GT Daytona McLaren 720S GT3
- Paul Holton
Virginia International Raceway once again delivered unsettled weather and unexpected results for both our WeatherTech Sprint Championship McLaren 720S GT3 and Michelin Pilot Challenge 570S GT4s.
Qualifying for GTD began under sodden skies and a wet track, and we sent Matt Plumb out on wet tires, expecting the track to stay damp. Unfortunately it dried quickly, and on the last lap those cars who had used slick tires (many of whom had unsurprising off-track excursions during earlier laps) managed to put in lap times, moving us from a solid third place staring position to 11th.With GTD being so competitive, making moves through the field is never easy, and from a deep grid position it’s especially difficult. On Sunday, Plumb made strong progress at the start, getting to sixth place on lap two, and holding on until a yellow flag came out on lap eleven. We stopped again under green on lap 54, with Paul Holton cycling through to stay in sixth. A late-race yellow flag came out on lap 76, giving us a six-lap shootout to the end. At this point, the elbows came out, with Paul getting muscled off the track by a Lamborghini. Despite our protestations to the tower, it was deemed a racing incident, seeing us finish in ninth place.A top-ten finish in GTD is still quite a feat for a new program with a car that’s still in development, but after the frustration of Road America (where we had a podium, of not an outright race win, in sight when we had to stop for a splash of fuel), we feel that we’re overdue for a result representative of our car, driver and crew.
Sadly, the GS-class race with the GT4 on Saturday hadn’t shown much better results, despite strong pace. Qualifying had been rained out, meaning we started by points, placing the No. 75 car in eleventh place. Certainly not the end of the world, especially given that GS races tend to be more chaotic than GTD. As expected, Holton made short work of his competitors on the start, jumping to 6th place before a yellow flag came out on lap six. Progress continued when we back to green, with Holton up to P2 on lap 14.
The final stop had Kuno Wittmer in for the last stint on lap 28, with the Canadian keeping a solid third and in sight of a win. During the first of two quick yellow flags, No. 75 suffered a power steering issue, dropping Wittmer to tenth at the checkered flag.