WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Saturday, September 14, 2019
The legendary twists and turns of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca morphed into an adrenaline-fueled obstacle course for the Legistics/Racing to End Alzheimer's/FastMD/Speed Syndicate team at the penultimate race of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 2019 season.
The challenges started early in the race when contact with a Honda from behind interrupted driver Nick Galante’s aggressive push for the lead, knocking him back into the third spot. After regaining his composure and momentum, Galante felt an ominous change in the #23 Audi RS3 on the 10th lap. The car was becoming increasingly unstable, and as it plunged down the notorious corkscrew, the left front tire blew and disintegrated.
The sudden loss of grip threw the car off the track, but Galante managed to keep Violet straight and wrestle her back to the pits. The crew performed a lightning tire change, and they were back in the game with significant time to make up. Galante laid down some great laps, but only a full course caution would give the team any hope of regaining a fighting position.
The much-needed caution, for a disabled car on the track, came at the halfway point in the race. The team elected to retire and do a full stop – tires, fuel and driver change. With James Vance at the wheel, Violet reentered the fray in the 6th spot and quickly muscled up two positions to 4th. Closing in fast on the lead trio, the car experienced its second bump of the race – this time some right rear contact with another Honda.
Seconds before contact.
At first, the car seemed unaffected by the mishap, but a few laps later, Vance knew he was in trouble. The brakes were fading fast – and it took all of the team’s skill and nerve just to keep Violet on the track for the rest of the race. The culprit – a small bleed in the brake caliper caused by the previous contact – forced Vance to ease up the pace and back up his braking points. The team finished in 8th place – on a day when just crossing the finish line was a noteworthy accomplishment.
Watch the full race here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAUZMNZ9EBk
The final race of the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season will take place at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 9-11.