2015 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Champions Stevenson Motorsports got their 2016 programme under way at a wet Rolex 24 At Daytona practice and qualifying.
For the season ahead the team will be running a pair of Audi R8 LMS’s with Andrew Davis, Robin Liddell, Matt Bell, and Lawson Aschenbach taking control of the #6 Stevenson Motorsports car, managing fifhteenth position. Team-mates Dion von Moltke, Kenny Habul, Boris Said, and Tristan Vautier in the #9 car were unable to make a qualifying run due to a power steering problem.
“Today didn’t go quite as we had planned or hoped,” said Team Manager, Mike Johnson. “We had a power steering issue in the #9 car and had to pull the gearbox to fix it. We missed the end of qualifying by just five seconds, but we’re very confident that we are ready to go tonight for night practice and in practice tomorrow. We know we have fast cars in the dry and we know we have good drivers, so we are just going to keep working and moving forward.”
“It’s a disappointing day for us in general just because we struggled with track time,” said Davis. “We got very little running and those qualifying laps were actually my first laps this weekend! That’s always very difficult especially with the biggest race of the season to hop out there in a car I’ve never driven in the wet and really in treacherous conditions.”
With the rain starting on Wednesday and continuing throughout Thursday there was a lot of standing water for the field to deal with.
“The track was quite bad, it’s been several years since I’ve raced here with that much water on the track,” added Davis. “For me I was just trying to learn the car. I had to put the ego aside a little bit and realize that my job was just to run the 15 minutes and gather as much data as I could and not worry so much about the starting position. It will certainly make the race a little bit more difficult; it’s always better to be up front although it’s a 24-hour race. It’s nice to start trying to control the stints early.”
Although in recent years Stevenson Motorsports have been competing in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the team have previous experience of the 24 hour race.
“We’ll have to be smart with how we work our way up through the traffic,” said Davis. “Hopefully from this point on we’ll start to maximize our track time and get the data and time we need because both Robin (Liddell) and Matt (Bell) haven’t even driven yet. We need to get out there and turn some laps. But we’ve got the best crew in the business and we love our new Audi so we’re going to keep pushing, learning, and hopefully the sun will shine because we are better right now and ready the on dry set up as we really made a lot of good progress at the Roar, so I’m looking forward to moving to Saturday.”