When the green flag dropped for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix, Jon Field, in the #37 Lenco Mobile Lola AER LMP car, rocketed down the 3000 ft. front stretch to lead the field into turn one. And while every fan was thrilled, no one was surprised.
The Intersport car has been a missile early in the 2010 season, having led overall at both Long Beach (Jon Field for 23 laps) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Clint Field for the first 38 laps). It appeared Utah would be no different. After delivering quick times through out the weekend, come race day the Intersport Racing #37 Lola was at the top of its game.
“The car has been great all week,” said Jon Field. “Heck, it’s been great all year. With the exception of Sebring where we didn’t start, we’ve led every race this season. We finally got the reliability issues sorted out and the car is great.”
Field got the early jump in the first segment and was able to pull away and at times, stretch his lead over Johnny Cocker in the #8 Drayson Racing Lola Judd by as much as four seconds. While the turbo powered AER motor certainly showed its dominance down the front straights, it would be the right rear tire that ultimately come into play.
“Our guys put a really great car under me,” expressed Jon. “In the early going I was able to put it anywhere on the track. Where we had our challenge was getting the most from our tires. When you look at Miller, it’s pretty much left hand turns all the way around. That puts a lot of burden on the right rear tire. We had to really work at managing our tire situation, but given the amount of traffic you don’t always have that choice. As the race wore on, that ability to move around went away.”
The team continued to do battle with the Drayson car and the ultimate race winner, Highcroft Racing. Clint Field ran the mid-section of the race and did a great job keeping Simon Pagenaud at bay.
“It’s just like dad said,” noted Clint. “On fresh tires we definitely were able to use horsepower to our advantage. Early in my stint I could put the car anywhere on the track and had no problem holding off the #1 Highcroft car. Midway into it though, the speed advantage on the front straight wasn’t enough. Anytime I came up on traffic, I just didn’t have the handling to efficiently get around slower traffic. I really had to choose my spots carefully and that allowed Pagenaud to catch and get around me.”
Intersport’s performance was just as hot in the pits as it was on the track. The Intersport crew executed flawless pit stops each and every time the car came in. Late in the race, the team unveiled its late race strategy. Jon Field climb back on board with a fresh set of tires. Unfortunately, a right rear tire was cut down in what appeared to be some light contact with an LMPC car.
“I don’t know if I could have caught the leaders or not,” said Jon. “The car was still strong and the handling still felt pretty good. It’s too bad we’ll never really know. I thought I felt a little contact going around an LMPC car and the next thing I knew, my right rear tire let go. Regardless, we’re pretty pleased with the overall outcome of the race. We were able to get the car back on track, but it was just too late. Either way, we finished in 4th place under our own power and it was a good day for the guys on our team.”
The day wasn’t as good for Kyle Marcelli and Brian Wong in the #89 Qucksilver ORECA FLM09 LMPC entry.
“We had a good car all weekend,” said Kyle Marcelli. “We had the speed and the car handled exceptionally well. I really thought we’d be in the hunt.”
About a quarter of the way through the race, Brian Wong reported the engine responding intermittently. He was able to refire the car and get it back around to the pits.
“I’m not sure what was going on,” said Brian. “The motor just died on me. Once I got it restarted, I thought maybe it would be ok, though I’m sure I was just being optimistic. Then as soon as Kyle got in and went back to work, he began experiencing the same symptoms.”
The car stopped out on track and finished its day completing 21 laps.
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