Road America, USA

WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman, 18 – 21 July 2019

RACE REPORTS

Masters Endurance Legends USA – Race 1
Bennett Prevails During Endurance Legends Qualifying Race

Craig Bennett overcomes a pit-stop oops to win The Masters Endurance Legends qualifying race at Road America’s WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Presented by Hawk

Although for Craig Bennett today’s Masters Endurance Legends qualifying race began as something of a walk in the park, it ended a much closer contest as Bennett, in his Lola B12/80, bested Travis Engen (Audi R8 LMP1) by a modest 36 seconds after a restart problem during Bennett’s mandatory pit stop nearly cost him the race.

At the drop of the green flag, Bennett sailed away from the rest of the 11-car field, and in the early laps of the 40-minute 19-lap race he continued to pad his lead over Engen, Juan Gonzalez (Pescarolo LMP1), Joel Quadracci (Oreca 03 LMP2) , and James Davidson (Oreca 03 LMP2), who were all involved at one time or another in tight battles for positions two, three, four, and five.

But then came the mandatory pit stops, which jumbled the field.

“I stalled it, and it wouldn’t kick over, because it was too hot,” Bennett explained about his pit problem. “I just sat there for a few minutes, and we kind of bump-started it, and we got back on the track.”

Bennett’s pit delay briefly allowed Davidson to grab the lead, but that lead faded and Davidson eventually retired on lap 18, leaving Egan, Mark Brannon (Riley and Scott MK3C), Robert Tornello (Coyote Corvette DP), and David Lockwood to fill slots two through five, with Davidson eventually being credited with an eighth-place finish behind Gonzalez (sixth) and George Krass (seventh) in his Chevrolet Corvette CER.

Even with the pit misstep, Bennett said he was pleased with his car’s performance. “This was the first time the car was on the track this weekend. No testing. It was our first race. Our fuel mileage was very questionable. We figured we could do 19 laps in a 20-lap race; so, we weren’t sure if we were going to make it, but fortunately I was able to run slow the last couple of laps. I have no idea how many more laps I could have gone, but it was close.”

Today’s “qualifying race” set the field for Sunday afternoon’s Endurance Legends feature race. Following Davidson in the starting lineup on Sunday will be James Hagen (Orca FLM09), Gregory Thornton (March 83G), and Quadracci, who retired on lap 7.

To be settled before Sunday’s feature race are two potential penalties. Davidson was nabbed for a pit-speed violation, and Krass did not make a pit stop in his required window.

Claude Malette and Jeff Lewis did not start the qualifying race.

Sunday’s feature race is scheduled to begin at 4:15.

Masters Endurance Legends USA – Race 2
Engen Wins Second Masters Endurance Legends USA Race at Road America

After finishing second to Craig Bennett in Race 1 on Friday afternoon, Travis Engen (Audi R8 LMP1) won Masters Endurance Legends Race 2 in fine fashion this afternoon at the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Presented by Hawk.

Engen cruised to a 26.256-second victory over Juan Gonzalez (Pescarolo LMP1). Joel Quadracci (Oreca 03 LMP2) was third, Mark Brannon (Riley and Scott MK3C), fourth, and Robert Blain (Orca 03 LMP2) fifth.

“It was a fun race for me,” Engen said. “I saw their headlights receding behind me, so that was really good.”

At the green flag, Quadracci jumped into the lead, with Engen hard behind him and Gonzalez, Robert Tornello (Coyote Corvette DP), and Brannon following in close order.

“I passed Joel on (Lap 2) going down into Turn 5–I have more power than he does, although he has more downforce–then I just walked away from him. I was hoping he would have a tussle with Juan, who was right behind him, but I don’t think they did.”

Gonzalez passed Quadracci on Lap 4, and that, with the exception of the normal running order shakeups because of mandatory pit stops, established the top three positions for the remainder of the 40-minute, 19-lap race.

Tornello soldiered on to finish sixth.

There were no retirements in the race, although pole-sitter and Race 1 winner Craig Bennett (Lola B12/80), did not start the race because he also competed in the prototype race immediately preceding the Masters Endurance race, retiring from that contest on Lap 7 of the 8-lap race.

As with today’s Masters Historic Formula One race, Brian Redman, the weekend’s namesake, made the trophy presentations in Victory Lane.

“The track was great, and it was an awesome weekend,” Engen said after the podium presentations.

The Masters Endurance Legends USA next visits the Monterey Pre-Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca August 10–11 and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 15–18, also at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Masters Historic Formula One USA – Race 1
Hagan Wins Masters Historic Formula One USA Race Number 1.

This afternoon at Road America’s WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Presented by Hawk, James Hagan won the weekend’s initial –and wet–Masters Historic Formula One USA race.

Hagan, in his Tyrrell 011, led all four laps of the weather-abbreviated race. Ron Maydon (LEC CRP1) was second., Andrew Beaumont (Lotus 76/1) third, and Brad Hoyt (Hill GH1) fourth. Chris Bender (Arrows A6) and Greg Thornton (Lotus 91/5) each recorded one lap. Six drivers did not take the green flag.

Hagan’s margin of victory was 40.674 seconds.

The race began under a deeply overcast sky and a misting rain that continued to fall throughout the contest. Prior to the race, strong winds and heavy rain intermittently enveloped the track.

“I wasn’t expecting this kind of an afternoon, and it made me feel at home,” said Hagan, who is from Ireland. “It’s just the sort of weather we have at home.”

Irish drivers are used to the rain, Hagan said, adding with a smile, “I did the rain dance this morning, and the rain came on.”

Regarding his on-track efforts, Hagan said this: “I just kept my head down, and as an old mechanic once said, ‘Don’t look in your mirrors.’”

As with other events on the WeatherTech International Challenge’s afternoon schedule, the Masters race was abbreviated after the day’s weather turned from hot and humid to cool (or at least cooler) and soggy as thunderstorms and strong squalls began to sweep across the track midday, necessitating a substantial delay in activities because of lightning in the vicinity.

The weekend’s final Masters Historic Formula One USA race is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:45.

Masters Historic Formula One USA – Race 2
Thornton Finds Wisconsin Redemption; Wins Masters Historic Formula One USA Race Number 2 at Road America

Yesterday morning, in soggy conditions at this weekend’s WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Presented by Hawk, Greg Thornton’s race ended early when he slid off the track between Turn 8 and Turn 9 (the latter being Road America’s famous Carousel).

This morning, Thornton won this weekend’s second Masters Historic Formula One USA race by setting up a quintessentially perfect pass at the same location, slipping around the outside of pole-sitter Ethan Shippert midway through the Carousel. The pass on Lap 3 allowed Thornton to ease away from Shippert and claim a 12.489 second margin of victory over the Brabham BT44 driver in the eight-lap, 32-mile race.

“It was all about faith in Ethan,” Thornton said in Victory Lane. “That’s what it was about, faith in him.”

On the previous lap, Shippert had gotten a “little sideways,” Thornton explained. “I think he knew what I was thinking about. On the next lap (Lap 3), we got a good exit, and we went straight to the bridge and into the Carousel. He could just see me, and he held his inside line, which was the gentlemanly thing to do, and I drove around him on the outside.”

Had he done anything else, Shippert said, he might have put both of them in “the tulies.”

The race began under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70s, a significant turnabout from Race 1 on Saturday. Shippert was on the pole, with Thornton alongside him. At the start, Shippert beat Thornton to Turn 1 and kept him at bay throughout the first two laps, with Thornton often trailing by milliseconds.

“Greg got the run coming into the Carousel, and like he said, I knew what he was thinking, and I knew where he was stronger, so there was no point in fighting it,” Shippert said.

So, for Thornton, a disappointing experience in Turns 8 and 9 on Saturday, and redemption at the same location on Sunday.

Behind Thornton and Shippert, Chris Locke (Lotus 77) claimed third, and James Hagan (Tyrrell 011) and Robert Blain (March 751) rounded out the top five.

In Victory Lane, Brian Redman, the namesake of the WeatherTech International Challenge with Brian Redman Presented by Hawk, presented the trophies to Thornton, Shippert, and Locke.

The Masters Historic Formula One USA next visits the Monterey Pre-Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca August 10–11 and the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 15–18, also at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

The 2019 Masters Historic Formula One USA series concludes November 1–3 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, where it will serve as a support race for the United States Grand Prix.