View the pre-race event details here
Round 3 of the IVRA Clubsport championship was at the tight and twisty Road Atlanta circuit, a planned 700km for the 4 classes where everyone was hoping for fewer safety cars than last weekends Endurance event despite the massive speed differences and multiple choke points.
The #56 LMP3 car went into this round as championship leaders, while the #456 is taking the championship race by race building on each event to their target of top 10 finishes in one of the most competitive classes out there.
The #56 car went with the same lineup that's been working so far, with Jason Dilworth and Lochlan Bearman driving and Tom Stanley on race engineering duties. #456 saw Ryan Hamilton continue with driving duties, Tom Marton on engineering and this time joined by Tim Penny dipping his toes into Clubsport for the first time.
The LMP3 team decided to keep things exactly as they have been, with Jason qualifying and starting despite the former being a bit of a weakness. Putting the car on P8 on the grid and hoping to survive the early laps, while the GT4 car qualifies P17 with Ryan.
Both cars survived the early laps, including a close call with two spinning cars for the LMP3 car and a trip to the grass to avoid an accident that brought out the first safety car on lap 6. That safety car lead quickly to the second one, meaning that by lap 18 we'd had 5 laps of racing and there was a feeling that this might be a replay of last week. Luckily that wasn't the case, and an extended period of green flag racing ensued.
The race from there had many ups and downs for both cars, with solid pace all round coupled with traffic frustrations and an ironically large amount of time wishing for another safety car! As it came to halfway points, Tom Stanley pulled a great strategy call to put the LMP3 up to third for a useful chunk of points. That halfway point was passed under safety car as in round 2, and once again we pitted to move Lochlan into the car who was very much on a mission. Moving from up 5 places in less than 5 laps early in the stint was a highlight of the race.
Meanwhile the #456 car had recovering from a couple of issues early on but was back into positive positions around the halfway point. Suffering just 17 seconds of optional damage in this class at this track is a feat in itself.
The second half of the race went off without any more safety car intervention, with the main moment of note being an unfortunate tap of a Cup class car by Lochlan that resulted in a spin for both cars and a 5 second penalty for our car. That had the effect in the end of dropping the finishing position from 3rd on track to 4th in the standings. The GT4 car crossed the line in 14th, getting ever closer to their self imposed target.
We're awaiting final classification, but with the #62 car taking the win on the day it's likely that the #56 car will have lost the championship lead by a couple of points, but we go into the second half of the season with a huge amount of positivity and some strong tracks to finish on.
"I am pleased with the end result. P3 at the line after a hectic race is something we can walk away happy with. Obviously, I'm a bit gutted with my mistake resulting in a five-second penalty. But once again, great race from Jason and to end up P4 after penalties and feeling like we had the pace to win shows we can take it to the bigger teams on the grid. Full focus on the next race." Lochlan Bearman
"A tough race where I gave it my all for the stints I was in the car. I have mixed feelings about finishing 14th as it was progress but still short of the P10 mark we're aiming for. Tom made a great call to get us back in the mix, but unfortunately it didn't pay off. This made going all out for my last stints really enjoyable. Tim was excellent in traffic and we only got 17 seconds worth of damage in the whole race around the tight and twisty Road Atlanta. Congratulations to the sister team and we look ahead to the next one hungrier for that P10." Ryan Scott Hamilton
"I am very pleased with our build-up, our pace, and the result. It feels like we could have been a couple of steps higher in the standings, but fourth place here is a decent result to take into the second half of the season. Lochlan and Tom did an amazing job, as always, to help us convert what was often a frustrating first half of the race into a good second half." Jason Dilworth
"A reasonable result in a very competitive field. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a rhythm during my second stint, which put Ryan in a less advantageous position when he took over the car to get to the finish. But a very solid drive from him secured the finish. Tom was also great at calling the strategy, and if there had been one more lap, the positions would have changed drastically." Tim Penny