It may have not been the overall victory, but for JaguarRSR this weekend at Lime Rock Park for Round 5 of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron, it was a moral victory to earn its first top-ten finish with the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT.
As hot today as it was wet yesterday, the conditions have been brutal in Lakeville, Connecticut. The team had solid runs in both practice sessions and qualifying leading up to the Saturday race. After Ryan Dalziel qualified the Jaguar racer 11th in class, the car made its seventh start with Marc Goossens behind the wheel.
“It has been a short and interesting weekend,” said Goossens. “It started off in the wet, and today it was very hot and humid. Our biggest enemy in the race was the heat. The ambient temperature was high and that makes for a very warm race in the car. The JaguarRSR XKR GT was consistent throughout the entire race, but just needed some more grip to be faster. However, the car ran flawless this weekend and we seem to have gotten past the issues that have been haunting us – that is a big step forward.”
Just under 30 minutes into the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, Goossens was hit from behind by another car at the exit of Turn 1. The Belgian reported back to the team that there was no damage to the car or Yokohama tires. Despite this, the right-side mirror was broken by the contact. According to the IMSA rules, both mirrors must be completely intact. Running sixth in the GT class, the team had to call the car into the pits to leave its best position of the day for the repair. Goossens returned to the track to run the remainder of his stint before Ryan Dalziel took over just about at the half-way point of the 2 hour and 45 minute race.
Dalziel put forth a valiant effort before having to pit to be spelled by Goossens with under 20 minutes to go in the race, despite trying his hardest to make it to the end. The XKR took the checkered flag with an effort that resulted in a ninth-place finish.
“It was a very difficult day, the conditions were very harsh and I just got burnt out,” commented Dalziel. “There were no yellows during my run so I never had a chance to recover – I was just flat out. I feel bad that I couldn’t make it to the end and that we had to do another driver change, but I felt like I couldn’t perform at my peak. It was a good weekend in all, we ran better than we have and I know we are making progress so I look forward to the next one to build on this.”
The entire weekend was indeed run flawlessly. As a reward of that, the team earned its first points in the championship standings and manufacturer standings for Jaguar.
“I’d be foolish to say that this weekend/race wasn’t progress, and that it wasn’t significant,” said JaguarRSR Principal Partner Paul Gentilozzi. “We ran with no mechanical or electrical issues, and that is a big deal. I am, however, disappointed about the call on our mirror damage after we got hit. We had part of the mirror still intact, had enough vision, and we weren’t hurting anybody. We fight too hard for something like that to hurt us. But the real highlight was that we were racing on the first lap, and we were racing on the last lap – that is progress and there is only more to come.”
The team will be back on track next Monday partaking in two Promoter tests days ahead of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, August 6-8.
© RIF | ALMS