Insight Racing Led Some Laps, Finished in the Top 10 and Learned Some Lessons

Insight Racing Led Some Laps, Finished in the Top 10 and Learned Some Lessons

HOMESTEAD, Florida, 5 March – Insight Racing secured their first top-10 finish with the No. 18, ST Class BMW 328i driven by Nico Rondet and Tyler McQuarrie on Saturday in the Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday for round 2 of the 2011 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship.

The black and white racing machine bore the scars of battle and overcame a questionable call by race officials to earn the team’s best result – 10th in class. The sister No.19 GS Class BMW M3 led a pair of laps midway through the race and spent a considerable amount of time in the top-10 with driver Martin Jensen at the controls, until a slippery patch of track, with driver Paul Gerrard at the controls, caused the car to drift high and graze the wall of the high-banked oval of the Homestead-Miami Speedway. There were but three laps remaining when the incident occurred, leaving Gerrard to take the precautionary choice of parking the car to finish 20th in class.

Both Insight Racing cars got off to solid starts in the GRAND-AM Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge – Kia 200. Rondet ran in the thick of the action at the front of the ST class field maintaining his starting position of fifth or better.

With one hour and twenty-two minutes remaining in the two and a half hour race, Rondet made his way toward pit lane while the race ran under green. Homestead-Miami Speedway has the unusual feature of a very lengthy pit lane entry. Rondet had committed to entering pit lane when only moments later the race went under a full course caution. The rules state that the pit lane is closed immediately upon the occurrence of a full course caution and do not open until the leader has completed one full circuit of the track. However, because Rondet was in the pit entry, but not yet officially within the pit lane, the officials deemed that he was pitting out of sequence and the Insight Racing crew waved Rondet through the pit lane, which has a speed limit, to run another lap behind the pace car. This led to a massive loss of track position.

“I was already committed to the pit lane before the yellow, so there was nothing I could do,” said a frustrated Rondet. “But I am happy with the car’s handling and pace. I wish this track had a few more corners, because we are much stronger in the turns than on the straight. Nevertheless, we are clearly making progress and for that I am very happy.”

Meanwhile, in the GS class car, Jensen, running a fast yet comfortable pace, was making his way through the field. He gained admission to the top-10 after only a half hour of racing. An hour later, he was in the lead of the race, which he held onto for a lap and a half before slipping to second place. With just over an hour to go, Jensen made his first pit stop and traded places with Gerrard.

“I had good control of the car and the tires, which is really important,” said Jensen. “Our strategy was all about tire maintenance, and it showed what we could do since we were one of the last cars in class to pit. If we could have pitted under yellow, we would have been in the window to have that strategy play out.”

McQuarrie took over the driving duties in the No. 18. From over 20 places back after the pit stop, McQuarrie began to chip away at those in front of him, without the benefit of any yellow flags until just before the end of the race to help him reduce the gaps. During the final four laps to the checkered flag, McQuarrie passed several cars to gain 10th place at the finish.

“Without the pit lane penalty to Nico, we could have been in the top-five,” said McQuarrie. “The car is just wonderful to drive through the corners, where I was able to make up tons of ground on the cars ahead, even if I had to give some of it back along the straights. 10th place is great, but I know we can be better.”

When Jensen handed the car over to Gerrard, he had a lot of ground to make up since their stop transpired under green. Undaunted, Gerrard went about his business recovering positions one by one. With 30 minutes left in the race Gerrard had made his way back to 15th place; however, one more pit stop loomed for the GS class car. When yellow flags flew around the circuit once more, Gerrard took his opportunity for service and came in with 19 minutes to go. He returned to battle from the 18th position only to have slick section of the racetrack force him high and just graze the outside wall, putting an end to his race with only three laps to go.

“I have to start by saying thanks to everyone on the team who has worked so hard to get this car, on which we don’t have many miles, sorted out. We’re making progress by leaps and bounds every time we get on track,” said Gerrard. “It great that we’re learning and making progress, but we won’t be happy with just that.”

Next up: Round 3-Barber Motorsports Park
Event weekend with GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and Izod IndyCar Series. April 5-7

-ends

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