LAKEVILLE, CT — Every racetrack has its own distinct “personality” and unique quirks. Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut, is the shortest course (just 1.53 miles) of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. It’s also the only track where all but one of the seven turns are right hand turns. That makes the track unusually tough on the left side tires of all of the cars. It also means that the track tends to favor the nimble and lighter cars, relegating horsepower to secondary importance.
Team RS1/Legistics/RickieFowler.com arrived at Lime Rock Park on July 22nd knowing they had their work cut out for them. With only a week to prepare for the race, teams were all feeling the pressure of being on the road so often in the heart of this busy season. But the #17 team had the added pressure of knowing that their powerful Porsche Cayman would be at a disadvantage right from the start.
Driver Nick Galante headed out for qualifying with an extra measure of determination, knowing that every tenth of a second would affect crucial grid position. Galante laid down a great lap to secure the 8th starting position next to the rival #56 Porsche of Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss, which qualified at 7th. All of the cars that qualified in front of these two Porsches were lighter cars, primarily the nimble Mazda MX5 Miatas.
Nick started the race well and was able to pick up a spot before turn one, moving up to 7th. The #56 had some first lap contact and went down for repairs. Meanwhile, Galante was being hounded by fellow racer Liam Dwyer in the #26 Mazda. The two ran nose to tail for almost an hour, with Dwyer trying every trick in his repertoire to get by. About halfway through the race, Galante made his move up to the 6th spot.
With the Mazdas running strong in the 1,2,3 positions, Team Legistics decided to go with a strategic roll of the dice. They opted to pit, do a driver change, fill fuel and replace only the left side tires to save precious time. Hot shoe Spencer Pumpelly exploded out of the pits, eager to give the Mazdas a run for their money. Moving through the field, from 6th to 4th, Spencer was closing in on the 3rd and 2nd place cars when time simply ran out.
The #17 would have to settle for being the fastest Porsche on a day when the odds were truly stacked against them. The team was well satisfied with the result – they were able to claw back some valuable points and move back into 2nd position for the season championship.
In a striking contrast, the next race will be August 4-6 in Elkhart Lake, WI at Road America, the longest track of the season. Team Legistics, sporting their Racing to End Alzheimer’s* livery, will be looking good in more ways than one.
* The non-profit Racing to End Alzheimer’s Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the cutting edge research, treatment and support services that will end the scourge Alzheimer’s disease once and for all. For a donation of $250, the name and hometown of a person you want to honor — a current sufferer or someone you’d like to remember — will be featured on the #17 RS1/Legistics/RickieFowler.com racecar during the penultimate race of the 2017 season. For more information, visit r2endalz.org.