, which worked out perfectly for us. We were still in first place. When I came back around to take the green flag on the restart, I kept the lead and pulled away from second place. I was able to keep the lead all the way to the finish line!!! This was an incredible race! Not only did we bring home a first place trophy, but we dominated the race!
Click the photo for video of last lap
I would also like to dedicate this race to Eric VanBibber's (MLT team manager) father who recently passed away. Mid Ohio was his home track and was there when it was built. Our thoughts are with the VanBibber’s. It was truly a special weekend.