GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Paul Holton
... and finishes in second place by .07th of a second
Elkhart Lake, WI – Our team proved their mettle once again by doing an overnight engine change on our No. 75 McLaren 570S GT4 on Friday night. Doing this swap is not the work of a moment, and requires the use of a car lift. Thankfully, the nice folks at Throttle Stop in Elkhart Lake were kind enough to loan us their shop for the evening.
The evening prior, on Thursday, the car had taken part in an on-track photo shoot for our sponsor, Richard Mille, and the exhaust note sounded a little off as we moved the car into place for the pictures. Sure enough, in practice on Friday the engine let go. A quick ride into town showed that most of the shops were closed with staff members likely taking in the action at Road America, but Throttle Stop was busy preparing for a charity dinner they were hosting, and we were in luck!Our guys pulled an all-nighter to fit a fresh motor in 75, but we missed qualifying and had to start at the back of the field. With the cars on the grid, as often happens in rural Wisconsin in summer, the heavens opened as the thunder and lightning rolled in. IMSA delayed the start of the race and we sat in our pit box, peering at radar maps and trying to figure out what the weather would be like for the next three hours.The weather cleared and we received word that we’d be going green for a shortened 1-hour and 15-minute race. We elected to go with slick tires in the hope that those with wets would dry the track for us. Yes, the first twenty minutes would be hairy for starting driver Paul Holton, but if the rain held off, we’d be golden until we’d need to pit. At which time we could elect to go to rains if it returned.And so, starting from last, Holton stayed with the pack and as the track dried the pace increased. Those on wets, which had been so strong for the first while, started to fade as the slick-shod cars moved up the order. By lap 16, Holton had cut through the field to second position when right on cue, the rain started up again.
Holton turned the car over to Kuno Wittmer who quickly came to terms with the No. 75 now on rains on the rapidly-soaking track. A yellow flag came out, resulting in a last-lap shootout which saw Wittmer pass for the lead in dramatic fashion. At the flag it was side-by-side with the No. 71 Camaro, who won the race by a very narrow 7/100ths of a second.After the string of poor results the team has had since winning the season-opening race at Daytona (due to contact caused by other competitors four races in a row), the Cinderella story of going from last to second was well-deserved and serves as a reminder just how good the McLaren GT4 platform is, especially mixed conditions.
A big thank you to Nic Piekarski and Tom Kostrivas at Throttlestop for being such gracious hosts. They have a pretty amazing inventory of cars, some of which are for sale, as well as a nicely-curated motorcycle museum, and any visit to Elkhart Lake should include a stop to see them.