Tuesday May 1, 2012
No. 9 Stevenson Camaro GS.R Takes a hit to finish 14th at Homestead-Miami
Camaro is knocked out of first top 10 finish this season
In what looked like a sure top 10 finish, the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro GS.R, driven by Matt Bell and Robin Liddell, was hit from behind late in the race putting the team off the pace in the third round of the 2012 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, held at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Despite the whack-in-the-back, Team Manager Mike Johnson came away from this wet and soggy south Florida race optimistic about the potential for this car and team to climb ever higher in the standings.
Johnson: “I think we are on the verge of seeing some great results with our GS team as we continue to perform at a very high level. This was the first weekend with our new engineers and they are just getting started. We had a great race and ran in the top ten with some great driving and pit stops. We were closing in on our first top -10 finish of the year and we were taken out from behind which ended the race for us. Matt was able to recover and we finished 14th, but it was another lost weekend regarding results.
“It seems like every weekend we are fighting for a top 5 finish and something happens on the last few laps.” Johnson continued, “We are also hoping to see some help from Grand-Am before we get to New Jersey, because the new Porsche is in a different league right now and we have really not been able to fight the BMW's and Mustangs since Grand-Am added the weight after our two wins last year.”
Matt Bell was once again joined by Robin Liddell for this race as regular season driver John Edwards continues to convalesce from the injuries he received in a skiing accident. Bell too feels this weekend showed a light does burn at the end of the tunnel.
Bell: “This was a hard-fought weekend! There were many moments in this event when we could have folded and said that the issues experienced were insurmountable. But once again the Stevenson team did not fold. Instead, they all pushed on to the bitter end. The only regret I have is that the flavor I'm left with is a bitter one.”
Liddell was somewhat happy to get a second run in the GS Camaro and he had only high hopes that this weekend would be one filled with plenty of racing action. He recounts the race that unfolded, beginning under miserably wet conditions.
Liddell: "After my debut in the Stevenson GS Camaro at Barber I was looking forward to actually having a race at Homestead! We had a couple of small issues with the car during practice so I ended up just driving the car in the session before qualifying. This was enough to get comfortable though. Our new engineering staff from Kaz Technologies, worked hard to improve the car and figure out a setup for the race. We qualified in 9th place, which I was happy enough with, but the start of the race was pretty wet and for the first lap or so I struggled with visibility due to the windscreen fogging up. Thankfully it cleared after a few laps once it got some more airflow to it and we could progress up the order.
“We were able to get up into second place,” Liddell continued, “and when the second caution came the rain had stopped and I felt that the track would suit slicks, so we pitted for a full service and I handed the car over to Matt. He had a tough time out there when the racing resumed but he kept his head and drove well.”
Bell: “I agree with Robin that Tri and Jim from Kaz Technologies came through for the second race in a row with an excellent plan to make this Camaro perform better than it ever has before. The weekend started pretty rough, losing practice time to some required maintenance, including an entire engine change. Throughout the crew kept smiles on their faces and got every necessary job done. Despite the setbacks, the engineering and tech team took multiple seconds off our time by race day and gave Robin Liddell and I one of the most drivable Camaro GS.Rs we've seen yet.
“I have to say that Robin pushed hard in the wet.” Bell continued, “He's remarkable in these conditions and he really shined when the sun could not. He made it right up to the pointier end of the field by the time my stint rolled around. I had a tough time keeping pace in the dry with aging tires, but I did my best. If this track is difficult in perfect conditions, it's diabolical when the weather is changing. I did what I could to keep our Camaro in the positions we deserved but was unfortunately taken out in the closing laps of the race.”
Liddell: “It was a shame we didn't finish higher up the order, but watching from the pits you could see that no one could stay with the Porsches and relative to our Camaro it appeared as though the BMW's, Mustangs and Subaru all had a pace advantage. Again, not the result we hoped for but this weekend we ran at the front, matched the other Camaro's on lap time and the team worked well and made significant progress in terms of development and learning on the car. Thanks again to Johnny and Susan Stevenson as well as Chevrolet for allowing me to drive this car which is a lot of fun!"
Bell: “I have to say the Camaro, in its current state relative to the other makes in the field, can barely claw its way into the top ten, regardless how brilliant Tri and Jim are at squeezing speed out of the car. However, the lap times and drivability we're achieving now with this Camaro leave me excited to contest the field again, despite our obvious disadvantages. It's safe to say our big Detroit hot rod is on the David side of the battle with Goliath, but who doesn't like a challenge?! The pit stops the team is pulling off coupled with the engineering going into this car will surely result in improved finishes.”
Johnson: “Right now we just need to keep our head down and keep fighting and I feel a win is right around the corner. “
The next race in the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge 10 race schedule will take place on Mother’s Day weekend at New Jersey Motorsport’s Park.
More information about the Stevenson Motorsports team, and the new Stevenson performance shop, can be found on Facebook.
For more information on the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, go to www.grand-am.com
Stevenson Motorsports operates out of a facility located in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Beth Lunkenheimer.
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